A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an
autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their
common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a
jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise".
Cooperatives may include:
non-profit community organizations
businesses owned and managed by the people who use their services (a
organisations managed by the people who work there (worker
organisations managed by the people to whom they provide accommodation
hybrids such as worker cooperatives that are also consumer
cooperatives or credit unions
multi-stakeholder cooperatives such as those that bring together civil
society and local actors to deliver community needs
second- and third-tier cooperatives whose members are other
Research published by the
Worldwatch Institute found that in 2012
approximately one billion people in 96 countries had become members of
at least one cooperative. The turnover of the largest three hundred
cooperatives in the world reached $2.2 trillion – which, if they
were to be a country, it would make them the seventh largest.[need
quotation to verify]
One dictionary defines a cooperative as "a jointly owned enterprise
engaging in the production or distribution of goods or the supplying
of services, operated by its members for their mutual benefit,
typically organized by consumers or farmers". Cooperative
businesses are typically more economically resilient than many other
forms of enterprise, with twice the number of co-operatives (80%)
surviving their first five years compared with other business
ownership models (41%). Cooperatives frequently have social goals
which they aim to accomplish by investing a proportion of trading
profits back into their communities. As an example of this, in 2013,
retail co-operatives in the UK invested 6.9% of their pre-tax profits
in the communities in which they trade as compared with 2.4% for other
International Co-operative Alliance
International Co-operative Alliance was the first international
association formed (1895) by the cooperative movement.[citation
needed] It includes the World Council of Credit Unions. A second
organization formed later in Germany: the International Raiffeisen
Union. In the United States, the National
Association (NCBA CLUSA; the abbreviation of the organization retains
the initials of its former name,
Cooperative League of the USA) serves
as the sector's oldest national membership association. It is
dedicated to ensuring that cooperative businesses have the same
opportunities as other businesses operating in the country and that
consumers have access to cooperatives in the marketplace. A U.S.
National Cooperative Bank formed in the 1970s. By 2004 a new
association focused on worker co-ops was founded, the United States
Federation of Worker Cooperatives.
Since 2002 cooperatives and credit unions could be distinguished on
the Internet by use of a
.coop domain. Since 2014, following
Cooperative Alliance's introduction of the Cooperative
Marque, ICA cooperatives and WOCCU credit unions can also be
identified by a coop ethical consumerism label.
2 Social economy
3 Organizational and ideological roots
4.1 Cooperatives as legal entities
4.2.1 Coop Marque and domain
4.2.2 Coop principles and values
5 Economic stability
5.1 In the United Kingdom
5.2 Other countries in Europe
5.3 In Canada
5.4 In the United States of America
6 Types of cooperatives
6.1 Non-monetary cooperative
6.2 Retailers' cooperative
6.3 Worker cooperative
6.4 Volunteer cooperative
6.5 Social cooperative
6.6 Consumers' cooperative
Business and employment cooperative
6.8 New generation cooperative
7 Types and number of cooperatives
7.1 Housing cooperative
7.2 Utility cooperative
7.3 Agricultural cooperative
7.4 Credit unions, cooperative banking and co-operative insurance
7.5 Federal or secondary cooperatives
Cooperative wholesale society
Cooperative political movements
8 Women in cooperatives
9 Cooperatives in popular culture
10 See also
13 External links
Main article: History of the cooperative movement
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 in 1472.
Pre-industrial Europe is home to the first cooperatives from an
Robert Owen (1771–1858) was a social reformer and a pioneer of the
In 1761, the
Fenwick Weavers' Society was formed in Fenwick, East
Scotland to sell discounted oatmeal to local workers.
Its services expanded to include assistance with savings and loans,
emigration and education. In 1810, Welsh social reformer Robert Owen,
from Newtown in mid-Wales, and his partners purchased
New Lanark mill
from Owen's father-in-law
David Dale 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 coop ideas through writing and
Cooperative communities were set up in Glasgow,
Hampshire, although ultimately unsuccessful. In 1828, William King set
up a newspaper, The Cooperator, to promote Owen's thinking, having
already set up a cooperative store in Brighton.
Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, (RCEP) founded in 1844, is
usually considered the first successful cooperative enterprise, used
as a model for modern coops, following the '
Rochdale Principles'. A
group of 28 weavers and other artisans in Rochdale, England set up the
society to open their own store selling food items they could not
otherwise afford. Within ten years there were over a thousand
cooperative societies in the United Kingdom.
Other events such as the founding of a friendly society by the
Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1832 were key occasions in the creation of
organized labor and consumer movements.
Cooperatives traditionally combine social benefit interests with
capitalistic property-right interests. Cooperatives achieve a mix of
social and capital purposes by democratically governing distribution
questions by and between equal by not controlling members. Democratic
oversight of decisions to equitably distribute assets and other
benefits means capital ownership is arranged in a way for social
benefit inside the organization. External societal benefit is also
encouraged by incorporating the operating-principle of cooperation
between co-operatives. In the final year of the 20th century,
cooperatives banded together to establish a number of social
enterprise agencies which have moved to adopt the multi-stakeholder
cooperative model. In the years 1994–2009 the EU and its member
nations gradually revised national accounting systems to "make
visible" the increasing contribution of social economy
Organizational and ideological roots
The roots of the cooperative movement can be traced to multiple
influences and extend worldwide. In the English-speaking world,
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 principles that underpinned
welfare 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 grew throughout the
British Empire 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 was practiced in organisation decision-making. The principles
challenged the idea that a person should be an owner of property
before being granted a political voice. Throughout the second half of
the nineteenth century (and then repeatedly every twenty years or so)
there was a surge in the number of cooperative organisations, both in
commercial practice and civil society, operating to advance democracy
and universal suffrage 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 member's cooperative contribution (as a producer,
labourer or consumer) rather than their capacity to invest financial
The cooperative movement has been fueled globally by ideas of economic
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. Anarchists are committed to libertarian socialism
and 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 politically, militarily and culturally
mobilized for the purpose of maintaining an exploitable working class,
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, either through democratic socialism, or through
what came to be known as Leninism. 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 of global
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.
There are specific forms of incorporation for cooperatives in some
countries, e.g. Finland and Australia. Cooperatives may take
the form of companies limited by shares or by guarantee, partnerships
or unincorporated associations. In the UK they may also use the
industrial and provident society structure. In the US, cooperatives
are often organized as non-capital stock corporations under
state-specific cooperative laws. However, they may also be
unincorporated associations or business corporations such as limited
liability companies or partnerships; such forms are useful when the
members want to allow:
some members to have a greater share of the control, or
some investors to have a return on their capital that exceeds fixed
neither of which may be allowed under local laws for cooperatives.
Cooperatives often share their earnings with the membership as
dividends, 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).
Coop Marque and domain
Since 2002, ICA cooperatives and WOCCU credit unions could be
distinguished by use of a
.coop domain. In 2014, ICA introduced the
Cooperative Marque for use by ICA's
and by WOCCU's Credit Union members so they can be further
identified by their coop ethical consumerism label. The marque is
used today by thousands of cooperatives in more than a hundred
.coop domain and Co-operative Marque were designed as a new symbol
of the global cooperative movement and its collective identity in the
digital age. The domain and coop marque differentiates coop products
and e-services offerings of the Movement from all other forms of
business, both investor-owned and privately owned businesses. It
specifically recognises its rapidly changing role in society, marked
by the emergence of the digital cooperative. The
.coop (dot coop)
domain and a global Co-operative Marque are open for use within all
types of ICA cooperatives and WOCCU credit unions on their products or
digital services, in combination with individual cooperative's own
The Co-operative Marque and domain is reserved just for co-operatives,
credit unions and organisations that support co-operatives; is
distinguished by its ethical badge that subscribes to the seven ICA
Cooperative Principles and Co-op Values. Co-ops can be identified on
the Internet through the use of the
.coop suffix of internet
addresses. Organizations using
.coop domain names must adhere to the
basic co-op values.
