Co-operative Principles and Values: Does the talk match the walk?

Shahid Ghauri, Tim Mazzarol, Geoff Soutar

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Co-operatives are defined around a set of principles and values. If these are misunderstood, ignored or dismissed, the co-operative risks departing from its purpose and resembles or demutualises into an investor-owned firm. Adherence to co-operative principles and values can strengthen active members’ participation or diminish this if they are ignored. In some jurisdictions, a co-operative’s failure to adhere to these principles may place the entity at odds with co-operative law. Members and executive managers from four large Australian co-operatives were asked about their understanding of and adherence to co-operative principles and values. While the executive managers were aware of the
seven co-operative principles, only one understood the six values. Members’ awareness of principles and values was much less. Only five of the seven principles appeared to be actively followed and alternative values were used when identifying organisational values. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Pages (from-to)7-22
JournalJournal of Co-operative Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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