This 200 page study has been published in 2011 by the International Labour Office Cooperative Programme (ILO COOP/ EMP) as well as the Cooperative Facility for Africa (COOPAFRICA) and COPAC. It analyses the set up and the economic, social and employment benefits of entrepreneurs’ cooperatives, the reasons why their use has not spread more evenly in the World and what could be done to promote this type of enterprise cluster. Beyond an extensive internet search for examples, empirical as well as theoretical research work is accessed extensively. About 33 examples, dozens of carefully selected, short citations, several tables and figures illustrate the study, which begins with a brief examination of the general possibilities for entrepreneurs to cooperate in clusters and an intriguing search for a definition of the subject examined.
In chapter one the author outlines why a definition for entrepreneurs’ cooperatives seems not easily arrived at. In search for a working definition the author in chapter two explores similarities and differences of a cooperative enterprise cluster to non-cooperative type business clusters by looking at membership, benefits and activities and ownership and governance related characteristics of enterprise consortia. She arrives at a positive outline of the specifics which characterize a cooperative in distinction from other legal forms.
In the third chapter the benefits of entrepreneurs’ cooperatives are briefly demonstrated by example of the European Retail sector before the state of empirical and theoretical research is outlined in the first section. In the second section of chapter three the study concentrates on the underlying internet research on 69 enterpreneurs’ cooperatives. This section shows exemplary – about a dozen cases are cited – in which ways the various economic and social benefits of this kind of cooperative are arrived at.
While chapter four deals with what is known about the employment effects of entrepreneurs’ cooperatives, chapter five outlines the operational potential and problems of this type of enterprise cluster. Again, this chapter is based both, on the available empirical evidence and theoretical perspectives about what the ensuing calculus means for the sustainability of such cooperatives, for their organizational development and management but also for possible development goals such as poverty reduction.
The question how entrepreneur cooperatives could be fostered or even promoted is the focus of chapter 6.
Lessons learned from international experiences culminate in chapter 7 titled “Legal and policy framework for good practice”.