Building up active membership in cooperatives
New Medit, vol 14, n.1, (March 2015), pp. 42-52
Jel classification: Q13
Active membership is crucial for agricultural cooperatives as it engenders better performance. It even is the key for cooperative competitiveness. Active membership, however, decreases in many cooperatives. Thus, it is important to know what galvanizes members to become active members. The cooperative’s value and the cooperative’s offers motivate some members to become active members, but certainly not all of them. Therefore, more work needs to be done to understand the social attributes that transform members into active members. In this paper the incentives that sustain members’ participation over time and the contribution of members’ active participation in the cooperative’s competitive advantage are studied. Empirical evidence is provided via a questionnaire completed by 241 cooperative members of a Dutch feed supply cooperative and interviews with cooperative experts. Results show that active membership builds on social attributes, such as cooperative culture, open communication, trust, involvement, and the willingness to be active. It is explained that these social attributes create benefits for both the cooperative and its members. Finally, suggestions are presented to stimulate active cooperative membership.
agricultural cooperatives, participation, social indicators