Sortition within cooperatives

I am conducting a research project on sortition in cooperatives, and am wondering whether anybody in this community has come across any research or practice in this domain. The only work I am aware of is Terry Bouricius’s article titled “A Better Co-op Democracy Without Elections?” Thanks in advance!

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8 Responses

  1. HI Simon

    I did a paper on ‘Coops and Lotteries’ which you can find at
    http://www.conallboyle.com/Pubs-own.html (scroll down to 2006)

    This was mainly about actual Coops sharing benefits amongst themselves, randomly. This could include deciding who becomes MD.

    My starting point was a paper by Kremer (1997) Why are workers co-operatives so rare? NBER Working Paper 6118, where he argued that Coops should be much more widespread, but generally lacked a “Neutral Arbiter” to resolve disputes. This created tensions which led to break-ups of the Coops.

    Of course, as we well know, the Lottery — blind chance –, if used appropriately would be just the ticket as the neutral arbiter!

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  2. p.s. I’m glad to see that Terry Bourcious’s article also advocates ROTATION.

    It’s good to recall that the ancient Athenians thought in terms of lottery plus rotation. Many commentators here forget the rotation part of Sortition.

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  3. Simon, you might want to talk to people at the Democracy Collaborative – http://democracycollaborative.org/

    They may not be thinking about sortition, but they know a lot about the workings of coops and they are very interested in democratic management.

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  4. Hey Simon – I can’t provide any examples myself but I can alert you to this lovely individual – David Boyle – http://www.david-boyle.co.uk/ – a Brit who knows a lot about cooperatives old and new. I’ve met him once, a few years back, in relation to my work to do with politics and journalism.

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  5. Hi everyone, thanks for the great tips and suggestions. Much appreciated!

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  6. One other angle… I’ve had some discussions with advocates of “platform coops” (imagine something like Twitter or Uber being a coop owned by its users)… who have an interest in using sortition in their governance procedures, because elections would be ridiculous among millions of users who have almost no interaction and don’t know each other. I am not aware of any actual implementations… We are at the stage of spreading awareness of the concept.

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  7. I agree (with Terry). Sortition could be used also to select advisory councils in public sectors, it seems to me, e.g. regular users of public transport, public health insurance holders, members of a public library, for similar reasons. The advice might not be binding but should at least be considered and discussed by the authorities involved. This goes back to John Burnheims proposals, of course, but is more reformist, does not claim to abolish the state etc.

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  8. Great, thanks Paul and Terry.

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