Many communities are seeking alternatives for providing essential products and services to their residents at affordable costs. The cooperative model has been used around the country to provide groceries, clothing, and pharmaceuticals as well as vital services such as health care, day care, and housing for the elderly. The cooperative model also allows businesses to increase their efficiency by sharing their common costs. Understanding the characteristics and factors that detennine a cooperative's success in the real world is an important potential tool for community development. Such knowledge enhances development practitioners' ability to use the cooperative model as a community development or business development tool. With such a goal in mind, this study examines the characteristics of a nationwide sample of non-agricultural cooperative businesses in a variety ofbusiness sectors (e.g., retail, service) and identifies factors that determine their success.
Sanjib Bhuyan, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; F. Larry Leistritz, Professor, Department ofAgribusiness and Applied Economics, North Dakota State University, Fargo, NO. Authors greatly benefitted from comments by the editor of this Journal and five anonymous revie~ers on an earlier version of this paper. Authors are responsible for any remaining errors. This report contributes to NDSU Experiment Station Project 1394 and NJAES Projects 02141 and 02263. Financial support from Rural Cooperative Business Services, U.S. Department ofAgriculture, and from the North Dakota and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Stations is gratefully acknowledged.