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October 17, 2018

Rethink the model

Most people would agree that the biggest threat to the planet is our addiction to (unsustainable) economic growth. Many have argued that a highly successful alternative model of economic activity already exists – the cooperative. The Young Foundation has looked closely at the Mondragon Corporation, the largest cooperative in the world, and has concluded that the impact of Mondragon is largely because of the values that are embedded at its core. The cooperative model has been around for hundreds of years, but it remains very much on the margins of our economy.  Time for a rethink?


Dr Charlotte Heales, Dr Mary Hodgson, Hannah Rich

Humanity at Work – MONDRAGON, a social innovation ecosystem case study

Our new research report on the MONDRAGON Corporation, the largest industrial Co-operative in the world, explores it as a social innovation ecosystem, a highly successful and competitive way of transforming people’s lives for the better through shared ownership.

MONDRAGON is a large global business owned by its workers delivering economic and social equality by combining success in the marketplace with social benefit. We found that MONDRAGON, with annual revenues of over €12 billion (equivalent to those of Kellogg’s and Visa), doesn’t just have social values as a nice-to-have, like many corporate social responsibility or shared value models. Instead, social values are embedded in its core working practices and drive it forward. This is epitomised by salary ratios between the lowest and highest paid workers of 1:9 (compared to 1:129 for a FTSE 100 company), training and participation opportunities for workers, the redistribution of wealth and democratic processes which enable every worker to vote on key principles. Our research uncovered a thriving ecosystem which has highly important implications for the development of an inclusive UK economy, and demonstrates how businesses can be both competitive in the marketplace and generate social value at large scale.

Our research report looks at different elements of the way MONDRAGON works to understand what keeps driving it forward and what could be learnt from its model. What keeps it consistent in the face of changing contexts and challenges? Why do people commit to its practices and what drives it forward and sustains it?

Full report