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.

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