Mondragon’s significance in the context of the global economic meltdown is a timely reminder of the pressing need for an International Mondragon Studies Association. Invaluable as are the innumerable books and journal articles that have been devoted to Mondragon, they are no substitute for a permanent forum for on-going exchange of information and opinion between external students of the co-operatives and the practitioners within them, such as an Association would provide. It would also function as a central repository within which works about Mondragon could be brought together and made readily accessible. Links could be developed between the Association and co-operatives, and thereby enable each to more readily access the audience of the other.
None of this is new. An International Mondragon Studies Association would do no more than build on foundations established by earlier studies, such as those reported by the late William Foote Whyte and Kathleen King Whyte in their magisterial ‘Making Mondragon: The Growth and Dynamics of the Worker Co-operative Complex’ and by Davydd. J. Greenwood and Jose Luis Gonzalez in ‘Industrial Democracy as Process: Participatory Action Research in the Fagor Co-Operative Group’.
Reflecting on the Fagor study in 1992, Greenwood regretted that, while the validity of its analysis had stood the test of time, ‘The PAR team did not develop an effective enough internal dissemination strategy for the results and methods of our work. … Managers, who were participants in the PAR work and had read and accepted our core notions, did not find it obvious how to translate our results into concrete management actions’.
A further conclusion might well have been that a key component of such a dissemination strategy would have to have been for both the Fagor research and subsequent studies by Otalora’s Sociological Research Unit to be subsumed in a wider on-going conversation between students of the co-operatives outside and within them. In this way new questions could constantly be raised, new information brought forward, new insights offered and new hypotheses explored. Most of all, measures could be taken to ensure that Mondragon is exposed on a continuing basis to worldwide practitioner experience and scholarly research and reflection, on the challenges of workplace participation, democratisation and inclusion, which its experiences so strikingly exemplify.