One for all and all for one? A new generation of co-operatives emerges

Jeffrey P. Katz, Michael A. Boland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

A new generation of co-operatives is sweeping through several industries. The traditional co-operative ownership structure, which has existed for more than 100 years and has been commonplace in sector such as agribusiness and insurance, can be been found wanting in its ability to respond to external environmental pressures. These vehicles of collective action can be hindered by the interests of their owner/members and by a cumbersome decision-making process. Emerging instead is a hybrid of the traditional co-operative and the typical investor-owned firm. This new generation is combining aspects of each type of organisation to form a body that is neither open to everyone interested on joining nor based on the one-person one-vote principle. In addition, many newly-formed co-operatives do not limit their organisation to a purpose or line of business. This article examines why such an evolution is taking place and what extent the hybridisation process is likely to reach. The more entrepreneurial approach that the new generation of co-operatives provides is ullustrated in the case study of US Premium Beef, an organisation with a value-added competitive strategy. The authors also argue that there are managerial implications of these emerging organisations: the pace of their formation is likely to continue, as it is essentially a response to turbulent external factors. The article also predicts that future co-operatives will be and more nimble than their predecessors and will pursue new strategic directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-89
Number of pages17
JournalLong Range Planning
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2002

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