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

See all articles by Bernard Paranque

Bernard Paranque

Retired

Hugh Willmott

Cardiff University - Cardiff Business School

Date Written: September 9, 2014

Abstract

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

Paranque, Bernard and Willmott, Hugh, Cooperatives — Saviours or Gravediggers of Capitalism? Critical Performativity and the John Lewis Partnership (September 9, 2014). Organization 2014, Vol. 21(5) 604–625,© The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: DOI: 10.1177/1350508414537622 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2566274

Hugh Willmott

Cardiff University - Cardiff Business School ( email )

Aberconway Building
Colum Drive
Cardiff, CF10 3EU
United Kingdom

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