WP 99 | 17 Democratic Governance Mechanisms in Cooperative Banks: A Reassessment
The governance of cooperative banks is arguably so distinctive that it cannot be properly captured by standard economic models. One of the problems that arises in the assessment of the assumed democratic governance in such banks refers to the members’ commitment to the banks. This paper considers the fact that it is not always clear whether cooperative banks’ members have the proper incentives to actively participate in making decisions that relate to bank strategies and policies. To shed light on this problem, this paper provides an improved framework of governance based on some seminal concepts by Albert O. Hirschman (1970), such as voice, exit and loyalty. Given the challenges that cooperative banks are currently facing, the arguments discussed in this paper should help illuminate the kind of reforms that such banks are expected to pursue in the coming years. Their governance model needs to be updated in practice to retain its specific features; otherwise, it may end up mirroring that of standard for-profit banks.