The Cooperative Value Proposition: Portrayal and Perception Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (M.S., Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology (Applied Economics)) -- University of Idaho, 2015 | Cooperatives are private businesses in which members are also the owners and the customers. Cooperatives have a significant role in the United States economy, especially in the agricultural sector. By operating in a cooperative, members reach a critical mass necessary to either tap markets or economies of scale or both. To this end, membership is vital to the effectiveness of the cooperative economic model; however, membership is declining. This study compares what agricultural cooperative employees, credit union employees, and consumer food cooperative employees think their members and potential members value. In addition, the study compares what agricultural producers (members and non-members) value from a cooperative, and what cooperatives think agricultural producers value. It can be concluded that agricultural cooperative employees know their members somewhat well but should understand their potential members more. Finally, a Logit model is developed to determine the likelihood of an agricultural producer being a member of an agricultural cooperative given the variables education, income from agriculture, past generation involvement with agricultural cooperatives, credit union membership, and knowledge of agricultural cooperatives. The model helps determine who the agricultural cooperative in the Northwest should target for membership growth. This study is a stepping stone to helping cooperatives focus on crafting the right messages that will not only retain members but gain new members.

publication date

  • June 1, 2015