In this report, we argue that cooperatives are enterprises for the common good, in contrast to investor-owned businesses which trade for private benefit. We support this conclusion by looking at the law under which cooperatives are registered; at cooperative heritage including the Rochdale principles and the ICA principles; and at the way a number of progressive societies are identifying themselves.

We then briefly explore some of the implications, both external to the cooperative movement and internal.

• It helps to establish clear water between cooperatives and businesses trading for private benefit, at a time when a popular understanding of the real differences is so important.
• It becomes logical to seek formal public recognition in the UK of the value of cooperatives. Such recognition would itself then provide justification for the strategic encouragement and promotion of cooperatives, and their appropriate treatment in legislation.
• It provides a strong basis for exploring the cooperative ownership of privatised public services and the building of an alternative economy.

• It helps to provide a clear basis for exploring future developments in governance, especially of large societies.
• It is an important building block in the development of the argument for cooperative capital – something fundamentally different from investor capital.
• It further informs how societies are developing their reporting and accountability to members.

Further information

You can download a copy of this report here or by clicking on the red PDF icon on the right-hand side of the page. More information is available on our Social Business pages, or you can speak to David Alcock and Cliff Mills for further information.