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Overview of Corporate Governance Issues for Co-operatives - IFC

Overview of Corporate Governance Issues for Co-operatives - IFC

TABLE OF CONTENTS1.

TABLE OF CONTENTS1. Co-operative identity and corporate governance.................................................. 1A changing agenda................................................................................................ 1Defining corporate governance.............................................................................. 1Co-operative identity .............................................................................................. 22. A growing co-operative presence?......................................................................... 6Membership figures ............................................................................................... 7Signs of renewal .................................................................................................... 9Co-operatives and international development...................................................... 103. Corporate governance issues for co-operatives in the OECD countries. ......... 11Co-operative Financial Institutions....................................................................... 15Wider Stakeholders.............................................................................................. 164. Corporate governance issues for co-operatives in developing countries........ 17Africa.................................................................................................................... 19Asia...................................................................................................................... 25Latin America....................................................................................................... 28Cross-regional studies ......................................................................................... 29Financial co-operatives ........................................................................................ 295. Overall conclusions and recommendations ........................................................ 32A growing consensus?......................................................................................... 32Owning good governance? .................................................................................. 32Target groups and sectors ................................................................................... 33Knowledge sharing .............................................................................................. 34Gender equity ...................................................................................................... 34Bibliography ................................................................................................................ 35

1. Co-operative identity and corporate governanceA changing agendaGood governance is now accepted as vital to achieving the Millennium DevelopmentGoals and as a pre-condition for sustainable economic growth. Ensuring bettergovernance of corporations, financial institutions and markets is increasingly recognisedfor developing countries despite the limited number of firms there with widely tradedshares (Oman and Blume 2005). For developing countries, significant benefits can belinked to higher corporate governance standards in the private sector. These includebetter access to external finance, lower costs of capital and better firm performance(Claessens 2003).The corporate governance agenda has also been broadened by the recognition of thereach of corporate models characterised by different forms and structures to the Anglo-American model of an investor owned firm. However until now little attention has beenpaid to the governance needs of other institutional forms of business such asco-operatives despite their considerable presence in many developing countries. Theco-operative sector as a whole remains poorly understood and its specific governancechallenges remain as yet largely unexplored.This aim of this paper is to begin to remedy this absence. Taking as a starting point thedistinct nature of co-operatives, relevant trends and issues within corporate governanceare explored within the framework of the co-operative sector.Defining corporate governanceResearch into corporate governance in developing countries, especially comparativestudies, typically is based on a broad definition of corporate governance which includesthe relationships a company has with its wider stakeholders as well as its shareholders.According to Claessens, corporate governance would include:The relationship between shareholders, creditors, and corporations; betweenfinancial markets, institutions and corporations; and between employees andcorporations. Corporate governance would also encompass the issue ofcorporate social responsibility, including such as aspects as the dealings of thefirm with respect to culture and the environment” (Claessens 2003:5).The recent revision of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance reflects thisbroader agenda with a greater emphasis on the institutional and policy framework forcorporations. This paper utilises this broader definition of corporate governance as onethat is more relevant to the distinctive governance features of co-operatives.It is also important to note that developing countries face a set of challenges inimproving corporate governance standards which are unknown to many OECDPage 1

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