Quickly, tell me in which European country the largest research and development campus is located?
According to Georgia Kelly, the director of the Praxis Peace Institute in Sonoma, California, it's in a place most of us have never heard of: Mondragon, in the Basque Country of Spain, up near the border with southwest France. It is a mountainous region that for decades has been among the poorest in Spain. Today, thanks to the social innovations of a young Catholic priest nearly 60 years ago, it is one of the most prosperous. While 25% of businesses in the rest of Spain were shuttered in the economic depression of 2008, only 1% of the businesses associated with the Mondragon Cooperatives failed. Thirty employees were affected, but transferred to other companies with the cooperative.
Georgia Kelly has twice led small group tours on 6-day junkets to Mondragon to learn how their employee-owned cooperatives work. EV World decided to talk to her to gain more insights into what is clearly a promising approach to sustainable business management; one where the workers have a vested interest in the success of the business and the social welfare of the community.
While the Mondragon model might smack of socialism and appear antithetical to the "cowboy capitalism" practiced in North America, it does offer an alternative to the top-down management practices that have led to much of the discontent and abuse that haunts businesses across the globe.
Ms. Kelly is again organizing a 25-person tour back to Mondragon in September 2011. You can learn more at the Praxis Peace Institute.
This video is in two segments, so be sure to watch the entire 22-minute discussion. If you're looking for a better, more productive and equitable business structure, then it'll be worth your while to watch this video, as well as read Bill Moore's earlier article, Mondragon: The Model for a New Economy.
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