A 'Member-Owned Business' Approach to the Classification of Co-operatives and Mutuals



Birchall J (2011) A 'Member-Owned Business' Approach to the Classification of Co-operatives and Mutuals. Journal of Co-operative Studies, 44 (2), pp. 4-15.

Co-operatives are defined according to co-operative principles and an identity statement endorsed by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). The article argues that this is too much taken for granted, and that more work needs to be done. It provides a brief history of the co-operative principles, showing how the ICA has codified and periodically revised them. It discusses several difficulties with this approach and suggests an alternative based on the concept of member-owned businesses. Three main stakeholders are identified and the different types of co-operative are put into a comprehensive classificatory system. Co-operatives are placed firmly in the category of 'private sector' rather than in categories that privilege the social over the economic. It suggests co-operative federations should adopt a member-ownership framework, extend a welcome to other types of member-owned business, and through this approach align their membership and business strategies.

Journal of Co-operative Studies: Volume 44, Issue 2

Publication date31/08/2011
PublisherUK Society for Co-operative Studies
Publisher URL…0000002/art00002