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 7: To be or not to be a co-operative? The case of Australia's grain co-operatives CBH and ABB Grain

Tim Mazzarol, Elena Mamouni Limnios and Richard Simmons


This chapter examines the parallel histories of two of Australia's largest bulk grains handling co-operatives, Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) and the South Australian Co-operative Bulk Handling (SACBH), later named AusBulk and then ABB Grain Ltd. Both co-operatives provide an insight into the forces that shape a co-operative enterprise and provide lessons for why such businesses form and why they survive or disappear. The case demonstrates how co-operative enterprises respond to pressures from government regulation, external market competition and the internal forces of management and member desires for investment returns or continuing patronage. The chapter is organised into the following sections. It draws upon the conceptual framework of the co-operative enterprise business model outlined in Chapter 2 (see Figure 2.1) and Cook's (1995) 'co-operative life cycle theory'. First there is an overview of the two case study firms and the methodology used in the research. Then a brief history of the development of the Australian bulk grains industry is provided, followed by a historical examination of each co-operative through each of the five stages of the 'life cycle' framework. The chapter then examines the histories of the two co-operatives against the 'systems', 'enterprise' and 'member' level units of analysis outlined in the conceptual framework.

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