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According to 'Time' magazine

U.S. seeks inspiration in Basque cooperative model Mondragón

I. H. - E. S.


An article in the prestigious Time magazine praises the economic model of the industrial group MCC, which has become a benchmark in several US declined areas.

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When companies all over the world are struggling to fight crisis, and while every country has an eye on the United States to find out when the depression will end, it follows that outstanding North American businessmen are seeing the light through the Arrasate-Mondragón cooperatives.

According to an article appeared in the latest issue of the prestigious Time magazine, executives in charge of enterprise planning and union leaders of the previously buoyant and today depressed industrial belt of Cleveland, Ohio, are seeking inspiration in the economic, industrial and social model of the Arrasate-Mondragón area.

The magazine included a comprehensive report which analysed the origins of the current corporation founded by the Arizmendiarreta priest, whose success is supported, according to the publication, by the fact that nowadays, MCC is the seventh state's industrial group and one of the most profitable.

According to figures provided by the writer, MCC is a multidisciplinary group that brings together 256 companies and employs more 100,000 people. Anyway, the interest is focused on the original basis of making the employees members of the enterprise. Those members often have a close association with the company as producers or consumers of its products or services, or as its employees.

Therefore, Time stresses that MCC holds its commitment "to one-worker, one-vote democratic governance through a complex, carefully honed organizational structure in which the corporation serves as a kind of metacooperative for the individual companies."

The article presents the broad spectrum of companies of the Basque group, which ranges from manufacturing equipment, bicycles, and electronics, to an university and its own savings bank, Caja Laboral. Time says that, while many people look to cooperatives as activities at a "hippie small scale," Mondragón is a consolidated and successful business whose revenue, in spite of the full depression of the Spanish economy, grew by 6 % last year.

According to the magazine, some companies in the Ohio state want the workers to get involved in the capital and the management of the company, and seek more balanced development patterns with a philosophy of reinvesting profits. This would be one of the hallmarks of MCC: instead of "flowing into the pockets of executives and outside investors, a company's profits are distributed in a precise, democratic way; set aside as seed money for new cooperatives; distributed to regional nonprofits; or pooled into shared institutions like the university and research centre."

But the Mondragón template goes further and Time quotes a bakery cooperative in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California. Its four partners -soon to be six-, have chosen a particular name for their brand: Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives.


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