Development and support of the cooperative sector in Alto Adige

Research Area: Local development
Scientific coordinator: Gianluca Salvatori

Project status: on-going

Cooperative initiatives that place the local community at the center of their mission and economic model are multiplying in Italy and elsewhere. Thanks to the recognition of the value of local resources (environmental, historical and cultural), community cooperatives are generating economies able to fuel a supply that improves social cohesion and encourages inclusion, particularly in disadvantaged areas. It is therefore necessary to seek to identify with greater precision the salient characteristics of the social and economic model of these enterprises through a new interpretation of some experiences at a local, national and international level.


The research project, commissioned by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, aims to carry out a qualitative and quantitative investigation into forms of “community cooperation”, including comparatively, and to inspire policies that would encourage the launch of community start-ups and the reconversion of existing enterprises, recognizing this phenomenon as a diversely accessible way of producing goods and services of collective interest, not just within certain sectorial and local niches.

Main results

The research allowed the identification of the main stages that mark the generative processes for community enterprises through the in-depth examination of case studies from around the country, and the collection of regulatory instruments and intervention programmes that aim to recognize and support the development of community enterprises, whether at a micro (municipality), meso (province, region) or macro (country) level. Lastly, a tool was developed for surveying community enterprises in order to recognize and bring to light a sector that is still mostly in the embryonic stage.

Future developments

Starting from the results obtained, a workshop on community cooperatives was designed, with the aim of looking more closely at the organizational forms and management methods of community cooperatives, tackling the main critical issues (governance, funding, sustainability, relationship with institutions, etc.). The intention is to produce a model for the management of local public services for the Alto Adige context, one that is based on existing experiences and new community entrepreneurship initiatives that can be identified and supported in their development process thanks to targeted policies.


Zandonai, F., with contributions from Luca Tricarico, Verso la cooperativa di comunità. Buone pratiche per un percorso di institution building, research report.

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