What roles do SME members have in cooperatives?

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What makes the cooperative business model unique is the various roles members have. We interviewed executives and members of four large Australian cooperatives to determine what these roles were. Our results show differences in terminologies and a conflation of member roles relating to patronage, ownership, investment, and community membership. We introduced the “Four Hats” (4Hs) framework suggested by Mamouni Limnios et al. (2018), which describes the distinct roles of patron, investor, owner, and community member. All interviewees responded positively to these roles. By isolating these specific roles, potential strategies to activate these roles can be developed to improve participation. Executives rated in order of importance, the patron, owner, community member and investor roles. Members rated in order of importance, the owner, investor, patron and community member roles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100172
JournalJournal of Co-operative Organization and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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