Case Study: Isthmus Engineering - CLEO Skip to main content


Isthmus Engineering is an example of a highly democratic worker-owned firm operating in an industrial sector that one might not think of as fertile ground for participatory democratic governance—the design and manufacture of highly technical custom automation machinery.

From the beginning, membership in the cooperative has been open to any worker, regardless of role or skill level. All members held (and still hold) a position on the board. The cooperative now has a workforce of around 80 and is a leader in the highly technical field of advanced custom automation equipment manufacturing.

This case study reviews the history of the company, and discusses member and stakeholder participation, organizational structure, and participatory process and information sharing.

View a short video about Isthmus Engineering: