Unique Expectations of Co-operative Boards: Taking on the Challenges of the Democratic Enterprise
Co-operative enterprises continue to evolve and adapt in synch with various political crises seen across the globe. Take for example the banking crisis of 2008. Financial co-operatives were seen as a viable antidote to the excesses of the investor-owned financial institutions. But the economic crisis was so deep that it revealed a number of governance challenges embedded in robust co- operative sectors in Spain and the U.K. Using the lens of the institutional logics perspective, we address the common and unique expectations of co-operative vs. investor owned corporate boards of directors. Building on prior governance literature, we discuss tensions created between various perspectives and identify and succinctly describe three common expectations including teaming, vigilance and strategic behaviors. Then, we take a deeper look at the unique co-operative expectation of being advocates for democracy and the challenges this poses including being played for suckers, tyranny of the majority (and minority), democratic despotism and pragmatism. We close with an exploration of co- operative democracy in practice and highlight resulting questions of interest to researchers and practitioners.