The Design of Effective Democratic Governance Structures for Large Cooperatives

November 1, 2022

2015, By Birchall. Birchall argues that the larger the cooperative, the more likely that:

  1. Members are limited in their ownership rights and feel like they have less ownership of the cooperative – leading to less support and participation
  2. The operations of the cooperative are more complex
  3. There are free-riders
  4. The governors find it more difficult to control their managers
  5. The cooperative feels difficulty in focusing on the (diverse) needs of their (diverse) membership.

Therefore, Birchall recommends various steps and considerations – rooted in member involvement, representation, and trust in right expertise – to alleviate these concerns. From our research, we found that many cooperatives increased their membership – as non-members witness the benefits of cooperative membership, they sought membership – and so in response to the sudden increase in numbers, the ideas encapsulated by Birchall become more and more important.

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