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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.


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.

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