Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Cooperative

Cooperative

Overview
A cooperative is a business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. A cooperative is defined by the International Cooperative Alliance's
International Co-operative Alliance
The International Co-operative Alliance is a non-governmental co-operative federation or, more precisely, a co-operative union representing co-operatives and the co-operative movement worldwide. It was founded in 1895. The ICA maintains the internationally recognised definition of a co-operative...

 Statement on the Cooperative Identity as "an autonomous
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

 association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

". A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or by the people who work there.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Cooperative'
Start a new discussion about 'Cooperative'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
A cooperative is a business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. A cooperative is defined by the International Cooperative Alliance's
International Co-operative Alliance
The International Co-operative Alliance is a non-governmental co-operative federation or, more precisely, a co-operative union representing co-operatives and the co-operative movement worldwide. It was founded in 1895. The ICA maintains the internationally recognised definition of a co-operative...

 Statement on the Cooperative Identity as "an autonomous
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

 association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

". A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or by the people who work there. Various aspects regarding cooperative enterprise are the focus of study in the field of cooperative economics.



Origins



Cooperation dates back as far as human beings have been organizing for mutual benefit. Tribes were organized as cooperative structures, allocating jobs and resources among each other, only trading with the external communities. In alpine environments, trade could only be maintained in organized cooperatives to achieve a useful condition of artificial roads such as Viamala
Viamala
Viamala or Via Mala is an ancient and notorious section of the Hinterrhein River between Zillis-Reischen and Thusis in the Canton of Graubünden...

 in 1473. Pre-industrial Europe is home to the first cooperatives from an industrial context.


In 1761, the Fenwick Weavers' Society
Fenwick Weavers' Society
The Fenwick Weavers' Society was a professional association created in the village of Fenwick, East Ayrshire, Scotland in 1761.In 1769, the society formed a consumer co-operative for the benefit of members in 1769....

 was formed in Fenwick
Fenwick, East Ayrshire
Fenwick is a village in East Ayrshire, Scotland, UK. As of 2001, its population was 863.Fenwick is the terminus of the M77 following its extension which was opened in April 2005, at the beginning of the Kilmarnock bypass....

, East Ayrshire
East Ayrshire
East Ayrshire is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. It borders on to North Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, South Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 to sell discount
Discounts and allowances
Discounts and allowances are reductions to a basic price of goods or services.They can occur anywhere in the distribution channel, modifying either the manufacturer's list price , the retail price , or the list price Discounts and allowances are reductions to a basic price of goods or services.They...

ed oatmeal
Oatmeal
Oatmeal is ground oat groats , or a porridge made from oats . Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats....

 to local workers. Its services expanded to include assistance with savings and loans, emigration and education. In 1810, Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

 social reformer Robert Owen
Robert Owen
Robert Owen was a Welsh social reformer and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement.Owen's philosophy was based on three intellectual pillars:...

, from Newtown in mid-Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, and his partners purchased New Lanark
New Lanark
New Lanark is a village on the River Clyde, approximately 1.4 miles from Lanark, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale built the mills there to take advantage of the water power provided by the river...

 mill from Owen's father-in-law David Dale
David Dale
David Dale was a Scottish merchant and businessman, known for establishing the influential weaving community of New Lanark, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland and is credited along with his son in law Robert Owen of being a founder of utopian socialism and a founding father of socialism-Early...

 and proceeded to introduce better labour standards including discounted retail shops where profits were passed on to his employees. Owen left New Lanark to pursue other forms of cooperative organization and develop co-op ideas through writing and lecture. Cooperative communities were set up in Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 and Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, although ultimately unsuccessful. In 1828, William King
William King (doctor)
Dr. William King was a British physician and philanthropist from Brighton. He is best known as an early supporter of the Cooperative Movement....

 set up a newspaper, The Cooperator, to promote Owen's thinking, having already set up a co-operative store in Brighton.

The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers
Rochdale Pioneers
The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, founded in 1844, was an early consumer co-operative, and the first to pay a patronage dividend, forming the basis for the modern co-operative movement....

, founded in 1844, is usually considered the first successful cooperative enterprise, used as a model for modern co-ops, following the 'Rochdale Principles
Rochdale Principles
The Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives. They were first set out by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, in 1844, and have formed the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world operate to this day. The...

'. A group of 28 weavers and other artisans in Rochdale
Rochdale
Rochdale is a large market town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies amongst the foothills of the Pennines on the River Roch, north-northwest of Oldham, and north-northeast of the city of Manchester. Rochdale is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan...

, England set up the society to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. Within ten years there were over 1,000 cooperative societies in the United Kingdom.

Other events such as the founding of a friendly society
Friendly society
A friendly society is a mutual association for insurance, pensions or savings and loan-like purposes, or cooperative banking. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose...

 by the Tolpuddle Martyrs
Tolpuddle Martyrs
The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as...

 in 1832 were key occasions in the creation of organized labor and consumer movements.

Social economy


In the final year of the 20th century, cooperatives banded together to establish a number of social enterprise
Social enterprise
A social enterprise is an organization that applies business strategies to achieving philanthropic goals. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit....

 agencies which have moved to adopt the multi-stakeholder cooperative model. In the last 15 years (1994–2009) the EU and its member nations, have gradually revised national accounting systems to "make visible" the increasing contribution of social economy
Social economy
Social economy refers to a third sector in economies between the private sector and business or, the public sector and government. It includes organisations such as cooperatives, non-governmental organisations and charities....

 organizations.