Coop principles and values
Cooperative principles are the seven guidelines by which coops put
their values into practice, often called the seven Rochdale
Voluntary and open membership
Democratic member control
Economic participation by members
Autonomy and independence
Education, training and information
Cooperation among cooperatives
Concern for community
Cooperatives values, in the tradition of its founders, are based on
"self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and
solidarity." Co-operative members believe in the ethical values of
honesty, 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 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
United Nations declared 2012 to be the International Year of
Main article: Economic stability
Capital and the Debt Trap reports that "cooperatives tend to have a
longer life than other types of enterprise, and thus a higher level of
entrepreneurial sustainability". This resilience has been attributed
to how cooperatives share risks and rewards between members, how they
harness the ideas of many and how members have a tangible ownership
stake in the business. Additionally, "cooperative banks build up
counter-cyclical buffers that function well in case of a crisis," and
are less likely to lead members and clients towards a debt trap
(p. 216). This is explained by their more democratic governance
that reduces perverse incentives and subsequent contributions to
In the United Kingdom
A 2013 report published by the UK Office for National Statistics
showed that in the UK the rate of survival of cooperatives after five
years was 80 percent compared with only 41 percent for all other
enterprises. A further study found that after ten years 44 percent
of cooperatives were still in operation, compared with only 20 percent
for all enterprises.
Other countries in Europe
A 2012 report published by The European Confederation of cooperatives
and worker-owned enterprises active in industry and services showed
that in France and Spain, worker cooperatives and social cooperatives
“have been more resilient than conventional enterprises during the
A 2010 report by the Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and
Export in Québec found that the five-year survival rate and 10-year
survival rate of cooperatives in Québec to be 62% and 44%
respectively compared to 35% and 20% for conventional firms.
Another report by the BC-Alberta
Social economy Research Alliance
found that the three-year survival rate of cooperatives in Alberta to
be 81.5% in comparison to 48% for traditional firms. Another
report by the aforementioned Research Alliance found that in
British-Columbia, the 5-year survival rates for cooperatives between
2000 and 2010 to be 66.6% in comparison to conventional businesses
that had 43% and 39% in the years 1984 and 1993 respectively
In the United States of America
In a 2007 study by the World Council of Credit Unions, the 5-year
survival rate of cooperatives in the United States was found to be 90%
in comparison to 3-5% for traditional businesses.
Types of cooperatives
A non-monetary cooperative provides a service based on entirely
voluntary labour in the maintenance and provision of a particular
service or good, working in the identical manner of a library. These
co-ops are locally owned and operated and provides the free rental of
equipments of all kinds (bicycles, sports, gear). This idea has been
said to reduce general human consumption of goods, a key subject in
sustainable development.
Main article: Retailers' cooperative
A retailers' cooperative (known as a secondary or marketing
cooperative in some countries) is an organization which employs
economies of scale on behalf of its members to receive discounts from
manufacturers and to pool marketing. It is common for locally owned
grocery stores, hardware stores and pharmacies. In this case, the
members of the cooperative are businesses rather than individuals.
Best Western international hotel chain is actually a retailers'
cooperative, whose members are hotel operators, although it refers to
itself as 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.
Main article: Worker cooperative
A worker cooperative 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. 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.
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 or mutual organization, which is operated
according to the principles of cooperative governance. The most basic
form of volunteer-run cooperative is a voluntary association. A lodge
or social club may be organized on this basis. A volunteer-run co-op
is distinguished from a worker cooperative in that the latter is by
definition employee-owned, whereas the volunteer cooperative is
typically a non-stock corporation, 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.
Main article: Social cooperative
A particularly successful form of multi-stakeholder cooperative is the
Italian "social cooperative", of which some 11,000 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 labor 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
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
Main article: 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 among 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.
The world's largest consumers' cooperative is the Co-operative Group
in the United Kingdom, 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 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), and individual retail consumer members.
Business and employment cooperative
Business and employment co-operative
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, BEC's 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 or public benefit corporations. They were
first developed in
California 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 to primary products. For example,
producing ethanol from corn, pasta from durum wheat, or gourmet cheese
from goat’s milk. A representative example of an operating NGC is
the Fourth Estate (association), a multi-stakeholder NGC journalism
Types and number of cooperatives
Co-op City in The Bronx,
New York City
New York City is the largest cooperative
housing development in the world, with 55,000 people.
