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Unique Cooperative Impacts
Cooperative ownership can be viewed as "bottom-up" response to market
imperfections, providing people the access to goods or services that they
Cooperatives have been organized to provide organic and local foods to consumers,
counteract imbalances in market power between farmers and wholesale
distributors, deliver utility services to rural households, provide basic
banking services to consumers, or address problems of access in insurance
As member-owned and controlled organizations, cooperatives have a broader
ownership base that inherently provides a greater degree of local economic
control and stability in a community. Cooperative net margins or
profits return to the community, because they are proportionately
distributed to patrons, not investors, on the basis of their patronage.
There are other benefits that have been associated with cooperatives.
As democratically-controlled organizations that operate to meet a common
need, cooperatives may provide skills or reinforce the participation
in other civic activities.
The first phase of the Research
on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives project examined the scope of
cooperative business activity. While this is a useful starting point for
assessing the role of cooperatives in the U.S. economy, it does not address the unique contributions of
the cooperative form of business organization.
In an effort to identify ways that the "deeper impacts" of cooperative
economic activity might be quantified, a series of competitively sourced
discussion papers from the academic community
was produced to generate ideas on how these impacts might be quantified.
Role of Cooperatives in Community Development
UWCC Bulletin, September 2002.
Generating Progress: The Impact of New
Generation Cooperatives on their Communities
USDA Research Report 177, June 2001.
Measuring the Economic Impact of
Cooperatives: Results from Wisconsin
USDA Research Report 196, August 2003.
Measuring the Impact of Cooperatives in Minnesota
USDA Research Report 200, December 2003.
Healthy Communities: Measuring the Social and Economic Impact of Food Co-ops
National Cooperative Grocers Association
NCERA-194 Research on Cooperatives -