Cooperative Enterprise

Cooperative Enterprise

Facing the Challenge of Globalization

Stefano Zamagni and Vera Zamagni

This eloquent book analyses the theory of the cooperative form of enterprise from an historic perspective, whilst assessing its appeal in the current economic environment.

Chapter 2: The Birth of Cooperative Enterprise: Where, When, How

Stefano Zamagni and Vera Zamagni

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology


2.1 WHERE COOPERATIVES AROSE The birth of cooperative enterprise coincided with the advent of the industrial revolution, but the sense of solidarity and concern for the poor antedated it by centuries. Medieval cities, beginning in Italy, developed an inclusive institutional structure in which the representatives of the productive strata (merchants and craftsmen) formed both organizations that administered their interests in a cooperative fashion (guilds and merchants’ chambers) and organizations that looked after those who for one reason or another were not part of the productive classes or who were in temporary distress: hospitals, orphanages, convent schools, pawn banks, dowry funds, public lending institutions, poor laws. All this was coordinated within a network of market relations that harmonized social life within the city, not excluding any of its members a priori, and carried out trade externally, thus increasing the overall prosperity. The productive enterprise in its modern version was then in its infancy; its typical form was the family run craftsman’s shop. Only the great merchant companies, with their large size and, very early on, their organization by equity shares, foreshadowed the characteristics that firms would take on later. With the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century, the ‘capitalist’ form of enterprise, the public limited company, became solidly established. The holders of equity capital entered into contracts with all the other factors of production, paying them the minimum possible for their services and distributing the entire gain as remuneration of the capital advanced. At this point the forms of social solidarity...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information