Cooperatives — Saviours or Gravediggers of Capitalism? Critical Performativity and the John Lewis Partnership
Organization 2014, Vol. 21(5) 604–625,© The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: DOI: 10.1177/1350508414537622
23 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2015 Last revised: 12 Mar 2015
Date Written: September 9, 2014
The structures of ownership and governance at John Lewis, a major UK employee-owned retailer, have been commended by those who wish to recuperate capitalism and by those who seek to transform it. From a perspective of ‘critical performativity’, John Lewis is of special interest since it is celebrated as a successful organization and heralded as an alternative to more typical forms of capitalist enterprise. By examining the cooperative elements of the John Lewis structures of ownership and governance, we illuminate a number of issues faced in realizing the principles ascribed to employee-owned cooperatives — notably, with regard to ‘democratic member control’, ‘member economic participation’ and ‘autonomy and independence’.
Keywords: Capitalism, cooperatives, critical performativity, employee-owned organization, governance, partnership, responsibility
JEL Classification: D23, L20, M14, P12, P13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation