The Comparative Advantages of Single and Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives: Reflections for a Research Agenda

14 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2019

See all articles by Silvia Sacchetti

Silvia Sacchetti

University of Trento; European Research Institute on Cooperative & Social Enterprises (EURICSE)

Johnston Birchall

School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Stirling

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Multi-stakeholding is a way to share, or democratise, decision-making power among stakeholders within organisations. Analysis, however, has not fully considered the role of this form of private governance. This paper builds on the observation of past and recent governance experiences in cooperative firms, where sharing decision-making power was associated with single stakeholdership. Though single stakeholdership seemed to be the preferred solution so far, recently multi-stakeholder governance has become more prominent also in cooperatives. In light of this evidence, this paper has three aims. The first is to set out some of the theoretical arguments for and against multi-stakeholder governance, to look at examples of multi-stakeholder models in practice, and to generate from this a set of research questions. A useful distinction to assess how multi-stakeholdership can be applied in practice is between ownership and strategic control. We then use this distinction to present examples taken from the experiences of Eroski (the big Iberian retailer), iCoop (the Korean cooperative that brings together farmers and consumers), and Italian social cooperatives, which place the desirability of multi-stakeholding as one of their constitutional features. Our conclusions emphasise the necessity of improving this field of enquiry by outlining a research agenda on multi-stakeholder cooperatives.

Keywords: Cooperative governance, Organisational design

JEL Classification: D23, P13, L20, L31

Suggested Citation

Sacchetti, Silvia and Birchall, Johnston, The Comparative Advantages of Single and Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives: Reflections for a Research Agenda (2018). Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2018, pp. 87-100, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3349197

Silvia Sacchetti (Contact Author)

University of Trento ( email )

Via Giuseppe Verdi 26
Trento, Trento 38152
Italy

European Research Institute on Cooperative & Social Enterprises (EURICSE)

Via S. Giovanni 36
38122 Trento (TN)
Italy

Johnston Birchall

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

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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