The current movement of Worker Cooperatives in the United States is less known in Japan. Therefore, an interview survey was conducted on Worker Cooperatives and support organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. On the basis of the survey results, this paper elucidates the ways in which the Worker Cooperatives have thrived in a neoliberal economic system, the challenges that Worker Cooperatives are facing in the United States, and the prerequisites for the development of Worker Cooperatives in Japan.
Since the creation of the first workers cooperative in 1982, Japanese worker cooperatives have produced results in a wide range of fields, and research on worker cooperatives in Japan has developed, providing theoretical support for these efforts. This paper aims to clarify the current state of study of workers cooperatives in Japan and two problems left by previous research.
The most significant recent achievement in the development of worker cooperatives was the passage of the Workers Cooperative Act, in December of 2020. The law, backed by the cooperative movement, adopted the concept of social economy in European countries which has promoted the value of Worker cooperatives.
But the passage of the law presents two problems for research. One of it is that Japanese studies have overlooked the aspect of the worker cooperatives as self-managed firms. This has led to a gap in research themes both domestically and internationally.
Another is that Japanese research has been based on the concept of “worker cooperatives” in Europe. However, this is not the most suitable concept to grasp the current status of the movement globally.
For the future development of worker cooperative research, it is necessary to solve these two issues.