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The odyssey of alternative firms 'Redux': a Barnardian view

By Mathias Béjean and Sébastien Gand


International audienceLately, “conventional” firms have been roughly criticized for both the legitimacy of shareholder value and the production of negative externalities that affect society. In the crisis context, “alternative” firms are often presented as candidates to design renewed organizations. However, there is a high risk of arousing as much initial enthusiasm as following disillusion. In this paper, we address the issue of the organizational dynamics of such corporate projects over time. After a (brief) historical overview of alternative firms, we discuss the limitations of dominant approach which sustains the “degeneration thesis.” We then elaborate a new analytical framework that raises the issues of alternative firms in another fashion to go beyond traditional tradeoffs between democratic functioning and financial performance. The framework is then used to longitudinally analyze the story of Garden Concept, an alternative firm operating in artistic gardening, over seven years. Our findings show how the building of dynamic relations between members, common purpose and organizational devices are at the heart of the alternative firm’s project. So doing, we explore a larger redefinition of these three elements and depart from a close association of “alternative” project to strict democracy. Contributions to “alternative firms” as well as research perspectives on professional and artistic organizations are eventually considered

Topics: Degeneration thesis, Alternative firms, Cooperation Pattern, Chester Barnard, [SHS.GESTION]Humanities and Social Sciences/Business administration
Publisher: HAL CCSD
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:hal-01133985v1
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