Member Value in Housing Co-operatives
4th CIRIEC International Research Conference on Social Economy University of Antwerp, 24-26 October 2013
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Housing co-ops are very important for the housing sector in Switzerland (about 5% of housing supply in Switzerland and almost 20% in Zurich). Nevertheless, although they enjoy a positive image and they are supported by the public authorities, they face several challenges in their daily business. One major challenge is dealing with the decreasing motivation of their members to assume responsibilities inside the co-op and to participate actively. However, a high level of member participation is crucial, because this is what turns a housing co-op into a civil society organization and what allows lower rents (cost-induced rents) and public funding. In the end, the members themselves, which are the owners as well as the tenants of the apartment, differentiate co-ops from profit-oriented landlords. Furthermore, only a living housing co-operative provides the benefits co-ops are known for. Therefore, it is essential for every co-op to make its values and benefits visible to its members in order to strengthen its commitment and bond. The present paper presents an interdisciplinary approach to identify the member value of housing co-ops and examine the best practices of their management.