Retained Investments

Worker cooperatives, by tradition, pay out a members internal capital account when they leave. This is either done immediately or by converting it debt which is paid out over time. This monetization of the internal capital account contributes to the time horizon problems. It favors decisions that will maintain enough liquidity make the payouts. And by severing the financial connection of the member it disfavors decisions that might increase long term earning but would have no or negative short term earnings effects. Both factors serve to reduce incentives to reinvest and expand.

Alternatively, the members internal capital account could be retained as a perpetual investment. It would pay interest but the principal would remain with the cooperative indefinitely. This would prevent the cooperative from monetizing its asset base every time a member left and help improve financial stability.

The retained investment functions as a retirement package, where the assets built up by the member provide a stream of payments after they leave. It would act more like an annuity where there are regular payments rather than a lump sum payment under the current system. This would be less good for the individual member, but better for the cooperative. If the former member needed to monetize their investment, they could sell it to a third party which would not affect the cooperative. Of course this market would need to exist. And securities laws would need to be complied with which may not be cheap.