HOT|COOL NO. 2/2023 "AI & Digitalization"


By Magnus Skovrind Pedersen, CEO at Demokratisk Erhverv

Democratic enterprises in Denmark The tradition of democratic companies goes far back in the his- tory of Denmark. Democratic companies have their roots in the cooperative movement, which flourished in Denmark from the mid-1800s. In Thisted, establishing the first Danish consumer cooperative made it possible for workers to reduce prices on basic consumer goods. The idea was then - as it is today - that consumers who form a cooperative as equal co-owners get better and cheaper goods. There is a clear line between what happened in the mid-1800s and the largest Danish retailer of consumer goods, Coop, which still is democratic with almost 2 million members. The cooperative movement up through the 1800s and 1900s played a significant part in developing the agricultural sector, the residential rental market, the financial sector, and the energy sector. Many Danish companies across industries are still managed and owned democratically. Today the term “democratic com- pany” covers a broader range of democratic ownership mod- els. But all democratic companies stand out by having broad and inclusive ownership and democratic control of the deci- sion-making processes, based on the principle of “one mem- ber, one vote.” Today 20,336 companies in Denmark are either directly dem- ocratic or where a democratic organization has over half the ownership. Democratic companies in Denmark have a signif- icant influence on the Danish economy. Based on data from the Danish statistics bureau, Danmarks Statistik, democratic companies make up almost 10 % of the accumulated reve- nue of private Danish companies. Furthermore, a large part of

the Danish population has contact and/or a connection to the democratic sector at some point throughout their working life. On top of that, every 15th employee in Denmark works in a democratic company, which makes up to 6,3 % of Danish em- ployees in total. Democratic companies contribute to the Danish economy in several sectors. Within the residential rental market and the fi- nancial sector, democratic companies have around half of the market shares. In addition, within the total energy sector, they account for roughly a quarter of the turnover. Other sectors where democratic companies contribute separately are water supply, trade, industry, health, and education. Danes want to have influence. Almost all adult Danes are co-owners of companies within banking, pensions, insurance, mortgages, cooperative and rental housing, retail trade, and consumer good. The Danish Research Institute for Democratic Businesses shows this in the latest report on member democracy. The Danes, aware of their co-ownership and opportunities to gain influence, generally have a positive view of democratic companies. Those who use the opportunities for influence are particularly positive. This is expressed in their perception of the companies' services and product quality and their assessment of the companies' contribution to society. 33% of Danes prefer to use a democratic utility company rath- er than a company that is not democratically managed or owned. 25% of Danes are so happy with their democratic sup-

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