Co-operation as Coordination Mechanism: consequences on the interpretation of the cooperative enterprise

EURICSE International workshop
4 dicembre 2017
5 dicembre 2017
4-5 December, 2017

Venue: Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento

The economics of cooperative enterprises, both traditional and new forms, such as social cooperatives, needs deep revision and refinement following the evolution of economic theory over the last decades.
Traditional approaches are still often based on incoherent or inadequate premises and did not give a convincing view of co-operation as co-ordination mechanism and as organizational form.
The critical review of the economic theory is in line with institutionalism and with new approaches and methodologies, which spread over the last decades, especially evolutionary and behavioral economics.

A new approach would aim at creating a new framework of analysis, at overcoming unsolved problems and unanswered questions, and at offering new guidance to empirical and experimental research.
The final aim of the workshop is to create a new integrated framework in which cooperation is understood as a unifying concept, more specifically as one of the most relevant coordination mechanisms of the economic activity, and as foundation of the working of cooperative enterprises. It is also understood as relevant, albeit partial and concurrent, coordination mechanism in the working of investor owned and publicly owned enterprises.

One fundamental seminal contribution is found in Elinor Ostrom approach to the governance of common pool natural resources. In our work, an initial attempt to pin down such themes and develop a new coherent framework was carried out in the paper “Co-operation as coordination mechanism. A new approach to the economics of cooperative enterprises” (Borzaga and Tortia, 2017).

Participant in the EURICSE workshop in Trento will present papers dealing with one among the following main themes:

  • The nature and sustainability of co-operation as coordination mechanism of the economic activity, as compared with the two dominant coordination mechanisms, i.e. market exchange and hierarchy;
  • In what way co-operation as coordination mechanism can help (or halt) explaining co-operative enterprises as specific and non-conventional organizational forms, and what is the role left for market and hierarchy in this organizational form;
  • How these theoretical premises help explaining specific forms of co-operative enterprises (supply side such as worker and producer co-operatives, demand side such as consumer and credit co-operatives, mixed and multistakeholder such as social co-operatives etc…) and some institutional features of co-operatives (locked assets, capitalization, governance, productivity, management etc.).

Due to limited room available, non-speakers desiring to attend the workshop should contact the organizers (Ermanno Tortia and Carlo Borzaga) in advance.


Monday December 4th
10.00 - 10.30  Introduction and salutation
10.30 - 12.30 
  • Carlo Borzaga and Ermanno Tortia.
    Co-Operation as Co-Ordination Mechanism. A new approach to the economics of co-operative enterprises
    Discussants: Michele Grillo, Michael L. Cook
  • Simon Cornée
    Governing Common-Property Assets: The Case of Farm Machinery Co-operatives
    Discussant: Ivana Catturani
  • Johnston Birchall
    Co-Operation as Co-Ordination Mechanism and Co-operative Governance
    Discussant: Marco Faillo
12.30 - 14.00  Lunch 
14.00 - 16.00 
  • Michael L. Cook
    The Design Principles: Ultimate and proximate causations in food and agriculture
    Discussant: Simon Cornée
  • Giacomo Degli Antoni
    Propensity to Co-operate of Social Co-operatives' Workers and Volunteers: evidence from a field research
    Discussant: Spencer Thompson
  • Murray Fulton
    The Elements of Co-operation
    Discussants: Giacomo Degli Antoni and Benedetto Gui
16.00 - 16.30  Coffee break 
16.30 - 18.00 
  • Carlo Borzaga, Silvia Sacchetti and Ermanno Tortia
    The Institutions of Livelihood and Social Enterprise Systems
    Discussants: Lorenzo Sacconi
  • Silvio Goglio and Ivana Catturani
    Local Public Goods and Cooperation: How the local context might impact on their supply
    Discussant: Samira Nuhanovic
20.00  Dinner
Tuesday December 5th
9.00 - 11.00 
  • Anna Grandori and Santi Furnari
    The Role of Democratic Governance in Different Types of organization
    Discussants: Giovanni Ferri and Benedetto Gui
  • Spencer Thompson
    Towards a Social theory of the firm: Worker cooperatives reconsidered
    Discussant: Vladislav Valentinov
  • Pier Angelo Mori
    Community Co-operation: Beyond government, market and traditional mutuality
    Discussant: Murray Fulton
11.00 - 11.30 Coffee break 
11.30 - 13.00 
  • Lorenzo Sacconi and Ermanno Tortia
    The Formation of Co-operative Governance. A psychological game theory approach
    Discussant: Pier Angelo Mori
  • Marina Albanese
    Social and Relational Variables in Cooperative Firms. Implications in terms of efficiency, job saving and social capital
    Discussant: Johnston Birchall
13.00 - 14.00  Lunch 
14.00 - 15.30 
  • Giovanni Ferri
    On the Implications of Upper-Level Networks for the
    Structure of Lower-Level Cooperatives

    Discussant: Michele Grillo
  • Federico Perali
    The Role of the Social Co-operative in the Process of Social Innovation
    Discussant: Silvia Sacchetti
15.30 - 16.00  Final roundtable and discussion on the perspective or future research 


  • Carlo Borzaga, University of Trento and EURICSE 
    carlo.borzaga [at]
  • Ermanno C. Tortia, University of Trento and EURICSE 
    ermanno.tortia [at]

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