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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fishing for Success: A review of best practices and benefits offered by cooperatives


While there has been much research on cooperatives, research focused on the benefits and services that cooperatives provide their members, and how those benefits help strengthen cooperative success, has been sparse. This research aimed to address this gap and identify common types of benefits and services utilized by cooperatives around the world. Findings were generated to inform members of a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP+) within the Belize spiny lobster fishery. Using a mix of informal interviews and a literature review of cooperative benefits, a pattern finding analysis was conducted. It was found that benefits fell into three main categories: social, economic, and environmental. A total of 32 benefit categories were identified and described. The categories showed varying levels of complexity. Many benefits occurred across sectors, while other benefits appeared to be more common within one or two sectors. The analysis also highlighted the importance of certain enabling conditions as necessary steps to implementing a robust and successful benefits program. Cooperatives are a uniquely positioned business model to address a rapidly changing environment. The variety of benefits found in this research highlight the creativity and adaptability of cooperatives around the world. Future research on cooperative benefits could be an important step in increasing adaptability, but also resiliency in the face of a changing world.

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