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Social Cooperatives: When Social Enterprises Meet the Cooperative Tradition

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  • Business & Economic Sciences :: Social Economics [B15]
  • Sciences économiques & De Gestion :: Economie Sociale [B15]
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Political Science


Microsoft Word - JD MN Social Coop 070312.doc 1 Social Cooperatives: When Social Enterprise meets the Cooperative Tradition Jacques Defourny 1 and Marthe Nyssens 2 Paper to be presented at the Euricse - ICA International Conference “Promoting the Understanding of Cooperatives for a Better World” Venice, March 15-16, 2012. First draft (Please do not quote) Introduction On the basis of the co-operative principles as adopted by the Equitable Pioneers of Rochdale and later by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), it is possible to argue that a great deal of cooperatives have always had a stronger orientation toward the general interest or the public good than most traditional private companies. Indeed, among the co-operative principles reformulated by the ACI in 1995 at its 100th anniversary, the 7 th and last one explicitly refers to the co-operatives’ commitment to contribute to a sustainable development of the whole community. More generally concerns for fairer economic relations and for promotion of economic democracy at large have always been parts of a true co-operative spirit. From a more pragmatic point of view, it can also be observed that many large cooperatives first focused on the interests of their members and later opened members’ advantages to all their customers or users with or without a symbolic purchase of member share. Moreover, it is not unusual to see co-operatives socializing a part of their profits through support provided to community-oriented projects although this may also be seen as a more common CSR policy. In any case, the border between co-operative members’ interests and a larger community interest is sometimes blurred. However, in spite of some explicit or implicit social contents in many co-operative behaviours , there is no doubt that a new type of co-operative appeared when launched by m

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