Tools to Measure Co-operative Impact and Performance

In an increasingly performance-oriented society, metrics matter. What we measure
affects what we do. If we have the wrong metrics, we will strive for the wrong things.”
— Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi
Mismeasuring Our Lives

CO – O P E R A T I V E F I R M S are business enterprises exercising collective ownership, governance, and decision making. They are typically portrayed as businesses that combine a social mission with their economic goals, placing them in the category of enterprises operating in the social and solidarity economy.

Exemplifying collective rather than individual ownership, co-operatives are bottom-up organizations with the distinctive purpose of addressing member and community needs through mutual self-help. Many co-operatives claim to offer an alternative model of organization that prefigures a more humane and democratic system.

They emphasize member needs over profit, and seek financing from their members. Grounded in the values of self-help, solidarity, equality, equity, and openness, the seven co-operative principles provide a reference point for nearly one million co-operatives operating worldwide. Co-operatives are seen as a fundamentally different type of enterprise — in ownership, control, and purpose (Brown and Hicks 2013; Novkovic 008; Spear 2000).

While co-operatives world-wide increasingly recognize that the co-operative values and principles offer a framework for a “co-operative way” of doing business that may diversify the economy and disrupt hegemonic discourse, it is also evident that some co-operatives operationalize this framework more effectively than others.

This helpful guide can be found at coopsforsustainablecommunities1.pdf (

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