Open accesscreativecommonsPeer reviewed/Research article
Published: December 2022

Italian community co-operatives and their agency role in sustainable community development

Michele BianchiORCID

Vol 55 No 3, pp. 65-77

How to cite this article: Bianchi, M. (2022).Italian community co-operatives and their agency role in sustainable community development. Journal of Co-operative Studies, 55(3), 65-77.


Italian community co-operatives are the most recent evolution of the Italian co-operative movement. They operate to carry out community development processes, which involve the local population in the re-thinking of socio-economic models of local development. They also create business opportunities using local resources and assets with particular attention to cultural aspects, local environments, and people’s needs. Generally, these co-operatives expand the mutualistic benefits — typically shared among co-operative members — with other community members because of the common belonging to the same place. Therefore, community co-operatives develop “community economies” for the general interest. What is less known about this phenomenon is whether and how community co-operatives consider the sustainability of their missions and activities. Drawing on sustainable community development theory, this paper reports on a comparative study of 17 Italian community co-operatives based on semi-structured interviews with representatives. Findings show how members use the co-operatives as an agency to foster sustainable development in their communities.



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