Economic Democracy and Self-Governance in Enterprises

The conference “Economic democracy and self-governance in enterprise: history, theories, perspectives” can be considered as one of the main arrival points of the project “Democracy as self-government” in 2019, proposed to Transform!Europe by Sinistra XXI, Italian leftist think tank.

We wanted to talk about the different experiences of economic and industrial democracy, thus we talked about the role of the working class in the decision-making processes of companies and in the main economic choices of the political systems by using a multidisciplinary perspective within social sciences (history, law, economics, and sociology of work and industrial relations). The scientific committee of the conference was: Mattia Gambilonghi and Alessandro Tedde (for Sinistra XXI – think tank) and Paolo Borioni (for University La Sapienza – Rome)

Paolo Borioni, associate professor at the CoRis (University of Rome – La Sapienza) who is keen on Northern European political systems and socialist parties, was among the organizers. Thanks to him it was possible to hold the conference at the CoRis department, and to allow the participation of both students and researchers from the department.

The conference started at 10:30 am on December 6th.

After the greetings and a presentation by professor Paolo Borioni, who underlined the financial contribution provided by "Transform Europe!" to realize the event, the first panel took place. The first panel was coordinated by Domenico Romano, professor Paolo Borioni’s assistant. The presentation by Salvo Leonardi, senior researcher at the Di Vittorio Foundation, showed an overview about the different models of worker participation and industrial democracy existing in Europe. The presentation by Mimmo Carrieri, professor of sociology of industrial relations at the University of Rome – La Sapienza, was about participatory mechanisms during the post-Fordism era. Mattia Gambilonghi, PhD student of the University of Genoa and Université libre de Bruxelles, analysed the elaboration done by the Italian left of the ‘70s and ‘80s in the field of industrial democracy.

The second panel, coordinated by Domenico Romano, investigated the Scandinavian and Swedish experiences. Professor Paolo Borioni analysed Adler Karlsson’s thought regarding functional socialism and the relationship between socialism and property by highlighting the links and consequences of this approach on forms of economic self-government. Monica Quirico, a research fellow at the Sodertorn Univeristy in Stockholm, explained the political and intellectual events of the so-called Meidner Plan, developed between the ‘70s and ‘80s by the Swedish workers and trade union movement. Professor Michele Prospero was unable to attend the conference due to personal issues.

The third panel, held in the afternoon and coordinated by Pierluigi Marinucci, a collaborator of professor Paolo Borioni, was focused on the topicality and prospects of economic democracy. Laura Pennacchi, a research fellow at the Basso Foundation, addressed the problem of economic democracy in the context of secular stagnation, proposing the democratization of business as a form of renewed Keynesianism. Francesco Garibaldo tackled the problem of the social composition of the new working class and the processes of political subjectification potentially existing within it. In dialogue with this latest intervention, Lorenzo Sacconi, full professor at the University of Milan, showed the possible forms of multi-stakeholder governance, and its repercussions on the criteria of distributive justice. Alessandro Somma, full professor at the University of Rome, dealt with the issue of the guidelines of economic democracy within the post-war anti-fascist constitutionalism, and of their compatibility with the current economic constitution imposed by the European Union. Alessandro Tedde, PhD student at the University of Ferrara, dealt with the relationship between the form of government and the leading role of the working class in the society from a legal and constitutional theory perspective.

In conclusion, Paolo Borioni announced that there is a possibility that the conference papers will be published in one of the next issues of "Economia e lavoro" (he is a member of the editorial board).

A second conference is going to be held in Bruxelles in 2020, with new scholars coming from different countries in Europe.