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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Danish Creamery Co-ops in the Late Nineteenth Century

The role of technology and institutions for growth

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February 26, 2024
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[Editor's note: This is a somewhat academic, but relatively approachable study looking at the history of Danish creamery cooperatives and attempting to discern how much of their success was due to new technological developments, and how much was due to their cooperativism (the tl;dr on that question is that the cooperative structure made a big difference both in terms of quantity and quality of milk and butter produced, easily outcompeting non-cooperative creameries using the same technology). Apart from general interest, the history of these cooperatives may be instructive for those interested in how new technologies can be successfully leveraged by co-ops, and what type of situations might make that outcome more or less likely. There is also an interesting connection to US dairy co-ops here, as Danish migrants brought the cooperative model with them to places like Wisconsin. And one final note: readers can safely skip section 2, which doesn't relate to either creameries or co-ops.

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Historical sign detailing the history of the first Wisconsin dairy cooperative.


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