Cooperatives are firms with the same structure and property rights as corporations or other types of firms. It is necessary to understand why firms exist to understand why cooperatives exist and why they are a special case of a corporation. Because the organizational structure of a cooperative is different with regards to the two property rights of control and residual claimant on earnings, it is important to understand these concepts. The
survival of the cooperative depends upon its ability to achieve an economic purpose. Thus, it is crucial to understand how ownership and management of the firm are important aspects of corporate governance. The next chapter discusses why cooperatives have a formal governance structure just like other organizations, and describe the origins of that structure.