Organizational and ideological roots


The roots of the cooperative movement can be traced to multiple influences and extend worldwide. In the Anglosphere
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

, post-feudal forms of cooperation between workers and owners, that are expressed today as "profit-sharing" and "surplus sharing" arrangements, existed as far back as 1795. The key ideological influence on the Anglosphere branch of the cooperative movement, however, was a rejection of the charity
Charity (practice)
The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver.- Etymology :The word "charity" entered the English language through the Old French word "charité" which was derived from the Latin "caritas".Originally in Latin the word caritas meant...

 principles that underpinned welfare
Welfare
Welfare refers to a broad discourse which may hold certain implications regarding the provision of a minimal level of wellbeing and social support for all citizens without the stigma of charity. This is termed "social solidarity"...

 reforms when the British government radically revised its Poor Laws in 1834. As both state and church institutions began to routinely distinguish between the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor, a movement of friendly societies
Friendly society
A friendly society is a mutual association for insurance, pensions or savings and loan-like purposes, or cooperative banking. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose...

 grew throughout the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 based on the principle of mutuality, committed to self-help in the welfare of working people.

Friendly Societies established forums through which one member, one vote
One member, one vote
One member, one vote , as used in the parliamentary politics of the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Canadian provinces, is a proposal to select party leaders and/or determine party policy, by a direct vote of the members of each party...

 was practiced in organisation decision-making. The principles challenged the idea that a person should be an owner of property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

 before being granted a political voice. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century (and then repeatedly every 20 years or so) there has been a surge in the number of cooperative organisations, both in commercial practice and civil society, operating to advance democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 as a political principle. Friendly Societies and consumer cooperatives became the dominant form of organization amongst working people in Anglosphere industrial societies prior to the rise of trade unions and industrial factories. Weinbren reports that by the end of the 19th century, over 80% of British working age men and 90% of Australian working age men were members of one or more Friendly Society.

From the mid-nineteenth century, mutual organisations embraced these ideas in economic enterprises, firstly amongst tradespeople, and later in cooperative stores, educational institutes, financial institutions and industrial enterprises. The common thread (enacted in different ways, and subject to the constraints of various systems of national law) is the principle that an enterprise or association should be owned and controlled by the people it serves, and share any surpluses on the basis of each members' cooperative contribution (as a producer, labourer or consumer) rather than their capacity to invest financial capital.

The cooperative movement has been fueled globally by ideas of economic democracy
Economic democracy
Economic democracy is a socioeconomic philosophy that suggests a shift in decision-making power from a small minority of corporate shareholders to a larger majority of public stakeholders...

. Economic democracy is a socioeconomic philosophy that suggests an expansion of decision-making power from a small minority of corporate shareholders to a larger majority of public stakeholders. There are many different approaches to thinking about and building economic democracy. Both Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 and anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, for example, have been influenced by utopian socialism
Utopian socialism
Utopian socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists and were looked on favorably...

, which was based on voluntary cooperation, without recognition of class conflict
Class conflict
Class conflict is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people of different classes....

. Anarchists are committed to libertarian socialism
Libertarian socialism
Libertarian socialism is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, stateless society without private property in the means of production...

 and they have focused on local organization, including locally managed cooperatives, linked through confederations of unions, cooperatives and communities. Marxists, who as socialists have likewise held and worked for the goal of democratizing productive and reproductive relationships, often placed a greater strategic emphasis on confronting the larger scales of human organization. As they viewed the capitalist class to be prohibitively politically, militarily and culturally mobilized in order to maintain an exploitable working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

, they fought in the early 20th century to appropriate from the capitalist class the society's collective political capacity in the form of the state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

, either through democratic socialism
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

, or through what came to be known as Leninism
Leninism
In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism...

. Though they regard the state as an unnecessarily oppressive institution, Marxists considered appropriating national and international-scale capitalist institutions and resources (such as the state) to be an important first pillar in creating conditions favorable to solidaristic economies. With the declining influence of the USSR after the 1960s, socialist strategies pluralized, though economic democratizers have not as yet established a fundamental challenge to the hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 of global neoliberal capitalism.

Cooperatives as legal entities


A cooperative is a legal entity owned and democratically controlled by its members. Members often have a close association with the enterprise as producers or consumers of its products or services, or as its employees.

In some countries, e.g. Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, there are specific forms of incorporation for cooperatives. Cooperatives may take the form of companies limited by shares or by guarantee, partnerships or unincorporated associations. In the USA, cooperatives are often organized as non-capital stock corporations under state-specific cooperative laws. However, they may also be unincorporated associations or business corporations
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 such as limited liability companies or partnerships
Partnership
A partnership is an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.Since humans are social beings, partnerships between individuals, businesses, interest-based organizations, schools, governments, and varied combinations thereof, have always been and remain commonplace...

; such forms are useful when the members want to allow:
  1. some members to have a greater share of the control, or
  2. some investors to have a return on their capital
    Capital (economics)
    In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

     that exceeds fixed interest
    Interest
    Interest is a fee paid by a borrower of assets to the owner as a form of compensation for the use of the assets. It is most commonly the price paid for the use of borrowed money, or money earned by deposited funds....

    ,

neither of which may be allowed under local laws for cooperatives. Cooperatives often share their earnings with the membership as dividend
Dividend
Dividends are payments made by a corporation to its shareholder members. It is the portion of corporate profits paid out to stockholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, that money can be put to two uses: it can either be re-invested in the business , or it can be distributed to...

s, which are divided among the members according to their participation in the enterprise, such as patronage, instead of according to the value of their capital shareholdings (as is done by a joint stock company
Joint stock company
A joint-stock company is a type of corporation or partnership involving two or more individuals that own shares of stock in the company...

