Co-operative (Co-op)

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A form of business organization.  Though generally a creature of state law, some federal laws apply to some co-ops as well.  Co-ops differ from corporations and other business organizations both in their essentially democratic nature and in that their focus is not primarily to fulfill the fiduciary needs of shareholders but to meet some common need of members.  There are exceptions to this general rule. Co-operatives are found in a variety of areas of a nation’s economy including but not limited to (1) consumer co-ops operating businesses as diverse as food stores, bookstores, and hardware stores, (2) rural utility co-ops, (3) credit unions, (4) housing co-ops, (5) agricultural co-ops for the supply, marketing, and manufacture of agricultural products, and (6) worker co-ops.