Various writers over the past century have analyzed and observed the application of cooperative principles. Although slight differences in terminology appear on the various lists, three principles emerge as being widely recognized and practiced.
These principles are more than just good practices, policies or common sense. They distinguish a cooperative from other kinds of business. They are also recognized in state and federal statutes and regulations as criteria for a business to qualify as a cooperative.
The above cooperative principles were adapted from Frederickson, Donald, 1997, Cooperative Information Report, USDA, www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/pub/cir55/cir55rpt.htm.
Certain business practices have developed that implement and facilitate these basic principles. They further differentiate a cooperative from other forms of doing business.