).

Identity


Cooperatives are based on the cooperative values of "self-help, self-responsibility, democracy and equality, equity and solidarity" and the seven cooperative principles
Rochdale Principles
The Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives. They were first set out by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, in 1844, and have formed the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world operate to this day. The...

:
  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community


Cooperatives are dedicated to the values of openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Such legal entities have a range of social characteristics. Membership is open, meaning that anyone who satisfies certain non-discriminatory conditions may join. Economic benefits are distributed proportionally to each member's level of participation in the cooperative, for instance by a dividend on sales or purchases, rather than according to capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

 invested. Cooperatives may be classified as either worker, consumer, producer, purchasing or housing cooperatives. They are distinguished from other forms of incorporation in that profit-making or economic stability are balanced by the interests of the community. Co-ops can sometimes be identified on the Internet through the use of the .coop
.coop
The domain coop is a sponsored top-level domain in the Domain Name System of the Internet. It is intended for the use of cooperatives, wholly owned subsidiaries, and other organizations that exist to promote or support co-operatives....

 gTLD. Organizations using .coop domain names must adhere to the basic co-op values.

Retailers' cooperative



A retailers' cooperative
Retailers' cooperative
A retailers' cooperative is a type of cooperative which employs economies of scale on behalf of its retailer members. Retailers' cooperatives use their purchasing power to acquire discounts from manufacturers and often share marketing expenses. It is common for locally owned grocery stores,...

 (known as a secondary or marketing cooperative in some countries) is an organization which employs economies of scale
Economies of scale
Economies of scale, in microeconomics, refers to the cost advantages that an enterprise obtains due to expansion. There are factors that cause a producer’s average cost per unit to fall as the scale of output is increased. "Economies of scale" is a long run concept and refers to reductions in unit...

 on behalf of its members to get discounts from manufacturers and to pool marketing. It is common for locally owned grocery stores
Supermarket
A supermarket, a form of grocery store, is a self-service store offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise, organized into departments...

, hardware store
Hardware store
Hardware stores, sometimes known as DIY stores, sell household hardware including: fasteners, hand tools, power tools, keys, locks, hinges, chains, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, cleaning products, housewares, tools, utensils, paint, and lawn and garden products directly to consumers for...

s and pharmacies
Pharmacy
Pharmacy is the health profession that links the health sciences with the chemical sciences and it is charged with ensuring the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs...

. In this case the members of the cooperative are businesses rather than individuals.

The Best Western
Best Western
Best Western International, Inc. is the third largest hotel chain, with over 4,195 hotels in nearly 80 countries. The chain, with its corporate headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, operates more than 2,000 hotels in North America alone. Best Western has a marketing program involving placement of free...

  international hotel chain is actually a retailers' cooperative, whose members are hotel operators, although it now prefers to call itself a "nonprofit membership association." It gave up on the "cooperative" label after some courts insisted on enforcing regulatory requirements for franchisors despite its member-controlled status.

Worker cooperative



A worker cooperative
Worker cooperative
A worker cooperative is a cooperative owned and democratically managed by its worker-owners. This control may be exercised in a number of ways. A cooperative enterprise may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which...

 or producer cooperative is a cooperative, that is owned and democratically controlled by its "worker-owners". There are no outside owners in a "pure" workers' cooperative, only the workers own shares of the business, though hybrid forms exist in which consumers, community members or capitalist investors also own some shares. In practice, control by worker-owners may be exercised through individual, collective or majority ownership by the workforce, or the retention of individual, collective or majority voting rights (exercised on a one-member one-vote basis). A worker cooperative, therefore, has the characteristic that the majority of its workforce owns shares, and the majority of shares are owned by the workforce. Membership is not always compulsory for employees, but generally only employees can become members either directly (as shareholders) or indirectly through membership of a trust that owns the company.

The impact of political ideology on practice constrains the development of cooperatives in different countries. In India, there is a form of workers' cooperative which insists on compulsory membership for all employees and compulsory employment for all members. That is the form of the Indian Coffee Houses. This system was advocated by the Indian communist leader A. K. Gopalan
A. K. Gopalan
Ayillyath Kuttiari Gopalan , 1 October 1904 to March 22, 1977, popularly known as A. K. Gopalan or AKG, was an Indian communist leader and first leader of opposition of India.- Early life and education :...

. In places like the UK, common ownership (indivisible collective ownership) was popular in the 1970s. Cooperative Societies only became legal in Britain after the passing of Slaney's Act in 1852. In 1865 there were 651 registered societies with a total membership of well over 200,000. There are now more than 400 worker cooperatives in the UK, Suma Wholefoods being the largest example with a turnover of £24 million.

Spanish law permits owner-members to register as self-employed enabling worker-owners to establish regulatory regimes that support cooperative working, but which differs considerably from cooperatives that are subject to Anglo-American systems of law that require the cooperative (employer) to view (and treat) its worker-members as salaried workers (employees). The implications of this are far-reaching, as this requires cooperatives to establish authority driven statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures (rather than democratic mediation schemes), impacting on the ability of leaders to enact democratic forms of management and counter the authority structures embedded in the dominant system of private enterprise centred around the entrepreneur.

