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Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

CC Cooperatives

How traditional production cooperatives innovate in rural places

The study investigates how production cooperatives with a Sharing Economy Business Model foster innovations in structurally weak rural places.

Richard Lang, Professor and Director at the Competence Centre for Management of Cooperatives, has published a new article in R&D Management, together with Matthias Fink, Daniela Maresch, Ralph Richter and Georgios Chatzichristos.

The article provides an in-depth analysis of cooperative production in the agriculture and food sector with a focus on sharing of physical equipment and production knowledge with low reliance on technology. Thus, it complements and enriches the current debate on sharing economy business models that has mainly focused on collaborative consumption and digital platforms.

In particular, the study highlights sharing practices along the production value chain, involving different types of actors from within and beyond the local community. This type of collaborative production holds the potential for novel resource combinations necessary to advance product and service innovations. At the same time, mobilizing and reconfiguring shared resources across stakeholder groups unleashes tensions between different strategic orientations. The cooperative form allows ambidexterity in the interaction between members and stakeholders, which is significant for developing innovations. Thus, the presented in-depth case study helps articulate the link between the sharing economy and innovation literature in a more multifaceted way than reducing it merely to the social mission in the collaborative consumption sphere.

The presented perspective holds further untapped analytical potential for a better understanding of innovation in sharing economy business activities in more traditional sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing.

You can access the article via this link: