Cooperatives in Rural Community Development: A New Framework for Analysis

Although cooperatives are viewed as an important vehicle for community development, the relationship between cooperatives and communities is a neglected research issue. Because of this neglect, no framework for analysis of the relationship between cooperatives and communities exists. We present case studies of non-agricultural cooperatives in rural areas that provide some general insights into the innovative activities of successful cooperatives in rural community development. The case studies help define a new framework for analyzing the complete impact and efforts of cooperatives as community development agents. In contrast to the typical unifunctional and multifunctional categorization of cooperatives, our framework identifies two main categories of cooperative community development activities: unintentional, by simply organizing a business as a cooperative, and intentional, by creating community development programs. Cooperatives in this latter group are further sub-divided according to how closely the development activity is related to their core function.

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