Volunteer cooperative


A volunteer cooperative is a cooperative that is run by and for a network of volunteers, for the benefit of a defined membership or the general public, to achieve some goal. Depending on the structure, it may be a collective
Collective
A collective is a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together on a specific project to achieve a common objective...

 or mutual organization
Mutual organization
A mutual, mutual organization, or mutual society is an organization based on the principle of mutuality. Unlike a true cooperative, members usually do not contribute to the capital of the company by direct investment, but derive their right to profits and votes through their customer relationship...

, which is operated according to the principles of cooperative governance. The most basic form of volunteer-run cooperative is a voluntary association
Voluntary association
A voluntary association or union is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form a body to accomplish a purpose.Strictly speaking, in many jurisdictions no formalities are necessary to start an association...

. A lodge
Fraternity
A fraternity is a brotherhood, though the term usually connotes a distinct or formal organization. An organization referred to as a fraternity may be a:*Secret society*Chivalric order*Benefit society*Friendly society*Social club*Trade union...

 or social club may be organized on this basis. A volunteer-run co-op is distinguished from a worker cooperative
Worker cooperative
A worker cooperative is a cooperative owned and democratically managed by its worker-owners. This control may be exercised in a number of ways. A cooperative enterprise may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which...

 in that the latter is by definition employee-owned
Employee-owned corporation
An employee share ownership plan is the practice of companies giving staff members shares in their company as part of their salary....

, whereas the volunteer cooperative is typically a non-stock corporation
Non-stock corporation
A non-stock corporation is a corporation that does not have owners represented by shares of stock. That type of corporation is called a stock corporation. Instead, a non-stock corporation typically has members, who are the functional equivalent of stockholders in a stock corporation Non-stock...

, volunteer-run consumer co-op or service organization, in which workers and beneficiaries jointly participate in management decisions and receive discounts on the basis of sweat equity
Sweat equity
Sweat equity is a term that refers to a party's contribution to a project in the form of effort --- as opposed to financial equity, which is a contribution in the form of capital....

.

Social cooperative



A particularly successful form of multi-stakeholder cooperative is the Italian "social cooperative", of which some 7,000 exist. "Type A" social cooperatives bring together providers and beneficiaries of a social service as members. "Type B" social cooperatives bring together permanent workers and previously unemployed people who wish to integrate into the labour market. They are legally defined as follows:
  • no more than 80% of profits may be distributed, interest is limited to the bond rate and dissolution is altruistic (assets may not be distributed)
  • the cooperative has legal personality and limited liability
  • the objective is the general benefit of the community and the social integration of citizens
  • those of type B integrate disadvantaged people into the labour market. The categories of disadvantage they target may include physical and mental disability, drug and alcohol addiction, developmental disorders and problems with the law. They do not include other factors of disadvantage such as unemployment, race, sexual orientation or abuse.
  • type A cooperatives provide health, social or educational services
  • various categories of stakeholder may become members, including paid employees, beneficiaries, volunteers (up to 50% of members), financial investors and public institutions. In type B cooperatives at least 30% of the members must be from the disadvantaged target groups
  • voting is one person one vote


A good estimate of the current size of the social cooperative sector in Italy is given by updating the official Istituto Nazionale di Statistica
Istituto Nazionale di Statistica
Istituto Nazionale di Statistica is the Italian national statistical institute.-History:Istat was created in 1926 to collect and organize essential data about the nation. Administering the census is one of its activities...

 (Istat) figures from the end of 2001 by an annual growth rate of 10% (assumed by the Direzione Generale per gli Ente Cooperativi). This gives totals of 7,100 social cooperatives, with 267,000 members, 223,000 paid employees, 31,000 volunteers and 24,000 disadvantaged people undergoing integration. Combined turnover is around 5 billion euro. The cooperatives break into three types: 59% type A (social and health services), 33% type B (work integration) and 8% mixed. The average size is 30 workers.

Consumers' cooperative



A consumers' cooperative is a business owned by its customers. Employees can also generally become members. Members vote on major decisions and elect the board of directors from amongst their own number. The first of these was set up in 1844 in the North-West of England by 28 weavers who wanted to sell food at a lower price than the local shops.
A well known example in the United States is the REI
R.E.I.
REI is a privately held American retail corporation organized as a consumers' cooperative, selling outdoor recreation gear, sporting goods, and clothes via some 110 retail stores in about 30 states, catalogs, and the Internet. The company opens four to six new stores each year...

 (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) co-op, and in Canada: Mountain Equipment Co-op
Mountain Equipment Co-op
Mountain Equipment Co-op is a Canadian consumers' cooperative, which sells outdoor recreation gear and clothing to its members exclusively. MEC is notable for its commitment to environmental protection and other causes. As a co-op, MEC sells only to customers who hold a lifetime membership, which...

.

With its 414,383 employees, 7,736,210 members and a turnover of €50Bn per year growing at a steady rate of 4.41%, Legacoop
Legacoop
Legacoop is a cooperative federation located in Italy. Legacoop consists of several associations of cooperatives, providing coordination and advocating on the members cooperatives' behalf.- History :...

 of Italy is arguably the world's biggest federation of cooperatives.

The world's largest consumers' cooperative is the Co-operative Group
The Co-operative Group
The Co-operative Group Ltd. is a United Kingdom consumer cooperative with a diverse range of business interests. It is co-operatively run and owned by its members. It is the largest organisation of this type in the world, with over 5.5 million members, who all have a say in how the business is...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, which offers a variety of retail and financial services. The UK also has a number of autonomous consumers' cooperative societies, such as the East of England Co-operative Society
East of England Co-operative Society
The East of England Co-operative Society Limited is the third largest consumer co-operative in the United Kingdom. It is a registered Industrial and Provident Society, a member of the Co-operative Union Ltd., the Co-operative Retail Trading Group, the Co-operative Travel Trading Group and a...

 and Midcounties Co-operative. In fact, the Co-operative Group is something of a hybrid, having both corporate members (mostly other consumers' cooperatives, as a result of its origins as a wholesale society
Co-operative wholesale society
A Co-operative Wholesale Society, or CWS, is a form of Co-operative Federation , in this case, the members are usually Consumers' Co-operatives...

