Thursday 10 November 2011
Josu Ugarte (President of Mondragon International)
MONDRAGON, Humanity at Work
Chaired by Paul Preston Time: 18.30 h. Place: LSE, New Academic Building, Wolfson Theatre, Lincoln's Inn Field Sponsored by the Basque Country Government
Poster of the conference
Podcast of the conference
Post in 'LSE Enterprise in Spain' blog
The BBC saw fit to originate a documentary in 1980 named, "The Mondragon Experiment", which related how cooperatives became the economic backbone for rebuilding the devastated Basque region following the Spanish Civil War. More recently, we see how traditional capitalism has actually imploded right in front of our collective eyes throughout OECD countries. Today, all of us are living through the resulting current stagnant recession where persistent unemployment is linked to a decline in common values as people have lost faith in the systems they are part of. At MONDRAGON, while humility and transparency are part of our basic qualities, fifty-five years' worth of data provides for a fairly comprehensive ongoing data collection set that transcends "experiment". Even though now we can say we are a reality in motion, we always endeavour to become part of an "evolving experience" rather than a status quo operation as we are constantly learning, growing, and adjusting to modern times and demanding new situations. Yesterday's "zero-sum" outsourcing and off-shoring models which purport to stand up production centres in geographies where labor is cheapest have proven illusory at best. Capitalism practiced this way, it would seem, leads to something other than fully representative democracy and fully deployed corporations. What MONDRAGON has proven for sure is that a new kind of "one worker, one vote", global multi-location model based on labor sovereignty and worker-friendly capitalism can create value within and beyond borders. The current UK Government's "Big Society" experiment is perhaps the greatest possible publicity for MONDRAGON and perhaps this might occur via the London School of Economics. If we are going to ask society to participate in cleaning up bad practices and take ownership of local neighbourhoods and streets, why wouldn't we want to extend the same practices to our local businesses and extend this "experimental" model globally to other societies just as deserving as ours?
An economist by training with a degree from the University of the Basque Country, Josu Ugarte has spent his entire professional career within the MONDRAGON Corporation Group, the world's largest industrial workers cooperative, the seventh largest Spain-headquartered corporation, and the largest in Spain's Basque region with operations in more than 40 countries and fourteen thousand personnel outside of Spain. Currently, Josu serves as the president of MONDRAGON International, managing MONDRAGON's nine principal overseas delegations in Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Chile, the United States, Vietnam, and Taiwan since 2008. During the past fourteen years, Josu has led successful international businesses for MONDRAGON in Morocco, London, Poland, and Paris. Josu also serves as a member of the governing council of the university of MONDRAGON, the executive committee of the Gipuzkoa Chamber of Commerce where MONDRAGON's headquarters are based, as well as a member of the governing council of the China-Spain and Russia-Spain Foundations.