Book Chapter

A 'member-owned business' approach to the classification of co-operatives and mutuals



Birchall J (2012) A 'member-owned business' approach to the classification of co-operatives and mutuals. In: McDonnell D & McKnight E (eds.) The Co-operative Model in Practice: International Perspectives. Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, pp. 67-82.

First paragraph: Co-operatives are defined according to co-operative principles and an identity statement endorsed by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). The essay 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.

Publication date31/12/2012
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
Publisher URL…Perspectives.pdf
Place of publicationAberdeen