Coops: can they compete with big business?

I’ll be contributing a series of articles for the Guardian over coming weeks around the theme ‘can cooperatives compete?’.  The first of the series has just appeared on their website (here).

I deliberately pose a couple of provocative questions at the start of the first piece: “If cooperatives are such a good idea, why isn’t the world full of cooperatively run businesses? Why are the commanding heights of the global economy predominantly in the hands of investor-owned companies – and not run by coops operating for the benefit of their members?”

Are there structural reasons why coops can’t hack it? Are there perhaps legal, or financial, or organisational reasons which may be holding coops back?  Or is it (as you’ll see Chuck Gould of the ICA is suggesting) that coops are actually playing a different game from plcs – and that direct comparison is therefore both invidious and irrelevant?

You’ll have to wait for the remaining five pieces in the series to appear (they’ll be put up by the Guardian on a weekly basis).  But you’re welcome to respond straightaway, either here or on the Guardian’s website.


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