Solidarity cooperatives were given legal recognition in Quebec in 1997. By 2012, 579 solidarity cooperatives were registered with the then Ministère du développement économique, de l'innovation et de l'exportation. Drawing from the decade-long history of this cooperative model and three case studies, this article gathers qualitative and quantitative data in order to identify symptomatic practices woven into the organization’s culture and operations, diagnose best and worst practices and propose corrective strategies. Borrowing insight from the realms of cooperative management, strategy and identity development, governance, and stakeholder relations provides the comparative theoretical support to confirm or invalidate assumptions provided in data gathering and analysis. This article has two objectives. First, it aims to identify the concrete opportunities and limitations of governance and strategy development in a multi-stakeholder (solidarity) cooperative. Second, it aims to outline a series of best management practices which could help improve the internal structure of this type of cooperative in order to improve governance, stakeholder collaboration, cooperative identity and business efficiency.
Multi-stakeholder Membership Structures and Strategic Development: the Case of Food-sector Cooperatives in Quebec