The potential of co-operatives during the current recession; theorizing comparative advantage

Issues: Volume 2, Issue 1
Authors: Johnston Birchall

This paper asks how effective are co-operatives at surviving economic recession, and whether they can grow at the expense of investor-owned businesses and provide an alternative business model that is fairer, more stable and less risky. The paper begins by providing historical evidence concerning the resilience of co-operatives during economic crises. Then, taking a ‘member-owned business’ approach, it analyses the comparative advantages and disadvantages of co-ops along three dimensions: ownership, control and benefit. It broadens this out to consider advantages to the wider society, and theorises comparative advantages of other business types. It concludes by asking what it would take for the co-operative potential to be realized.

Keywords: comparative advantage; co-operative business model; resilience during recession
JEL classification: D23; L21; M21; P13
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5947/jeod.2013.001
About authors: Johnston Birchall    Download .PDF