This exploratory research from Como et al. proposes a new perspective on the relationship between cooperatives and the collaborative economy in Europe. While, so far, the platform cooperative debate has mainly focused on the need to democratize existing collaborative economy platforms, less attention has been be paid to the issue of how the collaborative economy could transform existing cooperative businesses.

Supported by interviews with leaders of the cooperative movement and evidence on how cooperatives on the ground are actually engaging with collaborative economy innovations, the study identifies a number of opportunities and challenges for the development of new collaborative practices within cooperatives.

Study highlights and key findings:

  • In 2016 there were 38 cases in Europe of cooperatives that were adapting collaborative economy principles to develop their own projects and businesses.
  • In terms of industrial sectors, the most touched by collaborative economy initiatives were mobility, energy, tourism, finance, and food.
  • 32% of cooperatives developed initiatives at the local level, 20% at the regional level, 24% aim to cover the national level, and 24% that aim at an international level.
  • Overall, numbers of people actually reached so far are quite low; in 40% of the initiatives fewer than 100 people participated, in 30% of cases the users have been between 100 and 1000, in 9% of the cases between 1000 and 5000, and in 9% of the cases over 5000 (reaching the peak of 100,000).