• Length:
    6 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–3 hours per week
  • Price:

    FREE
    Add a Verified Certificate for $49 USD

  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Introductory
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English

Prerequisites

Basic high school maths.
Some basic knowledge of economics would be helpful but not essential.

About this course

What would happen if workers ran their own businesses? Would worker-managed firms make the same decisions as their capitalist counterparts? Could such an economy be efficient? What policies could be deployed to promote a cooperative sector?

This course will focus on these central questions as we discuss the internal impact of employee ownership; productivity, governance and management, as well as the external impact of employee ownership; spillovers for health, democracy, and the local economy.

We will also discuss the simple economic theory of the labour-managed firm. Cooperatives have many attractive features, including high productivity. But they account for a relatively small proportion of GDP in most economies. We analyse possible reasons for this apparent paradox. There is widespread interest around the world in cooperatives as an alternative to the capitalist corporation, particularly since the financial crash of 2008. Economics and other social sciences sharpen the debate on cooperatives. After taking this course, you will be better prepared to participate in public discussion on cooperatives, join a cooperative, or even start a new one.

This course was created in collaboration with the following institutions:

What you'll learn

  • Basic economics of firms owned or controlled by their workers
  • The main issues relating to the long-term viability of cooperatives
  • Policies to promote a cooperative sector in a market economy

"The form of association ... which if mankind continue to improve, must be expect­ed in the end to predominate, is not that which can exist with capitalist as chief, and workpeople without a voice in the management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and removable by themselves.”
- John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, 1848

  • Block 1. The internal impact of employee ownership: productivity, governance and management.
  • Block 2. The external impact of employee ownership: spillovers for health, democracy, and the local economy.
  • Block 3. Simple economic theory of the labour-managed firm. The “Pangloss Theorem” (if cooperatives are so wonderful, why aren’t there more of them?). Internal v. external financing.
  • Block 4. Long-term viability. Degeneration thesis and policies to counter it. Kibbutzim, Pacific plywood cooperatives, Mondragon. Performance bonds and wage-earner investment funds.
  • Block 5. Cooperativism in the finance sector (with a comparative international focus): building societies, credit unions, etc.
  • Block 6. Community renewables: economic democracy in action.

Meet your instructors

Donald A. R. George
Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) of Economics
The University of Edinburgh
Rick Woodward
Lecturer in International Business
The University of Edinburgh
Juliette Summers
Lecturer in Management
University of St Andrews
Jelte Harnmeijer
Founding Partner
Scene Consulting
David Erdal
Hon. Research Fellow
University of St Andrews

Pursue a Verified Certificate to highlight the knowledge and skills you gain $49.00

View a PDF of a sample edX certificate
  • Official and Verified

    Receive an instructor-signed certificate with the institution's logo to verify your achievement and increase your job prospects

  • Easily Shareable

    Add the certificate to your CV or resume, or post it directly on LinkedIn

  • Proven Motivator

    Give yourself an additional incentive to complete the course

  • Support our Mission

    EdX, a non-profit, relies on verified certificates to help fund free education for everyone globally