Category Archives: mondragon

Mondragon Cooperatives Can Teach American Firms How to Conduct Business

Betty Trinh went to Mondragon, Spain for a short study abroad program that gave her insight into how cooperatives work together and share resources, in order to conduct business competently.

image005The study abroad program in Mondragon gave me the ability to see firsthand how a cooperative model works. Going overseas to Spain and learning from the locals in the Mondragon cooperatives was the best way to see how a business with a purpose can succeed globally. It was eye-opening to see the strides that Mondragon has made with its employee-centered initiatives. It was even better to learn that they have become successful enough to expand globally and now                                                                                have operations located all over the world.

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The Mondragon model is an interesting one, because it is embedded into the fabric of the entire community. Mondragon is not just one company, but an entire network of cooperatives working together to achieve the same goal. The overarching mission of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation is to create and retain jobs. All of their strategies and developments center around this one mission. They achieve this by forming a strong network of cooperatives that support one another. It is both the interlocking of dependency and cooperation that gives Mondragon cooperatives their resiliency. If one cooperative is struggling, there are resources available from the others that can keep it afloat. If one factory closes, workers can be relocated to other cooperatives.

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The concept of pooling and sharing resources should be the main takeaway for American businesses. Not only is it a great way to weather downturns, but it can be a powerful tool for sharing best practices and creating benefits for the entire community.

image010 It helps an organization to become more resilient and also, has the potential to extend the reach of an organization. Each organization’s impact is limited to its individual capacity. However, when organizations team up, the collective impact will always be bigger than each individual member’s impact alone. The power of pooling is an amazing phenomenon that Mondragon has mastered well, and American organizations can try to borrow some of the same ideas in order to become more efficient.

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If you want to learn more about Mondragon’s cooperatives, here’s the link to an article from the Guardian that provides some more details on what is going on in Spain currently:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/07/mondragon-spains-giant-cooperative

Enjoy!

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

MBA Experiences Abroad: Emily Lapp

Emily Lapp, USD MBA student, describes the three study abroad experiences she has participated in and her goals for her fourth and final study abroad trip to Shanghai during Intersession 2016.

This student has certainly taken advantage of the international opportunities we offer here at USD and will have completed 25% of her units abroad when she graduates!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1KtSEVWVCg[/youtube]

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

The Mondragon Experience Told by a Student

By Emily Lapp, MBA Student

I signed up for the Mondragon Experience (GSBA 594 Models of Particpatory Leadership) because I wanted to study abroad and receive 3 units of credit during the summer semester. I briefly glanced at the syllabus and read things like “cooperative” and “employee ownership” and thought to myself, “Well, this ought to be interesting.”

Allison Czapracki, Tracy Zetts, Emily Lapp and Betty Trinh on the pre-trip excursion to San Sebastian

Allison Czapracki, Tracy Zetts, Emily Lapp and Betty Trinh on the pre-trip excursion to San Sebastian

As someone who currently serves in the military, I was apprehensive about the “workers cooperative” part, imagining a 1960s commune. Well, it turned out that the “workers cooperative” bit was the major part, but I was pleasantly surprised that the workers cooperative I found at Mondragon in no way resembled the workers cooperative of my imagination. I found Mondragon to be far more professional and global than I had envisioned and far more focused on technical and real-world education.

USD students visit Mondragon University's Innovation and Knowledge Center

USD students visit Mondragon University’s Innovation and Knowledge Center

After this trip, I would no longer immediately discard the suggestion of a cooperative. I do not believe everyone in America should immediately abandon their capital companies for cooperatives, but I am convinced that, in certain communities and in certain industries, cooperatives make a lot of sense. I was intrigued during one our final presentations when Mr. Michael Peck, the Mondragon North American Delegate, mentioned cooperatives might be the answer for the financially devastated coal mining communities in West Virginia. The sense of community already present there would be a fertile ground for the next step towards the solidarity offered by a cooperative.

MBA students Stephanie McQuade, Emily Lapp and Allison Czapracki at the top of Mt. Udalaitz, overlooking the town of Mondragon

MBA students Stephanie McQuade, Emily Lapp and Allison Czapracki at the top of Mt. Udalaitz, overlooking the town of Mondragon

I was most surprised by how many similarities existed between Mondragon and the Navy. The Navy, being an entity not driven by profit, is far more cooperative in nature than I realized. From the common values of a clear mission, trust and participation, I found the two organizational cultures had more in common than I would have ever expected. Yet Mondragon’s emphasis on transparency and worker participation at all levels really stood out to me and are values that I hope to implement in my naval career and personal life.

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Enjoying the beautiful view from Mondragon’s Otalora Training Center

Lastly, the opportunity to visit the Basque Country in Spain was truly a once in a lifetime experience. While technically part of Spain, the culture and landscape is so different. Spending time with the friendly and hard-working people was such a pleasure. I thoroughly enjoyed my Mondragon Experience and would highly recommend the class for anyone interested in learning more about organizational models and Basque culture.

To read more about the Basque Country click here.

What about you? Have you been to Mondragón? What did you think of it?