), and individual retail consumer members.

Japan has a very large and well-developed consumer cooperative movement with over 14 million members; retail co-ops alone had a combined turnover of 2.519 trillion Yen (21.184 billion US dollars [market exchange rates as of 15 November 2005]) in 2003/4.

Migros
Migros
Migros is one of Switzerland's largest enterprises, its largest supermarket chain and largest employer. It co-founded Turkey's largest retailer, Migros Türk, which became independent of Migros Switzerland in 1975....

 is the largest supermarket chain in Switzerland and has around 2 million of the country's 7.2 million population as members. Switzerland's second-biggest supermarket chain, Coop
Coop (Switzerland)
Coop is a Swiss cooperative which operates the largest in supermarket chain in Switzerland. In 2001, Coop merged with 11 cooperative federations which had been its main suppliers for over 100 years....

 is also a cooperative. In 2001, it merged with 11 cooperative federations which had been its main suppliers for over 100 years. As of 2005, Coop operates 1,437 shops and employs almost 45,000 people. According to Bio Suisse, the Swiss organic producers' association, Coop accounts for half of all the organic food sold in Switzerland.

Euro Coop is the European Community of Consumer Cooperatives.

Business and employment cooperative



Business and employment cooperatives (BECs) are a subset of worker cooperatives that represent a new approach to providing support to the creation of new businesses.

Like other business creation support schemes, BECs enable budding entrepreneurs to experiment with their business idea while benefiting from a secure income. The innovation BECs introduce is that once the business is established the entrepreneur is not forced to leave and set up independently, but can stay and become a full member of the cooperative. The micro-enterprises then combine to form one multi-activity enterprise whose members provide a mutually supportive environment for each other.

BECs thus provide budding business people with an easy transition from inactivity to self-employment, but in a collective framework. They open up new horizons for people who have ambition but who lack the skills or confidence needed to set off entirely on their own – or who simply want to carry on an independent economic activity but within a supportive group context.

New generation cooperative


New generation cooperatives (NGCs) are an adaptation of traditional cooperative structures to modern, capital intensive industries. They are sometimes described as a hybrid between traditional co-ops and limited liability companies. They were first developed in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and spread and flourished in the US Mid-West in the 1990s. They are now common in Canada where they operate primarily in agriculture and food services, where their primary purpose is to add value
Value added
In economics, the difference between the sale price and the production cost of a product is the value added per unit. Summing value added per unit over all units sold is total value added. Total value added is equivalent to Revenue less Outside Purchases...

 to primary products. For example producing ethanol
Ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel is ethanol , the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline. World ethanol production for transport fuel tripled between 2000 and 2007 from 17 billion to more than 52 billion litres...

 from corn
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, pasta
Pasta
Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, now of worldwide renown. It takes the form of unleavened dough, made in Italy, mostly of durum wheat , water and sometimes eggs. Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes that serve for both decoration and to act as a carrier for the...

 from durum wheat, or gourmet cheese from goat’s milk.

Housing cooperative




A housing cooperative
Housing cooperative
A housing cooperative is a legal entity—usually a corporation—that owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit, sometimes subject to an occupancy agreement, which is similar to a lease. ...

 is a legal mechanism for ownership of housing where residents either own shares (share capital co-op) reflecting their equity in the cooperative's real estate, or have membership and occupancy rights in a not-for-profit cooperative (non-share capital co-op), and they underwrite their housing through paying subscriptions or rent.

Housing cooperatives come in three basic equity structures:
  • In Market-rate housing cooperatives, members may sell their shares in the cooperative whenever they like for whatever price the market will bear, much like any other residential property. Market-rate co-ops are very common in New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

    .
  • Limited equity housing cooperatives, which are often used by affordable housing
    Affordable housing
    Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed "affordable" to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the...

     developers, allow members to own some equity in their home, but limit the sale price of their membership share to that which they paid.
  • Group equity or Zero equity housing cooperatives do not allow members to own equity in their residences and often have rental agreements well below market rates.

Members of a building cooperative (in Britain known as a self-build housing cooperative) pool resources to build housing, normally using a high proportion of their own labour. When the building is finished, each member is the sole owner of a homestead, and the cooperative may be dissolved.

This collective effort was at the origin of many of Britain's building societies, which however developed into "permanent" mutual
Mutual organization
A mutual, mutual organization, or mutual society is an organization based on the principle of mutuality. Unlike a true cooperative, members usually do not contribute to the capital of the company by direct investment, but derive their right to profits and votes through their customer relationship...

 savings and loan organisations, a term which persisted in some of their names (such as the former Leeds Permanent). Nowadays such self-building may be financed using a step-by-step mortgage
Mortgage loan
A mortgage loan is a loan secured by real property through the use of a mortgage note which evidences the existence of the loan and the encumbrance of that realty through the granting of a mortgage which secures the loan...

 which is released in stages as the building is completed.

The term may also refer to worker cooperatives in the building trade.

