Second report looks at the governance of the world’s largest co-operative businesses

22 Feb 2018

A new report published by Co-operatives UK, the network for Britain’s thousands of co-operative businesses, examines governance in the world’s largest co-operatives, including insurance firms, retailers, or manufacturers.

In its second edition, the report by Professor Johnston Birchall of Stirling University focuses on 60 of the largest co-operatives based on rankings in the annual World Co-operative Monitor. These include Zen-Noh from Japan, Fonterra from New Zealand, Migros from Switzerland, Mondragon from Spain, Unimed from Brazil, Credit Agricole from France, Rabobank from the Netherlands, Desjardins from Canada and State Farm from the USA.

The report presents some practical considerations for the design and redesign of good governance in co-operatives. It also argues that the most important quality of co-operative governance is being member-centred. However, the research notes there are risks related to a more participative model of ownership and that redesigning governance structures can have important consequences for a co-op.

Professor Birchall also provides an expanded theory of co-operative governance, along with tips on how to design highly representative, highly expert and balanced governance systems.

“As my analysis shows, co-ops are able combine the expertise needed to run a multi-billion pound business with mechanisms for their members’ – employees, customers and suppliers – control over strategic decisions and a share of the profits,” he added.

Read the full report here: