IFI Faculty Member Richard Lang and IFI Fellow Isabella Hatak recently published their co-authored article “Trust, Social Capital, and the Coordination of Relationships Between the Members of Cooperatives: A Comparison Between Member-Focused Cooperatives and Third-Party-Focused Cooperatives” in the prestigious international non-profit journal Voluntas.
Their paper develops a fine-grained conceptual understanding of different organisational forms of cooperatives. Contrasting traditional member-focused cooperatives, the authors introduce the term third-party-focused cooperatives for social enterprises which emphasise economic goals as well as control and ownership by a particular community (typically place-based). The key result of the paper is that with the shift from member- to community-focus in cooperatives, the main coordination mechanism becomes one of norm-based trust on the basis of generalized reciprocity. The findings suggest that the shift in cooperative organisational identities requires a mutual re-positioning between the cooperative and the non-profit sector, in terms of umbrellas as well as regulatory and legislative bodies.