Some Theoretical and Practical Implications of the Attempted Takeover of a Consumer Cooperative Society
Posted: 4 Oct 2000
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: Suggested Citation