The purpose of this paper is to consider the historical basis of development of corporate social responsibility and the impact of this on co‐operative enterprises and member‐owned businesses.
This is a viewpoint identified by years of experience dealing with co‐operative organisations.
The paper finds that the basis of development of corporate social responsibility from the perspective of commercial corporations does not promote an adequate accounting framework for co‐operative enterprises and member‐owned businesses.
Practitioners in different areas of business are trying to make sense of sustainability accounting and reporting in a commercial setting. This piece by one of these, draws on a topical initiative around co‐operative enterprises to raise questions around what is meant by performance in the context of member‐owned enterprises and whether the field of corporate social responsibility has overlooked the relevance of ownership in terms of organisational incentives for action.
The author proposes a series of definitions for co‐operative performance, which are designed to underpin metrics that relate to “member value”. This is offered in contrast to “shareholder value” for companies that, unlike co‐operatives, are owned by external shareholders.
The field of corporate social responsibility is a major user and innovator of the tools and techniques for sustainability accounting and reporting. But it tends to be silent on ownership. However, if different models of ownership create different incentives for action on sustainable development, then rather than just accounting for “how” an enterprise operates, however it is owned and led, there may be value in tools to test “whether” an institution is fit for purpose in its fundamental design.
The paper develops a new perspective and future research opportunities in identifying performance measures for co‐operative enterprises.
Mayo, E. (2011), "Co‐operative performance", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 158-164. https://doi.org/10.1108/20408021111162182
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