The two largest supermarkets chains in Switzerland,
Migros and Coop,
are cooperatives. The third largest bank, Raiffeisen, is a cooperative
The top 300 largest cooperatives were listed in 2007 by the
International Co-operative Alliance. 80% were involved in either
agriculture, finance, or retail and more than half were in the United
States, Italy, or France. In the United States, cooperatives,
particularly those in the Midwest, are analyzed at the University of
Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives.
Housing cooperative and Building cooperative
A housing cooperative 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
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.
Limited equity housing cooperatives, which are often used by
affordable housing 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 labor. When the building is finished,
each member is the sole owner of a homestead, and the cooperative may
This collective effort was at the origin of many of Britain's building
societies, which however, developed into "permanent" mutual 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 which is released in stages
as the building is completed. The term may also refer to worker
cooperatives in the building trade.
Main article: Utility cooperative
A utility cooperative is a type of consumers' cooperative that is
tasked with the delivery of a public utility such as electricity,
water or telecommunications services to its members. Profits are
either reinvested into infrastructure or distributed to members in the
form of "patronage" or "capital credits", which are essentially
dividends paid on a member's investment into the cooperative. In the
United States, many cooperatives were formed to provide rural
electrical and telephone service as part of the New Deal. See Rural
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.
Grain elevators are used by agricultural cooperatives in the storage
and shipping of grains.
Main article: Agricultural cooperative
Agricultural cooperatives or farmers' cooperatives are cooperatives
where farmers 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. Known examples of agricultural production
cooperatives are the cranberry-and-grapefruit cooperative Ocean Spray,
collective farms in socialist states 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
Agricultural marketing cooperatives provide the services involved in
moving a product from the point of production to the point of
Agricultural marketing includes a series of
interconnected activities involving planning production, growing and
harvesting, grading, packing, transport, storage, food processing,
distribution and sale.
Agricultural marketing cooperatives are often
formed to promote specific commodities.
Commercially successful cooperatives include India's
Dairy Farmers of America (dairy products) in the United
States, and Malaysia's
FELDA (palm oil).
Credit unions, cooperative banking and co-operative insurance
Cooperative banking and Credit union
The Co-operative Bank's head office in Manchester. The statue in front
is of Robert Owen, a pioneer in the cooperative movement.
Credit unions are cooperative financial institutions that are owned
and controlled by their members.
Credit unions provide the same
financial services as banks but are considered not-for-profit
organizations and adhere to cooperative principles.
Credit unions originated in mid-19th-century Germany through the
efforts of pioneers Franz Herman Schulze'Delitzsch and Friedrich
Wilhelm Raiffeisen. 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 in Quebec, Canada. In
1900, from his home in Lévis, he opened North America's first credit
union, marking the beginning of the Mouvement Desjardins. Eight years
later, Desjardins provided guidance for the first credit union in the
United States, 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.
Cooperative banking networks, which were nationalized in Eastern
Europe, work now as real cooperative institutions. In Poland, the SKOK
(Spółdzielcze Kasy Oszczędnościowo-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, there is a clear distinction between mutual savings
banks (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 federations 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, cooperation among
cooperatives, with the ICA noting that "Cooperatives serve their
members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by
working together through local, regional and international
See also: List of Co-operative Federations
Cooperative wholesale society
Cooperative wholesale society
According to cooperative economist Charles Gide, the aim of a
cooperative wholesale society is to arrange "bulk purchases, and, if
possible, organise production." The best historical example of this
was the English CWS and the Scottish CWS, which were the forerunners
to the modern Co-operative Group. Today, its national buying
Co-operative Retail Trading Group
Co-operative Retail Trading Group performs a similar
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
Co-operatives UK and the International
are examples of such arrangements.
Cooperative political movements
In some countries with a strong cooperative sector, such as the UK,
cooperatives may find it advantageous to form political groupings to
represent their interests. The British Co-operative Party, the
Cooperative Commonwealth Federation
Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and United Farmers of
Alberta are prime examples of such arrangements.
