Research Handbook on Sustainable Co-operative Enterprise
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Research Handbook on Sustainable Co-operative Enterprise

Case Studies of Organisational Resilience in the Co-operative Business Model

Edited by Tim Mazzarol, Sophie Reboud, Elena Mamouni Limnios and Delwyn Clark

Co-operatives are found in all industry sectors and almost all countries around the world. However, despite their significant economic and social contributions, the academic literature has largely ignored these important businesses. This book is a detailed examination of the co-operative enterprise business model and the factors that help to enhance its sustainability and resilience, as well as those forces that lead to its destruction.
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Chapter 12: Recommendations for boards of directors of investor owned firms from the co-operative model

Isabelle Allemand, Bénédicte Brullebaut and Sophie Raimbault


Co-operatives are defined by the International Co-operative Alliance as 'an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise'. Under the name co-operative, very different organisations coexist: consumer co-operatives, worker co-operatives, producers' co-operatives, co-operative banks, etc. However, in spite of different contexts and businesses, co-operatives share the same principles. Their goal is triple: to defend their values; to ensure the sustainability of the organisation in a long term approach; and to ensure an equitable distribution of profits. Being a co-operative involves answering requirements such as implementing a democratic management and defining terms of membership, but also appointing a board of directors that will represent members and defend their interests in a simultaneously individual and collective perspective. Few studies exist on the specific components of the role of directors in co-operative organisations and none explores the best practices of cooperative boards that could provide lessons for other kinds of organisation. The board of directors is a key player in governance. The role of the board is to monitor management (Baysinger and Hoskisson 1990; Jensen and Zajac 2004) and to provide guidance for strategy and decision-making (Walsh and Seward 1990; Finkelstein and Hambrick 1996; Golden and Zajac 2001).

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