With the right framework and platform, individuals and organizations can flexibly enter cooperative agreements to collaborate and to share the financial and other benefits of that collaboration without the bottleneck of formally creating a cooperative as a separate entity. This opens up sharing of the means of production, or cooperativism, to any cooperative activity that can be algorithmically identified, thereby making cooperativism more scalable.
In this flexible model of cooperative ownership, a collection of individuals or organizations might use a platform to enter into a collaborative agreement to deliver products or services that otherwise a single entity might deliver. A platform with a model that determines the share of value created for a given contribution of input can lower the barrier to this collaboration by determining compensation. Alternatively a collection of individuals or organizations can enter into a collaborative agreement to deliver an entire value chain of products and services, with a platform to aid in enabling one company to cooperate with another. This may occur, for example, through one entity agreeing to buy the products and services of another, or to sell products and services to another. One entity in a value chain might also agree to enter into a collaborative agreement to subsidize the products and services of another, where the subsidy is some agreed upon portion of the amount of benefit (such as an increase in the adoption of its own products and services) that it receives. Again a platform with a model that determines this amount of this benefit can lower the bar to cooperativism.
A platform approach to helping ensure cooperative ownership is also beneficial because neither centralized ownership of resources nor an inefficient implementation of cooperative ownership of resources is sustainable and stable.
In a centralized model of ownership of resources and/or the means of their production, all other things being equal, having more resources to obtain the competitive advantages that resources can afford means the capability to win a greater share of additional resources. The balance of the system is increasing inequality and increasing consumption, which are neither sustainable nor stable.
Cooperative ownership does not necessarily have to be more competitive than centralized competition. It must be based on processes that organically lead to competitiveness, if it does not, it is neither sustainable nor stable. However, cooperative ownership always has the potential to be more competitive because every area of cooperation is a potential cost saving synergy, or a synergy that can potentially increase the probability of a successful outcome.
Even without knowing anything about the internal processes of any particular organization, whether bricks and mortar or online, we can be confident a platform-facilitated approach to cooperative ownership will be of benefit in achieving this competitiveness. Although the management team might be able to identify a few areas for potential synergy on their own (such in the value chain) the right platform approach can open up the cooperation to more participants and can automate the process of finding a far greater number of cost-saving and outcome enabling synergies between those participants, more than just the ones any single group of human beings can identify. It’s the difference between having a few people manually searching the Internet and having everyone allow their websites to be indexed by a search engine.
The difficulty and time involved for the average organization in hiring, procuring, and otherwise allowing parties to insert services of value into the organization’s processes (even for free) is a great example of why the platform approach is so valuable in lowering the barriers to creating such synergies.