Utility cooperative



A utility cooperative is a type of consumers' cooperative
Consumers' cooperative
Consumer cooperatives are enterprises owned by consumers and managed democratically which aim at fulfilling the needs and aspirations of their members. They operate within the market system, independently of the state, as a form of mutual aid, oriented toward service rather than pecuniary profit...

 that is tasked with the delivery of a public utility
Public utility
A public utility is an organization that maintains the infrastructure for a public service . Public utilities are subject to forms of public control and regulation ranging from local community-based groups to state-wide government monopolies...

 such as electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

, water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 or telecommunications services to its members. Profits
Profit (accounting)
In accounting, profit can be considered to be the difference between the purchase price and the costs of bringing to market whatever it is that is accounted as an enterprise in terms of the component costs of delivered goods and/or services and any operating or other expenses.-Definition:There are...

 are either reinvested into infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 or distributed to members in the form of "patronage" or "capital credits", which are essentially dividend
Dividend
Dividends are payments made by a corporation to its shareholder members. It is the portion of corporate profits paid out to stockholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, that money can be put to two uses: it can either be re-invested in the business , or it can be distributed to...

s paid on a member's investment
Investment
Investment has different meanings in finance and economics. Finance investment is putting money into something with the expectation of gain, that upon thorough analysis, has a high degree of security for the principal amount, as well as security of return, within an expected period of time...

 into the cooperative. In the United States, many cooperatives were formed to provide rural electrical and telephone service as part of the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

. See Rural Utilities Service
Rural Utilities Service
is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture , one of the federal executive departments of the United States government charged with providing public utilities to rural areas in the United States via public-private partnerships...

.

In the case of electricity, cooperatives are generally either generation and transmission (G&T) co-ops that create and send power via the transmission grid or local distribution co-ops that gather electricity from a variety of sources and send it along to homes and businesses.

In Tanzania, it has been proven that the cooperative method is helpful in water distribution. When the people are involved with their own water, they care more because the quality of their work has a direct effect on the quality of their water.

Agricultural cooperative




Agricultural cooperatives or farmers' cooperatives are cooperatives where farmer
Farmer
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing crops, such as produce and grain...

s pool their resources for mutual economic benefit. Agricultural cooperatives are broadly divided into agricultural service cooperatives, which provide various services to their individual farming members, and agricultural production cooperatives, where production resources such as land or machinery are pooled and members farm jointly. Agricultural production cooperatives are relatively rare in the world, and known examples are limited to collective farms in former socialist countries
CIS
CIS usually refers to the Commonwealth of Independent States, a modern political entity consisting of eleven former Soviet Union republics.The acronym CIS may also refer to:-Organizations:...

 and the kibbutzim in Israel.

Agricultural supply cooperatives aggregate purchases, storage, and distribution of farm inputs for their members. By taking advantage of volume discounts and utilizing other economies of scale, supply cooperatives bring down members' costs. Supply cooperatives may provide seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, fuel, and farm machinery. Some supply cooperatives also operate machinery pools that provide mechanical field services (e.g., plowing, harvesting) to their members.

Agricultural marketing cooperatives provide the services involved in moving a product from the point of production to the point of consumption. Agricultural marketing
Agricultural marketing
Agricultural marketing covers the services involved in moving an agricultural product from the farm to the consumer. Numerous interconnected activities are involved in doing this, such as planning production, growing and harvesting, grading, packing, transport, storage, agro- and food processing,...

 includes a series of inter-connected activities involving planning production, growing and harvest
Harvest
Harvest is the process of gathering mature crops from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper...

ing, grading, packing, transport, storage, food processing
Food processing
Food processing is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans or animals either in the home or by the food processing industry...

, distribution and sale. Agricultural marketing cooperatives are often formed to promote specific commodities.

Credit unions and cooperative banking




Credit union
Credit union
A credit union is a cooperative financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members...

s are cooperative financial institution
Financial institution
In financial economics, a financial institution is an institution that provides financial services for its clients or members. Probably the most important financial service provided by financial institutions is acting as financial intermediaries...

s that are owned and controlled by their members. Credit unions provide the same financial services
Financial services
Financial services refer to services provided by the finance industry. The finance industry encompasses a broad range of organizations that deal with the management of money. Among these organizations are credit unions, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, consumer finance companies,...

 as banks but are considered not-for-profit organizations and adhere to cooperative principles
Rochdale Principles
The Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives. They were first set out by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, in 1844, and have formed the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world operate to this day. The...

.

Credit unions originated in mid-19th century Germany through the efforts of pioneers Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch
Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch
Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch was a German economist. He was responsible for the organizing of the world's first credit unions.-History:Schulze-Delitzsch was born at Delitzsch, in Prussian Saxony...

 and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen was a German mayor and cooperative pioneer. Several credit union systems and cooperative banks have been named after Raiffeisen, who pioneered rural credit unions.- Life :...

. The concept of financial cooperatives crossed the Atlantic at the turn of the 20th century, when the caisse populaire movement was started by Alphonse Desjardins
Alphonse Desjardins (co-operator)
Gabriel-Alphonse Desjardins , born in Lévis, Quebec, was the co-founder of the Caisses Populaires Desjardins , a forerunner of North American credit unions and community banks.- Early life :...

 in Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. In 1900, from his home in Lévis
Lévis, Quebec
Lévis is a city in eastern Quebec, Canada. It is located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, opposite Quebec City. A ferry links Old Quebec with Old Lévis, and two bridges, the Quebec Bridge and the Pierre Laporte Bridge, connect western Lévis with Quebec City. The Société de transport de...

