Governance: Performance and roles

A co-operative is driven by its members which are the people who own and control it and in order to do so, adopt various roles in order for it to operate successfully.  

This section will explore the duties and responsibilities of these various roles and guide those carrying out these roles to do so effectively.


  • Role of the board – briefing document outlining the role of a co-operative board: pdf document [36kb]
  • Sample Co-operative Secretary Role Profile: pdf document [108kb]


Like any other business, co-operatives operate in a complex commercial setting and in order for them to trade successfully, co-operatives should have a compliance strategy in place that keeps pace with new  and existing legislation, member and other stakeholder expectations. This section will enable co-operatives to understand how comply with governance and regulatory requirements such as various co-operative codes of good governance, and specific legislation such as the UK Bribery Act.


The amount and scale of to which co-operative must report on their business activities does vary depending on the size, scale and business sector in which the co-operative operates.  However, in order for co-operatives to comply with relevant legislation and remain accountable to their members and wider stakeholders, it is important that any corporate reporting is timely, transparent and precise.  This section will enable co-operative to understand their basic reporting requirements through annual reporting as well as touch on different and new methods of reporting as and when they are developed.

Roles and duties

The people involved in steering the governance of the co-operative are required to take on different roles and wear different hats.  It is important that the people who take on these roles are fully informed about their duties and responsibilities in order to carry them out effectively. This section will enable co-operatives to support and develop people who take on these roles, recognise when improvements may be required and take action when necessary to ensure that the appropriate people are carrying out their roles effectively.

Delegation and limitations

As a co-operative grows and changes, it is impossible for the Board to discharge its duties effectively if it does not delegate some tasks to other stakeholders and groups who can be focused on achieving particular outcomes.  It is important that the Board is aware of what and how tasks can be delegated and establish clear reporting lines so that it can remain accountable.  This section will enable co-operatives to understand the limitations on the Board's powers of delegation to help to establish clear lines of delegation.

Stakeholder management

Co-operatives are driven by the members who own and control it and so any Board must remain accountable to that membership with the ultimate aim of acting in the members' collective best interests.  To do this effectively, a co-operative's Board must manage relationships with a range of internal and external stakeholders and this section will enable co-operatives to equip the Board with correct tools, resources to do so.

Also in this section

The key elements of governance • The purpose of a co-operative • An effective board • Operations and processes • Members and participation

Governance training

We have a number of one-day training courses, including for co-op chairs, directors and secretaries. There is also the option for in-house training – find out more.

The Co-operative Governance Expert Reference Panel 

The Co-operative Governance Expert Reference Panel was established and co-ordinated by Co-operatives UK in response to a need for an independent and authoritative voice in the co-op sector for best practice in governance. It will continue to contribute best practice and resources to The Hive for for free as and when they become available. Read more about the Panel...

Updated: 26/03/2019