The Local Implementation of Platform Co-ops in Argentina
This report studies the case of bike delivery platform cooperative CoopCycle’s introduction into Argentina to learn lessons about what it takes to scale platform cooperatives in localities in the global south. First, it outlines the theoretical case for platform cooperatives, challenges and approaches to scaling them while avoiding digital colonialism, and the researcher’s participatory rather than observatory methodology. Next, it describes the structure, growth, and introduction into Argentina of CoopCycle as both a digital infrastructure provider for bike delivery cooperatives and a federation that groups them. The main body of the report then analyzes how various factors each supported or hindered CoopCycle’s introduction into Argentina. Supporting factors were the resources provided by CoopCycle from overseas, favorable cooperative law, the strong national cooperative movement, urbanization and bike-friendly infrastructure, the resources of and prioritization by the local organization supporting the endeavor, state support, and participation in local networks of platform cooperatives and other supportive organizations. Hindering factors were weak cooperative labor laws, inequality-shaped urbanization that has left the suburbs with poor bike infrastructure, onerous administrative requirements for receiving state support, and the unsustainability of the local supporting organization incubating every new cooperative under CoopCycle’s umbrella. The report concludes by highlighting how scaling platform cooperatives needs both state support and social power, there is a transnational dimension to its local feasibility, and federation involving collaborative work is a good strategy for achieving it – one which will create new challenges and opportunities for interaction between the cooperative movement in the Global North and South.