Co-operative models

This section gives an overview of the different 'models' available for co-operative businesses and organisations.

As we have learnt, co-operatives all conform to a set of guiding values and principles, one of which is that they are owned and democratically controlled by their members.

Those members can fall into a whole different range of stakeholder groups. They can be customers, workers, suppliers, tenants, producers local residents, users of services or a combination of any or all of these stakeholders. The type of member is often used to distinguish between the different types of co-operative model.

Common co-operative models

Consumer co-operative

Owned and controlled by some or all of its customers.  Members are involved in the co-operative by buying from it. In the largest consumer co-operatives in the UK, members can be involved at many levels in the democratic process.

Worker co‑operative

Owned and controlled by those who work in the enterprise. Members are traditionally paid employees, but can also include unpaid volunteers and self-employed.

Housing co‑operative

Owned and controlled by  its tenants. Housing co-operatives often have all their tenants as members and are known as “fully mutual”.

Co‑operative Consortium

A co-operative owned and controlled by those who use the services of the co-operative. That service might be joint marketing in a producer or marketing co-operative; collective purchasing or even sharing a collaborative workspace. The members of co-operative consortia are often other enterprises.

Multi-stakeholder Co‑operative

Owned and controlled by two or more stakeholder group. For a example a community farm co-operative may have the farmers and the local community as members.

Secondary Co‑operative

Similar to the consortium model above, the members of a secondary co-operative are other co-operatives. Co-operatives UK is a secondary co-operative.

Credit Union

A form of financial co-operative owned and controlled by those who use the saving and lending services of the co-operative.
Updated: 14/02/2017