Structure EA organizations as WSDNs?

In a for-profit con­text, worker co­op­er­a­tives are firms that are owned and man­aged by work­ers. Pérotin (2012, 2015) sum­ma­rizes re­search to show that worker co­op­er­a­tives have pos­i­tive im­pacts on both firm pro­duc­tivity and em­ployee welfare; there is a lot more re­search show­ing that worker own­er­ship is mod­estly bet­ter than reg­u­lar cap­i­tal­ist own­er­ship but I won’t get into that here.

There are plau­si­ble rea­sons to ex­plain why the pri­vate sec­tor would gen­er­ally re­frain from adopt­ing worker co­op­er­a­tives even if worker co­op­er­a­tives are bet­ter: own­ers and man­agers have a self-in­ter­est to keep cap­i­tal and de­ci­sion power to them­selves, and peo­ple may have a pro-cap­i­tal­ist bias. So the rar­ity of this idea is not good ev­i­dence against its cor­rect­ness. (Mild forms of em­ployee own­er­ship are fairly com­mon, how­ever.)

Non­prof­its can’t be owned, so a co­op­er­a­tive non­profit would just be about worker man­age­ment (i.e. democ­racy). This is called a Worker Self-Directed Non­profit. I didn’t find any re­search show­ing how well this idea works, though of course it seems good based on the re­sults of for-profit worker co­op­er­a­tives. If you search the phrase Worker Self-Directed Non­profit there are var­i­ous sources of (gen­er­ally cheery) com­men­tary and guidance. I’m not sure if it’s been tried very much.

Work­place democ­ra­cies, and WSDNs by ex­ten­sion, also seem to have a gen­er­ally pos­i­tive moral PR tint. Though a minor­ity of peo­ple may per­ceive them as silly and in­effi­cient.

Over­all, ex­per­i­ment­ing with WSDN in the EA com­mu­nity seems like a valuable idea.

I haven’t worked for an EA or­ga­ni­za­tion, I just wanted to throw this idea out there.