British cooperative movement
British cooperative movement formed the
Co-operative Party in the
early 20th century to represent members of consumers' cooperatives in
Parliament, which was the first of its kind. The Co-operative Party
now has a permanent electoral pact with the Labour Party meaning
someone cannot be a member if they support a party other than Labour.
Plaid Cymru also run a credit union that is constituted as a
co-operative, called the '
Plaid Cymru Credit Union'. UK
cooperatives retain a strong market share in food retail, insurance,
banking, funeral services, and the travel industry in many parts of
the country, although this is still significantly lower than other
Cooperative NATCCO Party (Coop-NATCCO) is a party-list in the
Philippines which serves as the electoral wing of the National
Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO).
Coop-NATCCO has represented
the Philippine co-operative sector in the Philippine 11th Congress
Women in cooperatives
Main article: Women in cooperatives
Since cooperatives are based on values like self-help, democracy,
equality, equity, and solidarity, they can play a particularly strong
role in empowering women, especially in developing countries.
Cooperatives allow women who might have been isolated and working
individually to band together and create economies of scale as well as
increase their own bargaining power in the market. In statements in
International Women's Day
International Women's Day in early 2013, President of the
Cooperative Alliance, Dame Pauline Green, said,
Cooperative businesses have done so much to help women onto the
ladder of economic activity. With that comes community respect,
political legitimacy and influence."
However, despite the supposed democratic structure of cooperatives and
the values and benefits shared by members, due to gender norms on the
traditional role of women, and other instilled cultural practices that
sidestep attempted legal protections, women suffer a
disproportionately low representation in cooperative membership around
the world. Representation of women through active membership (showing
up to meetings and voting), as well as in leadership and managerial
positions is even lower.
Cooperatives in popular culture
As of 2012[update], the number of memberships in cooperatives reached
one billion, and so the organizational structure and movement has
seeped into popular culture.
HBO drama television series The Wire, several drug dealers
create a democratic alliance called the
New Day Co-Op
New Day Co-Op with the
interests of cutting back on violence and increasing business.
Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives is a popular board game played
around the world that challenges players to work together to start and
run a cooperative and overcome major hurdles.
My So-Called Housing
Cooperative is a web series focusing on the
humorous side of living in a housing co-op.
Commune (intentional community)
Cost the limit of price
Danish cooperative movement
Employee stock ownership plan
FC Barcelona (the world's first cooperative-based football club)
History of the cooperative movement
Industrial and provident society
List of co-operative federations
List of cooperatives
Microfinance / microcredit
Ownership Defense Housing Division
Mutualism (economic theory)
Online media cooperative
Polytechnic University of the Philippines College of Cooperatives and
Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
^ Statement on the
Cooperative Identity. Archived 4 February 2012 at
the Wayback Machine. International
^ "Membership in Co-operative Businesses Reaches 1 Billion -
Worldwatch Institute". Membership in co-operative businesses has grown
to 1 billion people across 96 countries, according to new research
published by the
Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online
^ "The World Co-operative Monitor". monitor.coop.
^ "Dictionary.com - Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at
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^ a b
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Community Impact - National
Cooperative Bank". National Cooperative
Bank, N.A. 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-11. Chartered by Congress in 1978
and privatized in 1981 as a cooperatively owned financial institution,
NCB was created to address the financial needs of an underserved
market: cooperative owned organizations that operate for the benefit
of their members, not outside investors.
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^ Europe, CICOPA. "About Us".
^ Carrell, Severin. Strike
Rochdale from the record books. The Co-op
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^ "Full text of "Dr. William King and the Co-operator, 1828–1830"".
^ "Dr. William King and the Co-operator, 1828–1830, T. W. MERCER,
^ Marlow, Joyce, The Tolpuddle Martyrs, London :History Book
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^ Gates, J. (1998) The
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^ Rothschild, J., Allen-Whitt, J. (1986) The
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^ Rothschild, J., Allen-Whitt, J. (1986) The cooperative workplace,
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^ Cliff, T., Cluckstein, D. (1988) The Labour Party: A Marxist
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^ "What is a co-operative - Co-operatives UK".
