Prof. Dr. Ayad Al-Ani is an Associated Researcher at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin and Professor Extraordinary at the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He is a board member of the German-Arab Association. He has been Rector of the ESCP Europe Business School, Berlin and Executive Partner at Accenture for ten years. His work focuses on the intersection of peer-to-peer, crowd working platforms, and the state. He has recently published two studies that highlight the complex relationship between platforms and German companies as well as the power relationships on German crowd working platforms and the possible role of unions in their struggle over influence. In the 2nd edition of his book “Resistance in Organizations,” Al-Ani discusses the potentially beneficial relationship between companies and platform co-ops.
Platform co-ops could be the prototype of a new, more democratic form of organization. But traditional cooperatives also have the stigma of sluggish decision making processes and corresponding difficult access to capital markets. Additionally, in contrast to commercial start ups, platform co-ops struggle to establish synergetic collaborations with traditional corporations. And yet, it is exactly this collaboration that could help to overcome some of the initial problems of platform co-ops. In addition to help from unions, corporations could& become motivated to support cooperative platforms. Some corporations, especially in the finance industry, might find it easy to connect with these co-ops as they share a similar approach to the commons. Perhaps even more importantly, corporations that seek to create large platforms with the goal of transforming their customers into producers could use the unique features of co-ops to establish platforms that allow more democratic and self-regulating work opportunities. The car industry might be one area where this could work. Cooperative principles are more likely to appeal to customers producers, and cities than the mindset of conventional start-ups.