Despite popular misconceptions, cooperatives present a very successful organizational form worldwide. A recent study found that in the U.S., for example, 134 agricultural cooperatives celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2014. This observation on cooperative longevity is not matched by a corresponding research effort on what makes cooperatives so successful. Most of the extant research seems to focus on intra-cooperative problems that posit significant challenges to cooperatives. This special issue of Sustainability bridges the considerable gap between scholarly work and reality. By focusing on what makes cooperatives so successful for such a long period of time, this issue sheds light on key aspects of cooperative longevity. Bridging social capital, fundamental solutions to excessive heterogeneity-induced high ownership costs, tinkering, cooperative genius, and superior capacity to adapt to shocks and changes are among the factors identified to explain extended cooperative longevity. The insights thereby gained are useful to students of cooperatives, practitioners, and policy makers.
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