Cooperative

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A Cooperative is a generic name given to formalized economic projects that are ran for an egalitarian benefit rather than for the interests of a few.

Structure

Most cooperatives use following cooperative models when designing the structure of the business:

  • Consumer's Cooperative
Grew out of the Enlightenment-era concept of a "buying club." consumer cooperatives vary from more traditional buying clubs to user-owned and user-controlled utilities (mostly with electric and telecommunications) This model can usually be summarized as one for organization whose purpose is to manage the use of a good or service rather than production of a good or service.
  • Workers Cooperative
As defined by the Oslo Declaration a worker's cooperative is:
  • Organized for the benefit of the worker-owners while still producing wealth
  • Free and voluntary membership.
  • Majority of work being carried out is done so by members. This usually translates to all full-time employees becoming members and in some cases long-time part-time employees
  • Work performed by the cooperative differs from work that could have been done by an individual.
  • Internal Policy is ratified by consensus rather than top-down decision making.
  • Autonomy from any third parties, both public and private.
Modern examples of this include Left Bank Books in Seattle and Equal Exchange in West Bridgewater, MA.
  • Producers Cooperative
These are usually producers who themselves work generally in a top-down production model but as autonomous entities unite for a common purpose. This is can be thought of as similar to a franchise, with the "parent company" being ran democratically and without profit by the franchisees. Modern example of this arrangement include Ace hardware stores and Lake O'lakes.
  • Cooperative Federation
This is a cooperative of cooperatives. This is generally done to provide for policy/benefit sharing, or collective advertising/bargaining (this use sometimes makes them similar to the buying clubs mentioned above.) Examples of this include NoBAWC in San Francisco and the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives.

External References

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