Solidarity as a Business Model: A Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives Manual

TitleSolidarity as a Business Model: A Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives Manual
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsLund, M
Corporate AuthorsOhio Employee Ownership Center,

Multi-stakeholder cooperatives (MSCs) are co-ops that formally allow for governance by representatives of two or more “stakeholder” groups within the same organization, including consumers, producers, workers, volunteers or general community supporters. Rather than being organized around a single class of members the way that most cooperatives are, multi-stakeholder cooperatives enjoy a heterogeneous membership base. The common mission that is the central organizing principle of a multi-stakeholder cooperative is also often more broad than the kind of mission statement needed to capture the interests of only a single stakeholder group, and will generally reflect the interdependence of interests of the multiple partners.

Multi-stakeholder cooperatives are the fastest growing type of co-op in Quebec, which itself is home to one of the most productive and vibrant cooperative development sectors in the world. There is also evidence of the increased use of this model in many European countries and growing interest in this form of co-op in the United States as well. While it is only in the last 20 years that this model has had formal legal recognition in various national or regional laws, the idea of involving a broader community in a cooperative venture is of course much older than that. Italy was the first country to adopt a multi-stakeholder statute in 1991 after two decades of experimentation on a local level.

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