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Can self-management work in larger workplaces with lots of people?

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Yes. Larger workplaces can organise into a structure of linked smaller semi-autonomous councils. Each council formed could be a team, a department, a project or any other functional area that makes sense to that particular workplace.

Each council would have decision-making say over decisions that affect only them. They can send delegates to the highest level workers’ council for decisions affecting the whole workplace. Delegates are rotatable, recallable, and represent the views of the sending council. Depending on the type of decision, delegates could deliberate and make decisions on behalf of the sending councils, or formulate options for all workers to vote on.

Mondragon Cooperative is the largest worker-owned business in the world today with over 80,000 workers. In Spain in the 1930s, tens of thousands of workers took over large parts of industry, organised into nested councils and successfully ran the economy along the principle of workers’ self-management.