An Introduction to Cooperation and Mutualism by Michael Boland

An Introduction to Cooperation and Mutualism

This textbook introduces readers to the idea of cooperation and mutualism. Cooperatives and mutuals are participatory organizations in which members participate in control and governance, receive economic benefits through patronage refunds or net income, and become owners through equity. These mutual-benefit organizations exist alongside non-profit organizations and investor-benefit organizations through the global economy.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Cooperatives and Mutuals are Firms

  • The success of a firm lies in its ability to have clear property rights.
  • Who owns a firm?
  • Corporate governance
  • Cooperatives are an example of a closely-held firm
  • References

Chapter Two: Cooperatives and mutuals are participatory organizations

  • Cooperative principles and policies
  • Participation in benefits
  • Participation in ownership
  • Participation in control.
  • Principles of cooperation
  • Formation of cooperatives
  • Reference

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About the Contributors


Michael Boland (Mike) holds the Koller endowed Professorship in agribusiness management and information technology at the University of Minnesota. In addition, he is director of the University of Minnesota Food Industry Center which is funded by General Mills, Kellogg’s, Land O’Lakes, Old Dutch, and other food companies. He teaches classes in cooperatives (in law school and agricultural school) and farm management. Mike was elected to the board of directors for the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and sits on the board of the Council on Food, Agriculture, and Resource Economics (C-FARE) in Washington DC.

In addition, he has worked with agribusinesses and cooperatives in Latin America, China, South Africa, Australia, and Europe. Mike lectures at Zamorano University in Honduras and is a Speaker for the U.S. Department of State on global trade, food security, and free trade agreement issues. He is a member of Harvard’s Private and Public, Scientific, Academic, and Consumer Food Policy Group. Mike’s Ph.D. in agricultural economics is from Purdue University where he worked on programs in the Center for Food and Agricultural Business. He is the oldest of 12 children and was reared in Minnesota.