The cooperative economy ensures fair competition by providing new entrants with guaranteed market access and minimum order volume. In turn, stricter controls for quality of vendors, goods, and sustainability targets keep vendors at bay, ensuring consumers’ welfare. Vendors with higher quality receive priority in fulfilling orders. In addition to redefining the principles of economic exchange for vendors and consumers, the cooperative economy promotes protective and respectful employment principles and promotes redistribution of income by reducing salary differences within participating vendors, thus further enhancing economic equality.
Employees, vendors, and consumers are all protected from the platform operator that accepts a restricted position in which it cannot self-prefer its products or services, given that it does not engage in any business other than its platform service provision. To prevent concentration of wealth and power, the system excludes financial shareholders, whereas other stakeholders— consumers, vendors, and employees— receive equal voice in promoting their interests with the platform operator. Eventually, the platform operator would become a federation of platform operators, each serving its local community. In light of this decentralization of ownership and power, antitrust regulation and enforcement can redirect monitoring efforts to the inspection of algorithms, which would hopefully become a standard for all platforms even beyond the cooperative economy.
I discuss these and other design principles in my book, The Cooperative Economy, which is available from Routledge or Amazon. For more information visit www.cooperativeeconomy.net