Agricultural Cooperatives in the Netherlands: Key Success Factors

Jos Bijman


The paper argues that the ongoing success of agricultural cooperatives in the Netherlands can be explained by the combination of five factors. First, the Netherlands has an enabling cooperative legislation. Second, cooperatives in the Netherlands have been able to maintain effective member control through innovations in internal governance. Third, membership heterogeneity has been kept low, despite growth and internationalization of agricultural cooperatives. Fourth, Dutch cooperatives have been pragmatic in establishing and dismantling federative cooperative structures. Fifth, cooperatives have chosen explicit strategies as to their position in the food chain. This paper is based on a review of academic and professional literature. The insights from the experiences of Dutch agricultural cooperatives may inspire cooperative leaders in other countries and sectors to seek similar enabling conditions and pursue similar strategies.

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