The aim of the International Study Group on Utility Cooperatives is to compare the state and development of cooperative solutions for the provision of public utilities across countries and/or sectors from different disciplinary backgrounds and through interdisciplinary work.
Public utility cooperatives have emerged in several countries across the world at different points in time for various reasons. Comparative studies help to understand the emergence, rise, fall and resurgence of public utility cooperatives and thereby contribute to cooperative theory in general.

The debate about the organizational form for the provision of utilities usually focuses on the dichotomy of public versus private and cooperatives constitute a “third way” for the provision of utilities, i.e. an alternative to private and public provision. The study group aims at complementing this debate by including and analyzing cooperatives as a “hybrid” institutional solution more thoroughly. Even though the definition of cooperatives varies across the world, some principles or elements apply everywhere. So, different kinds of organizational structures are taken into account in the research.


Lars Holstenkamp is research fellow at the Institute of Banking, Finance and Accounting at the University of Lüneburg, Germany.

Pier Angelo Mori is Professor of Economics at the University of Firenze, Italy, since 1995.

Jakob R. Müller is Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Science at the University of Erfurt.

Pekka Pietilä works as senior researcher at the Tampere University of Technology, Finland.

Bert Sadowski works as an Associate Professor of Economics of Innovation and Technological Change at the Department of Technology Management at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Irmi Seidl is Head of the Economics and Social Sciences Unit of the Swiss Federal Research Institute in Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Francesca Spinicci worked for the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises and the University of Florence on a project about consumer cooperatives in the utilities sector.

All persons doing research on utility cooperatives from all disciplines are welcome to join the group by sending an email to the convenors (see below). There is no membership fee.

Once or twice a year the study group meets for a workshop, linked to a coop conference or as a separate event. In between, the group exchanges ideas and research results electronically.
In a mid-term perspective, the group aims at applying for a joint research project