Is there a co-operative alternative to capitalism?
This chapter starts with an uncompromising appraisal of the prevailing political economy—where both the public and the private sectors are discredited and in disarray. It then explores the promise of cooperation both at the level of the firm—as a source of beneficial competition within particular markets—and as a basis for more constructive forms of industrial regulation and public service governance, through increased cooperation across and between the sectors. The central proposition is the need to better align incentives between taxpayers, producers/service providers, and consumers/service users. Unless this is tackled, negative externalities, mutual distrust, and contractual complexity all spiral. The paradox, as the chapter shows, is that although the cooperative alternative regularly attracts cross-party support, its basic precepts challenge many practices that are now taken for granted and underpinned by statute.
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