Platform cooperatives and poverty eradication: Building on the legacy of Johnston Birchall




Mannan, Morshed
Pek, Simon
Scholz, Trebor

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity


Johnston Birchall made tremendous contributions to research on cooperatives, including the contributions cooperatives can make to tackling poverty. His work on this subject was largely carried out at a time when the Millennium Development Goals were the touchstone for global efforts to address the needs of the world’s poorest people. Since then, not only has the global economy been affected by digitalization, financial crises, climate change, and pandemics, the discourse on poverty has also changed due to the promulgation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. An example of this is the connection between digital inequality and poverty. Our objective in this essay is to distill the key contributions of Birchall’s work on cooperatives and poverty, position them within the evolving context of multi-dimensional global poverty and the platform economy, and chart a path forward for future research that can continue their development. We first identify Birchall’s four key takeaways from his research on cooperatives and poverty reduction. We then introduce the distinguishing features of corporate platforms and summarise prior research on the link between the platform economy and poverty. We then turn to the core part of our essay, which focuses on tracing the rise of platform cooperatives and assessing whether the four takeaways fit cooperatives operating in the context of the platform economy. We identify points of convergence, and areas for further refinement and future research. We hope that this will encourage research on the potential contribution that platform cooperatives can have in addressing poverty and other societal challenges.



Platform cooperatives, Cooperative governance, Poverty, Digital inequality


Mannan, M., Pek, S., & Scholz, T. (2023). Platform cooperatives and poverty eradication: Building on the legacy of Johnston Birchall. Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, 12(2), 33-55.