^ Osuuskuntalaki (421/2013, Cooperatives act).§2: "Osuuskunta on
jäsenistään erillinen oikeushenkilö, joka syntyy
rekisteröimisellä." This translates as, "A cooperative is a legal
person separate from its persons, born by registration." Finlex
database. Retrieved 2015-12-04. (in Finnish)
^ "Australian Co-operative Glossary".
^ "Coop Marque". Coop Identity. International Cooperative
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International Co-operative Alliance.
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Cooperative Alliance.Statement on the Cooperative
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^ Andrew McLeod (December 2006). Types of Cooperatives. Northwest
Cooperative Development Centre. Retrieved on: 2011-07-31.
^ "UN's official website". Retrieved 25 February 2012.
^ a b "A11 Report - Alberta Co-op Survival (PDF)" (PDF).
^ "10 Facts About
Cooperative Enterprise - Grassroots Economic
^ In 2011 the official total was 11,264: ISTAT, 9° Censimento
dell’industria e dei servizi (Roma, 2011)
^ "New Generation Cooperatives - 10 Things You Need to Know".
Government of Alberta: Agriculture and Rural Development. Retrieved 25
^ Whitsett, Ross. Urban Mass: A Look at Co-op City. The Cooperator.
^ Cobia, David, editor, Cooperatives in Agriculture, Prentice-Hall,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ (1989), p. 50.
Plaid Cymru Credit Union website". ucpccu.org.
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34 Iss: 8, pp.975 - 1002
^ "What is a Cooperative?". un.org.
^ Nippierd, A. (2002). "Gender issues in cooperatives." Geneva,
Switzerland: International Labour Organization
^ "Membership in Co-operative Businesses Reaches 1 Billion,"
^ "Co-opoly: The Game of Co-operatives". The Toolbox for Education and
^ "Teach Your Children Well: Don't Play Monopoly", Truthout.org
^ My So-Called Housing Cooperative. youtube.com.
Neoliberal Co-optation of Leading Co-op Organizations, and a Socialist
Counter-Politics of Cooperation (February 2015), Carl Ratner, Monthly
Review, Volume 66, Number 9
Cooperatives On the Path to Socialism? (February 2015), Peter Marcuse,
Monthly Review, Volume 66, Number 9
Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union (2003). "co.op, 2003 Facts and
Figures" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 May 2005.
Isao Takamura (1995). "Japan: Consumer Co-op Movement in Japan".
Armitage, S. (1991) 'Consequences of Mutual
Ownership for Building
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Birchall, Johnston. "The International Co-operative Movement", 1997
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a Changing World"(ICA), 1989
Bernardi A., Monni S., eds., (2016), "The Co-operative firm –
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Cooperative League of America. Co-operation 1921–1947
Cornforth, C. J. et al. Developing Successful Worker Co-ops, London:
Sage Publications, 1988.
Curl, John. "For All The People: Uncovering the Hidden History of
Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America," PM
Dana, Leo Paul 2010, "Nunavik, Arctic Quebec: Where Co-operatives
Supplement Entrepreneurship," Global
Business and Economics Review 12
(1/2), January 2010, pp. 42–71.
Derr, Jascha. The cooperative movement of Brazil and South Africa,
Emerson, John. "Consider the Collective: More than business as usual"
2005. Article on graphic design and printing cooperatives.
Gide, Charles. Consumers' Co-operative Societies, 1922
Holyoake, George Jacob. The History of Co-operation, 1908
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Vicari S., (2015), "2014 Annual Report on FAO’s projects and
activities in support of producer organizations and cooperatives"
Vieta, Marco (ed.) "The New Cooperativism" in Affinities: A Journal of
Radical Theory, Culture, and Action, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2010
Warbasse, James Peter.
Cooperative Peace, 1950
Warbasse, James Peter. Problems Of Cooperation, 1941
Whyte, W. F. and Whyte, K. K. Making Mondragon, New York: ILR
Zeuli, Kimebrly A. and Cropp, Robert. Cooperatives: Principles and
practices in the 21st century, 2004
Understanding Cooperatives, a curriculum on cooperative business for
secondary school students.
India: Re-inventing cooperatives by increasing youth involvement
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Media related to Cooperatives at Wikimedia Commons
Revolution from Dollars & Sense magazine
United Nations 2012 International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) official
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