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Innovation in industrial cooperatives: special features and potential of the Mondragon model

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Since its creation in 1956, the Mondragn Cooperative Experience has given rise to one of the largest industrial cooperatives in the world, known today as Mondragon Corporation. One of the main objectives of this group is to continue increasing its base of 103,731 jobs a figure created in a context that is no longer local but has become global in reach. This article examines the case of Mondragon, analyzing the role played by innovation in its historical development, as well as the importance it still has in the design of a new industrial cooperative that is truly people-oriented, but at the same time highly focussed on survival and growth. The article is divided into four main parts. First, Mondragon's innovation background is presented, through a discussion of the evolution, application and adaptation of innovation within the group, the structural and strategic elements underlying innovation in Mondragon and the innovation issues being addressed by Mondragon companies. The second section examines the particularities determining Mondragon innovation activity and shaping its development, such as the group's internal innovation mechanisms and resources, as well as the surrounding environment. The third part of the article is devoted to an evaluation of Mondragon innovation potential, its latent capacities and the challenges it must meet in stimulating further development. Finally, before drawing conclusions and presenting the outlook for the future, a brief description is made of the individual results of certain Mondragon companies and the innovation strategies they have adopted, paying special attention to the case of Ulma Packaging, a cooperative that has chartered a clear path to growth based on innovation.

Keywords: Mondragon innovation strategy; innovation management; innovation system; technological evolution

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Mondragon University. 2: Humanity at Work.

Publication date: 2009-07-01

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