Cooperatives > definition

A cooperative is a special form of community ownership used by some 1920s housing estates for their construction and management. Similar to a joint-stock company, a cooperative issues shares to its members who become co-owners of the property. This way, the members share in the costs of new construction, maintenance and administration. In return, they receive preferential rights to apartments owned by the cooperative, and ones that are in the process of being planned or built. Today, two of Berlin’s World Heritage housing estates are still owned by the registered housing cooperative Berliner Bau und Wohnungsgenossenschaft von 1892 eG. Apart from purely cooperative administrations, however, there were also mixed forms such as cooperative banks that invested in housing associations, as was the case when GEHAG was founded. Apart from the building industry, the cooperative model exists in other business areas to jointly manage savings and operations. Some commercial, trading, manufacturing and agricultural enterprises are often fully owned by members of a cooperative. Smaller cooperatives tend to be self-governing, but larger ones tend to elect professional managers.