Some Theoretical and Practical Implications of the Attempted Takeover of a Consumer Cooperative Society

Posted: 4 Oct 2000

See all articles by Johnston Birchall

Johnston Birchall

School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Stirling

Abstract

The article begins with some observations about the trend towards demutualization of mutual and co-operative businesses, and then presents a case study of one, rather dramatic, example: the attempted takeover of Europe's largest consumer co-operative, CWS. It draws on original research into the takeover bid to provide a summary of what happened and when, and then asks some important questions about whether consumer co-operatives are inherently less efficient than PLCs in the retail sector; whether they can make themselves safe from takeover; if they do survive, how they can justify their existence as member-owned businesses; and whether there are alternative forms such as worker or multi-stakeholder ownership that can achieve the broad aims of the co-operative sector more effectively. It concludes that if CWS and similar organizations are to survive they must integrate the two aspects of a co-operative - the business and the association - and take seriously the opportunities and responsibilities that being a member-owned organization implies.

JEL Classification: G30

Suggested Citation

Birchall, Johnston, Some Theoretical and Practical Implications of the Attempted Takeover of a Consumer Cooperative Society. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=232359

Johnston Birchall (Contact Author)

School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Stirling ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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