, he opened North America's first credit union, marking the beginning of the Mouvement Desjardins
Mouvement Desjardins
The Desjardins Group is the largest association of credit unions in North America. It was founded in 1900 in Lévis, Quebec by Alphonse Desjardins....

. Eight years later, Desjardins provided guidance for the first credit union in the United States
Credit unions in the United States
Credit unions in the United States served 89 million members as of 2008, comprising 43.7% of the economically active population. U.S. credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperative, tax-exempt organizations....

, where there are now about 7,950 active status federally insured credit unions, with almost 90 million members and more than $679 billion on deposit.

While they have not taken root so deeply as in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, credit unions are also established in the UK. The largest are work-based, but many are now offering services in the wider community. The Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL) represents the majority of British Credit Unions. British Building Societies
Building society
A building society is a financial institution owned by its members as a mutual organization. Building societies offer banking and related financial services, especially mortgage lending. These institutions are found in the United Kingdom and several other countries.The term "building society"...

 developed into general-purpose savings & banking institutions with "one member, one vote" ownership and can be seen as a form of financial cooperative (although nine 'de-mutualised
Demutualization
Demutualization is the process by which a customer-owned mutual organization or co-operative changes legal form to a joint stock company. It is sometimes called stocking or privatization. As part of the demutualization process, members of a mutual usually receive a "windfall" payout, in the form...

' into conventionally owned banks in the 1980s & 1990s). The UK Co-operative Group includes both an insurance
Insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

 provider CIS and the Co-operative Bank
Co-operative Bank
The Co-operative Bank plc is a commercial bank in the United Kingdom and Guernsey, with its headquarters in Manchester.The bank markets itself as an ethical bank, and refuses to invest in companies involved in the arms trade, global climate change, genetic engineering, animal testing and use of...

, both noted for promoting ethical investment.

Other important European banking cooperatives include the Crédit Agricole
Crédit Agricole
Crédit Agricole S.A. is the largest retail banking group in France, second largest in Europe and the eighth largest in the world by Tier 1 capital according to The Banker magazine. It is also part of the CAC 40 stock market index....

 in France, Migros
Migros
Migros is one of Switzerland's largest enterprises, its largest supermarket chain and largest employer. It co-founded Turkey's largest retailer, Migros Türk, which became independent of Migros Switzerland in 1975....

 and Coop Bank in Switzerland and the Raiffeisen
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen was a German mayor and cooperative pioneer. Several credit union systems and cooperative banks have been named after Raiffeisen, who pioneered rural credit unions.- Life :...

 system in many Central and Eastern European countries. The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and various European countries also have strong cooperative banks. They play an important part in mortgage credit and professional (i.e. farming) credit.

Cooperative banking networks, which were nationalized in Eastern Europe, work now as real cooperative institutions. A remarkable development has taken place in Poland, where the SKOK (Spóldzielcze Kasy Oszczednosciowo-Kredytowe) network has grown to serve over 1 million members via 13,000 branches, and is larger than the country’s largest conventional bank.

In Scandinavia
Nordic countries
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

, there is a clear distinction between mutual savings bank
Mutual savings bank
A mutual savings bank is a financial institution chartered by a central or regional government, without capital stock, that is owned by its members who subscribe to a common fund. From this fund claims, loans, etc., are paid. Profits after deductions are shared between the members...

s (Sparbank) and true credit unions (Andelsbank).

The oldest cooperative banks in Europe, based on the ideas of Friedrich Raiffeisen, are joined together in the 'Urgenossen'.

Federal or secondary cooperatives



In some cases, cooperative societies find it advantageous to form cooperative federation
Cooperative federation
A co-operative federation or secondary co-operative is a co-operative in which all members are, in turn, co-operatives.Historically, co-operative federations have predominantly come in the form of co-operative wholesale societies and co-operative unions...

s in which all of the members are themselves cooperatives. Historically, these have predominantly come in the form of cooperative wholesale societies, and cooperative unions. Cooperative federations are a means through which cooperative societies can fulfill the sixth Rochdale Principle
Rochdale Principles
The Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives. They were first set out by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, in 1844, and have formed the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world operate to this day. The...

, cooperation among cooperatives, with the ICA noting that "Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures."

Cooperative wholesale society



According to cooperative economist Charles Gide
Charles Gide
Charles Gide was a leading French economist and historian of economic thought. He was a professor at the University of Bordeaux, at Montpellier, at Université de Paris and finally at Collège de France.- Academic work :...

, the aim of a cooperative wholesale society is to arrange “bulk purchases, and, if possible, organise production.” The best historical example of this were the English CWS and the Scottish CWS, which were the forerunners to the modern Co-operative Group
The Co-operative Group
The Co-operative Group Ltd. is a United Kingdom consumer cooperative with a diverse range of business interests. It is co-operatively run and owned by its members. It is the largest organisation of this type in the world, with over 5.5 million members, who all have a say in how the business is...

.

Cooperative Union



A second common form of cooperative federation is a cooperative union, whose objective (according to Gide) is “to develop the spirit of solidarity among societies and... in a word, to exercise the functions of a government whose authority, it is needless to say, is purely moral.” Co-operatives UK and the International Cooperative Alliance are examples of such arrangements.

Cooperative party



In some countries with a strong cooperative sector, such as the UK, cooperatives may find it advantageous to form a parliamentary political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 to represent their interests. The British Cooperative Party and the Canadian Cooperative Commonwealth Federation are prime examples of such arrangements.

