Economic Democracy and Business Governance in Meade’s Works

Gaetano Cuomo


The supposedly inefficient use of resources in producer cooperatives has been the object of eager debate among theorists for decades. This debate originated from the fact that Ward and Vanek, whose model had long been rated as a blueprint for the working of cooperatives, had reached the conclusion that their short-run behaviour was not Pareto-optimal. Their finding is highlighted by a downward sloping supply curve. The first solution suggested by Meade was differentiating the pay rates of workers assigned to the same jobs, in terms of fixing the incomes of new entrants at levels not exceeding the value generated by their work inputs. The Inegalitarian Cooperative does solve short-term problems, but fails to remove the odds faced by cooperatives when it comes to financing their investments and working capital. In later years, Meade proposes a new business form in order to deal with the last mentioned drawbacks. The business form concerned is the Discriminating Labour-Capital Partnership, whose microeconomic characteristics will be analysed in this paper. The issue discussed by Meade has great importance with regard to the current debate on social welfare because it provides a comprehensive reform of the fiscal and social policy by introducing, inter alia, a generalized and unconditional social dividend. The critical analysis of his works shows some weaknesses.


Finance; Governance; Labour-managed firms; Welfare.

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