Cooperative banks: Relevance, role, potential and problems

Research Area: Economic theory
Scientific coordinator: Silvio Goglio

Project status: on-going

The current financial crisis has opened up new scenarios for the cooperative banking system – a system which on the one hand has intensified its support for businesses, while on the other has run up against the limits of its governance model.

This research project on cooperative banks intends to analyse these aspects in both an international and Italian context, investigating the sector’s trends and the conditions of its sustainability, in light also of recent developments to the European regulations (Basel III, banking unification, etc.). Additionally, the analysis will explore the impact of cooperative banking on economic development at a local level.


The project’s main aim is to identify the strengths and limits of cooperative banks, and the necessary or recommended interventions that can consolidate their strengths and find solutions for their limits.

A first line of research, linked to local development, analyses the different models for cooperative banking. A theoretical analysis will be supported by an empirical investigation through both the analysis of data from the Italian cooperative banking system at a national and macro-regional level, and through comparison between different national cooperative banking models, taking into consideration their evolution, their performance and the role played in the development of the areas where they operate.

A second line, dedicated to governance, delves further into the agency relationships between the various stakeholders involved in the management of the bank for the various organizational models. In this case too, as well as a theoretical study, the aim is collect data for the production of an empirical analysis.

Main results

The project will continue with the work that has been carried out since 2009, focusing on the role of cooperative finance for sustainable development. In particular, the areas of analytic focus are: critical aspects of governance of Cooperative Banks and the consequences of governance reforms; the role of Cooperative Banks for the financial support of enterprises during the period 2007-2011; and the impact of the economic crisis on the Italian cooperative banking sector at macro-regional level.

The research group participated in many international events to present and disseminate the results of the research activities and organized special sessions dedicated to cooperative banking at various conferences and seminars on credit issues.

The working group continued to further reinforce its already-consolidated international partnerships through the organization of the annual international workshop on “Cooperative banking and sustainable development”, now in its fifth edition, intended to serve as a permanent discussion forum for the leading scholars in the sector, and through the biennial publication of the most important contributions.


Alexopoulos, Y. Goglio, S., (2009), “Financial Deregulation and Economic Distress: is there a Future for Financial Cooperatives?”, Euricse Working Paper  001|09.

Alexopoulos, Y, Goglio, S., (2011), “Financial Cooperatives: Problems and Challenges in the Post-Crisis Era” in Journal of Rural Cooperation, v. vol. 39, n. n. 1  p. 34-47.

Goglio, S., (2012), Banche di credito cooperativo e sviluppo locale, Roma: Ecra.

Goglio, S., Alexopoulos, Y., (a cura di), (2012), Financial cooperatives and local development, Routledge.

Goglio, S., Leonardi, A.,  (2012),  “The Motivations of Economic Behavior: the Case of Cooperative Credit”, Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity JEOD, 1(1): 65-84.

Abate G. T., Borzaga C. and Getnet K. (2013), “Financial sustainability and outreach of microfinance institutions in Ethiopia: does organizational form matter?”, Euricse Working Paper 56|13. Disponibile online su SSRN al link:

Borzaga C., Catturani I. (2013), “Il legame tra le cooperative di credito e le imprese italiane”, in Secondo Rapporto Euricse sulla cooperazione in Italia: La cooperazione italiana negli anni della crisi, Edizioni Euricse.

Catturani I., Stefani M.L. (2013), “Il credito cooperativo” in: gli aspetti occupazionali” in Secondo Rapporto Euricse sulla cooperazione in Italia: La cooperazione italiana negli anni della crisi, Edizioni Euricse.

Goglio, S., Alexopoulos, Y., (2014), “Special Issue on Cooperative Banks”, Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity JEOD, 3(1).

Abate, G. T., Borzaga, C., Getnet, K., (2014) “Cost Efficiency and Outreach of Microfinance Institutions in Ethiopia: Do They Contrast with Financial Cooperatives?”, Euricse Working Paper 65 | 14.

Arnone M. (2014), “Il microcredito nel Mezzogiorno d’Italia: il contributo delle banche di credito cooperativo”, in Atti del Convegno “Regioni e Sistema Creditizio” organizzato dall’ISSIRFA-CNR, 2 dicembre, Roma.

Arnone M., Forgione F., “Le BCC e la crisi internazionale: un’analisi comparata per macro regioni”, Banche e Banchieri n. 2/2014.

Catturani I., Venkatachalam R., (2014), “Optimal Interest Rates in Cooperative Banks with Non-member Customers“, Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational DiversityLEOD, 3(1): 181-199.

Catturani, I., Borzaga, C., (2014), “Facts and Stereotypes about Cooperative Banks: To Whom Do CBs Actually Lend?“, Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity JEOD, 3(2): 7-3.

Goglio S., Alexopoulos Y. (2014) “Editorial: Cooperative Banks at a Turning Point?“, Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity JEOD, 3(1): 1-8.



University of Trento




Banca d’Italia, filiale di Trento

LUMSA University

Vaasa University