Cooperative Membership and Strategizing in a Korean Consumer Cooperative Network: The Case of iCOOP

Membership is the foundation of cooperative identity distinguishing member-owned businesses from investor-owned businesses. While previous studies have largely focused on members’ motives and the structures designed to encourage their participation in democratic control and economic contributions, our research explores how consumer cooperatives build and manage networks with diverse interests and how the membership plays in this process. A strategizing perspective sheds light on what organizations do and how members engage in the strategy development and implementation process. Cooperatives use strategic texts to represent their identity and persuade their legitimacy. The authors adopt critical discourse analysis to analyze the discourses within the iCOOP consumer cooperative’s network. The cooperative’s network changes based on its predispositions, which draw on its history and experiences to overcome immediate impediments. Membership facilitates greater engagement among cooperative stakeholders, who utilize strategic discourse to influence other members. This self-referential and self-clarifying discursive practice strengthens the cooperative’s identity and fosters innovation. This study thus contributes to cooperative research by providing insights into the importance of membership and practice.

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Sumi Cho, Seungkwon Jang (2023). Cooperative Membership and Strategizing in a Korean Consumer Cooperative Network: The Case of iCOOP, Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, 12(2): 93-115. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5947/jeod.2023.012