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 17: The social value of multi-stakeholder cooperatives: the case of the CEFF system in Italy

Silvia Sacchetti and Ermanno C. Tortia


The scope of this chapter is to provide an illustration of how social co-operatives can consistently pursue their social mission whilst retaining economic sustainability. We rely on case study analysis of an Italian social co-operative. Since 1991 social co-operatives have been conceived in the Italian legislation as mutual-benefit entrepreneurial organisations with a social character. The social objective was nested into the mutualistic structure, while the multi-stakeholder governance and the accumulation of socialized assets made the social co-operative similar to more traditional non-profit forms. Our study was conducted at CEFF (Educational Co-operative for the Faenza Families), an organisation that comprises two social co-operatives located in Faenza, (Emilia-Romagna, Italy), offering both employability services and labour integration for the disadvantaged. CEFF is a suitable case to contribute to an understanding of the emergence, sustainability and resilience of the co-operative business model. First, we offer an analysis of the structure and development of governance at CEFF, as an illustration of the emergence of a multi-stakeholder co-operative. Second, by analysing its evolution over time, we aim at shedding new light on the social nature of cooperation within a market economy, and on the ways in which co-operatives can generate and distribute social value across an integrated (horizontal) value chain by means of networking.

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