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The Governance of cooperatives and mutual associations: a paradox perspective

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  • Chris Cornforth

Abstract

This paper presents a new theoretical framework for understanding the governance of co-operative and mutual organisations. The theoretical literature on the governance of co-operatives is relatively undeveloped in comparison with that on corporate governance. The paper briefly reviews some of the main theoretical perspectives on corporate governance and discusses how they can be usefully extended to throw light on the governance of co-operatives and mutuals. However, taken individually these different theories are rather one dimensional, only illuminating a particular aspect of the board's role. This has lead to calls for a new conceptual framework that can help integrate the insights of these different theories. The paper argues that a paradox perspective offers a promising way forward. Contrasting the different theoretical perspectives highlights some of the important paradoxes, ambiguities and tensions that boards face. Copyright CIRIEC, 2004.

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  • Chris Cornforth, 2004. "The Governance of cooperatives and mutual associations: a paradox perspective," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 75(1), pages 11-32, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:annpce:v:75:y:2004:i:1:p:11-32
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schmitz, Patrick W, 2001. "The Hold-up Problem and Incomplete Contracts: A Survey of Recent Topics in Contract Theory," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 1-17, January.
    2. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1998. "Cooperatives vs. outside ownership," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19360, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Bonin, John P & Jones, Derek C & Putterman, Louis, 1993. "Theoretical and Empirical Studies of Producer Cooperatives: Will Ever the Twain Meet?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1290-1320, September.
    4. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114.
    5. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1996. "The Governance of Exchanges: Members' Cooperatives versus Outside Ownership," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 53-69, Winter.
    6. Michael Kremer, 1997. "Why are Worker Cooperatives So Rare?," NBER Working Papers 6118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jonathan Levin, 2002. "A Theory of Partnerships," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000002, UCLA Department of Economics.
    8. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
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