Democratic Member Control: The Difference that Democratic Ownership Makes in Co-operative Businesses

| Community, Education |

What gives the co-operative model an advantage over other business structures? Perhaps no quality is more distinct than democratic member control.  

Unlike other business structures in which major decisions are made by a powerful few, co-operatives take a democratic approach to business. In a co-operative, the members collectively own the business and make decisions together.  

When you become a member of a co-operative, you also become an owner. By doing so, members contribute to a shared pool of capital that the co-operative can use to access essential resources that will allow them to address their shared needs. These essential assets are commonly owned by the members.  

Board members are elected from the general membership to take the lead on strategic decision-making on behalf of the co-operative. The board decides what needs to happen for the co-operative to serve the needs of its members and deliver services to the community. For example, many co-operatives will hire management and employees to carry out the operational work of the co-op’s business.