What makes rural co-operatives resilient in developing countries?

Johnson, Hazel; Borda-Rodriguez, Alexander; Shaw, Linda and Vicari, Sara (2016). What makes rural co-operatives resilient in developing countries? Journal of International Development, 28(1) pp. 89–111.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jid.3125


It has been argued that current interest in co-operatives is because they can reduce poverty and are resilient organisations. However histories of co-operatives’ successes and failures suggests that co-operative organisational resilience needs better understanding. This article reviews the literature, particularly with respect to sub-Saharan Africa. It argues that co-operative organisational resilience centres on co-operatives’ multi-dimensionality and the development of collective capability in five mutually reinforcing areas of activity. These are: membership, networks, collective skills in governance, innovation, and engagement with governments. Together, they strengthen co-operatives’ resilience but, where lacking, they undermine it. The article adds to thinking about ‘co-operative advantage’.

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