The Viability of Employee-Owned Firms: Evidence from France  - CLEO Skip to main content


This study examines data on French producer cooperatives for the years 1970-79 to test the widely accepted theoretical prediction that employee-owned firms either will fail as commercial undertakings or degenerate into capitalist firms as the proportion of hired workers who are not members of the cooperative firm increases. Contrary to this prediction, the authors find a high rate of survival among the producer cooperatives studied, with many cooperatives still healthy after fifty years of operation, and they find no evidence of degeneration —either in terms of the proportion of hired workers, productivity, profitability, or capital-intensity. The findings do, however, suggest that the firms’ financial structure became increasingly inefficient with age.