Mother Jones has a story suggesting that one way the restaurant industry may be able to rescue itself from pandemic-induced difficulties is by adopting a co-op approach.
Here's how it frames the subject:
"Most Americans have never eaten at a cooperatively run restaurant, much less shared in the ownership of one. Co-ops are more popular in countries like Italy or Spain, says Alison Lingane, co-founder of Project Equity, a consulting firm that helps companies transition to employee ownership. Lingane never heard a peep about cooperatives while studying at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which isn’t surprising: Few B-schools include the model in their curriculum. Lingane suspects there’s a cultural component to America’s allergy to co-ops. 'We have this hero love of the solo entrepreneur,' she says.
"But the economic tumult of the last 12-plus years has people searching for alternatives … A 2016 meta-analysis of more than 100 studies across several countries linked employee ownership to better productivity, organizational stability, and business survival. In times of crisis, co-ops have been shown to be more resilient than traditional enterprises and less likely to lay off workers."
Mother Jones points out that "enjoying a share of revenue entices many workers to this plan. Business ownership is among the most productive assets for building wealth, and co-ops give a wider range of people access to that engine: The majority of co-op owners are women, and nearly 38 percent are Latino."
- KC's View:
I have no idea whether this would work or not, and restaurant owners are a famously autocratic bunch. But I've always believed in employee ownership, and so I'll be curious if the few examples cited in the story end up being the precursor of something larger.