The British cooperative movement formed the Cooperative Party in the early 20th century to represent members of consumers' cooperative
Consumers' cooperative
Consumer cooperatives are enterprises owned by consumers and managed democratically which aim at fulfilling the needs and aspirations of their members. They operate within the market system, independently of the state, as a form of mutual aid, oriented toward service rather than pecuniary profit...

s in Parliament. The Cooperative Party now has a permanent electoral pact with the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

, and has 29 members of parliament who were elected at the 2005 general election
United Kingdom general election, 2005
The United Kingdom general election of 2005 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2005 to elect 646 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party under Tony Blair won its third consecutive victory, but with a majority of 66, reduced from 160....

 as Labour Cooperative MPs
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

. UK cooperatives retain a significant market share in food retail, insurance, banking, funeral services, and the travel industry in many parts of the country.

See also



  • Cooperative economics
  • Co-operative living arrangements
    Co-operative living arrangements
    Co-operative living arrangements occur when three or more unrelated people chose to live together and share a common residential structure.Typically, in these co-ops, several people occupy a single dwelling unit, such as a large house, with each person having a private area, including a bedroom...

  • Collective
    Collective
    A collective is a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together on a specific project to achieve a common objective...

  • Common ownership
    Common ownership
    Common ownership is a principle according to which the assets of an enterprise or other organization are held indivisibly rather than in the names of the individual members or by a public institution such as a governmental body. It is therefore in contrast to public ownership...

  • Commune (intentional community)
    Commune (intentional community)
    A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

  • Cost the limit of price
    Cost the limit of price
    Cost the limit of price was a maxim coined by Josiah Warren, indicating a version of the labor theory of value. Warren maintained that the just compensation for labor could only be an equivalent amount of labor . Thus, profit, rent, and interest were considered unjust economic arrangements...

  • Danish cooperative movement
    Danish cooperative movement
    The Danish cooperative movement was a means of economical organization under leadership of consumer- or producer-controlled corporations, where each individual member owned a part of the corporation. The type of organization was especially used in the farming industry and in consumer organizations...

  • Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

  • Employee-owned corporation
    Employee-owned corporation
    An employee share ownership plan is the practice of companies giving staff members shares in their company as part of their salary....

  • Friendly Society
    Friendly society
    A friendly society is a mutual association for insurance, pensions or savings and loan-like purposes, or cooperative banking. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose...

  • History of the cooperative movement
    History of the cooperative movement
    The history of the cooperative movement concerns the origins and history of cooperatives. Although cooperative arrangements, such as mutual insurance, and principles of cooperation existed long before, the cooperative movement began with the application of cooperative principles to business...

  • Industrial and provident society
    Industrial and Provident Society
    An industrial and provident society is a legal entity for a trading business or voluntary organisation in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and New Zealand...

  • List of Co-operative Federations
  • List of cooperatives
  • Microfinance
    Microfinance
    Microfinance is the provision of financial services to low-income clients or solidarity lending groups including consumers and the self-employed, who traditionally lack access to banking and related services....

     / microcredit
    Microcredit
    Microcredit is the extension of very small loans to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit...

  • Mondragón Cooperative Corporation
    Mondragón Cooperative Corporation
    The MONDRAGON Corporation is a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain. Founded in the town of Mondragón in 1956, its origin is linked to the activity of a modest technical college and a small workshop producing paraffin heaters...

  • mutual aid
    Mutual aid (politics)
    Mutual aid is a term in organization theory used to signify a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. Mutual aid is arguably as ancient as human culture; an intrinsic part of the small, communal societies universal to humanity's ancient past...

  • Mutual organization
    Mutual organization
    A mutual, mutual organization, or mutual society is an organization based on the principle of mutuality. Unlike a true cooperative, members usually do not contribute to the capital of the company by direct investment, but derive their right to profits and votes through their customer relationship...

  • Mutual Ownership Defense Housing Division
    Mutual Ownership Defense Housing Division
    The Mutual Ownership Defense Housing Division of the Federal Works Agency part of the United States government, operating from about 1940 to 1942 under the leadership of Colonel Lawrence Westbrook, was an attempt by the United States Government, late in the New Deal, to respond to the housing needs...

  • Mutualism (economic theory)
    Mutualism (economic theory)
    Mutualism is an anarchist school of thought that originates in the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who envisioned a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market...

  • Neo-Capitalism
    Neo-Capitalism
    Neo-Capitalism, literally means "New Capitalism". This economic theory fuses some elements of capitalism. The new capitalism was new compared to the capitalism in the era before World War II....

  • Participatory democracy
    Participatory democracy
    Participatory Democracy, also known as Deliberative Democracy, Direct Democracy and Real Democracy , is a process where political decisions are made directly by regular people...

  • Participatory economics
    Participatory economics
    Participatory economics, often abbreviated parecon, is an economic system proposed primarily by activist and political theorist Michael Albert and radical economist Robin Hahnel, among others. It uses participatory decision making as an economic mechanism to guide the production, consumption and...

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
    Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
    Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen was a German mayor and cooperative pioneer. Several credit union systems and cooperative banks have been named after Raiffeisen, who pioneered rural credit unions.- Life :...

  • Rochdale Principles
    Rochdale Principles
    The Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives. They were first set out by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, in 1844, and have formed the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world operate to this day. The...

  • Social economy
    Social economy
    Social economy refers to a third sector in economies between the private sector and business or, the public sector and government. It includes organisations such as cooperatives, non-governmental organisations and charities....

  • Social enterprise
    Social enterprise
    A social enterprise is an organization that applies business strategies to achieving philanthropic goals. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit....

  • Syndicalism
    Syndicalism
    Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...

  • Socialism
    Socialism
    Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...



Further reading


External links