Mondragon is great, but just not a utopian dream. I think everyone knows that now for the most part, but should generally be noted in case anybody is fooled into thinking Mondragon is the best thing there could be. They spread a lot of co-op business practices to other areas of the world. I wish I worked there tbh.
But I also have posted in the past about experimental co-op business structures. I'm extremely interested in trying to expand the worker co-op sector in America, but right now there is a bit of a lull in new strategy on the part of the major associations and shit. People are leaning into federal support and trying to get legislation that gives tax exemptions for owners selling to employees, as well as grants and federal loans. I think this is a bit of an abdication personally. While it isn't unwanted and is still productive, I think there is something to be said for the notion that for worker co-ops to really succeed, they have to be able to expand at least somewhat on their own. There isn't any honor in refusing to lobby for federal and state favoritism, the capitalist sector does it too. But the capitalist sector also just independently produces far more new businesses than the co-op sector.
Everybody recognizes the problem is primarily twofold:
1. lack of education on the co-op business form, and so lack of entrepreneurship where it may otherwise have occurred
2. failure to raise capital because you can't issue real equity in the business, only various limited forms of it.
I think while they are both important, the latter is a much more enduring structural issue that needs to be addressed. Right now I'm looking into the notion of replacing an investment fund that gets equity in its businesses with some kind of capital renting co-op. This has been called the "venture commune" before, and I haven't really seen the concept mentioned or grappled with much elsewhere. Basically instead of having equity, you have a co-op that leases capital to startups, probably with some kind of licensing terms that have requirements of the lessee. The goal of the capital renting "fund" would be to grow the co-ops it rents capital too, but in order to rent more capital to them, in effect growing the size of its investment over time. It effectively has a stake in the business, by directly owning the capital but not the labor or its proceeds (it doesn't own any of the profit). But in order for this to not still be an exploitative relationship, any co-op it is renting capital to has all of its members join the lessor as a members. They effectively lease the capital to themselves, and receive any profits. So the capital renting co-op is more of a vessel that is simply supposed to have a logic embedded in it to increase its capital stock for rental to new co-ops, in effect investing in them. But every co-op that joins is not exploited, they receive those profits back equally.
There are several problems with this model, but unclear to me if they are debilitating or insurmountable because it hasn't ever been tried. One would be that some co-ops will be more capital intensive and therefore be subsidizing co-ops that are more labor intensive. This, because they're paying more in rent to the capital renting co-op, and that rent is then redistributed equally to all members of every co-op it leases too. However, I don't know if this would REALLY be a problem, I think it depends on the scale of the difference. As it is, co-ops already have this problem internally in the sense that some workers are more productive than others, yet every worker's profit is traditionally treated as a function of their working time rather than anything else. So it could be arguable that one worker is more critical in their labor than another, but both receive the same profit share if they work the same hours. Therefore, you might expect some workers to feel a bit cheated in terms of profit share.
And perhaps they do, but it doesn't seem to be a debilitating problem in studies on co-ops, so I'm not sure if the equal profit distributions from the capital rental would cause much of a revolt either. It may be the case, like in general, that most co-op members just feel satisfied to be getting a profit share, to have secure employment and to be included in the co-operative culture.