Cooperative

The volunteer board of a retail consumers' cooperative, such as the former Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op, is held to account at an annual general meeting of members

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 enterprise".[1] Cooperatives are democratically owned by their members, with each member having one vote in electing the board of directors. Cooperatives may include:

  • businesses owned and managed by the people who use their services (a consumer cooperative)
  • organizations managed by the people who work there (worker cooperatives)
  • multi-stakeholder or hybrid cooperatives that share ownership between different stakeholder groups. For example, care cooperatives where ownership is shared between both care-givers and receivers. Stakeholders might also include non-profits or investors.
  • second- and third-tier cooperatives whose members are other cooperatives
  • platform cooperatives that use a cooperatively owned and governed website, mobile app or a protocol to facilitate the sale of goods and services.

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.[2] The turnover of the largest three hundred cooperatives in the world reached $2.2 trillion.[3]

Cooperative businesses are typically more productive[4] and 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%) according to data from United Kingdom.[5] The largest cooperative in the world, the Mondragon Corporation (founded by Catholic priest José María Arizmendiarrieta), has been in continuous operation since 1956.[6]

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 rival supermarkets.[7]

Since 2002 cooperatives have been distinguishable on the Internet through the use of a .coop domain. In 2014, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) introduced the Cooperative Marque, meaning ICA cooperatives and WOCCU credit unions can also be identified through a coop ethical consumerism label.

  1. ^ Statement on the Cooperative Identity. International Cooperative Alliance.
  2. ^ "Membership in Co-operative Businesses Reaches 1 Billion – Worldwatch Institute". Archived from the original on 18 June 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 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 publication.
  3. ^ "The World Co-operative Monitor". monitor.coop.
  4. ^ Michelle Chen (26 March 2016). "Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies". The Nation.
  5. ^ https://www.uk.coop/sites/default/files/2020-10/co-operative_survival_1.pdf
  6. ^ Kontrast.at (8 March 2020). "Mondragón: One of Spain´s largest corporations belongs to its workers". scoop.me. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Community investment index: giving back to neighbourhoods". thenews.coop. Archived from the original on 26 June 2015.