Eli’s post on internet co-ops referring to Wayne’s post about broadband infrastructure got my mind whirring about other examples of cooperatives — housing co-ops are a prime example. So are farm cooperatives and producer cooperatives. For example, Land O’Lakes, Ocean Spray, Welch’s and Sunkist operate as producer cooperatives.
Although they’re not called cooperatives, the major bank card systems — MasterCard and Visa — are member-owned associations. Through those systems, member banks jointly developed the infrastructure — the “networks” — that supports bank card transactions for the thousands of banks that issue credit cards. Some problems, however, do arise when companies work together to build successful networks such as the bank card systems. Competitors cry “foul” and ask the Justice Department to intervene — antitrust rears its ugly head.