This document has been made available in electronic format by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
The International Co-operative Movement  (1997)

June, 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.3, 1997)

The International Co-operative Movement
by Johnston Birchall

Co-operatives are a world-wide phenomenon. They come in many guises - agricultural, housing, consumer and worker co-ops, credit unions, co-operative insurance and banking, energy and health co-ops - and in many countries they take a major share of the market. Steering a middle course between investor and state-owned businesses, they have taken a leading role on rural development, urban regeneration, environmental sustainability and ethical trading.

This book provides a comprehensive guide to the sector, showing how each type of co-op grew out of responses to industrial and agricultural revolutions, and how they combined to form an international movement. It provides an overview of the history and current status of co-ops in every world region, with themes such as reconstruction in Eastern Europe, structural adjustment in Africa, the role of women, and the environment. It compares practice with principles, and concludes that, provided they can free themselves from state patronage, learn to compete in global markets and protect member democracy, co-ops can become the ethical business for the twenty first century.

This book should be read by students of development studies, business studies, social policy and community development, and by any one concerned with issues such as fair trading, social entrepreneurship, sustainability and the philosophy of stakeholding.

"The International Co-operative Movement", published by Manchester University Press, comprises over 85,000 words and 120 illustrations and is priced at CHF 40.00 plus postage which will be added to proforma invoice. The book will be launched in September 1997 to coincide with the 3rd ICA General Assembly.

To reserve your copies please send an e-mail to or a fax/letter to: (41-22)798 41 22, International Co-operative Alliance, Communications Department, 15 route des Morillons, 1218 Grand Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland, stating your name, organisation, address and fax number.

Please note that payment for publications can be made by Visa or Euro/Mastercard as well as by direct bank transfer to Banque Coop, Geneva, Account No.284043.450090-2.