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Comparison of organizational forms: association, club, trade union, foundation and cooperative

Association, club, trade union, foundation and cooperative

Introduction

Different forms of organizations exist in different societies around the world, serving specific purposes and structured in different ways. This article deals with five important forms of organization from an international perspective: association, club, union, foundation and cooperative. We will explain each term, highlight the differences and provide practical application examples from different countries.

1st association

Definition of

An association or federation is an organization made up of members who pursue a common goal, often in a specific professional or interest area. Associations can operate at national or international level and offer their members services, support and representation.

Features

  • Representation of the interests of a particular group
  • Often industry-specific or topic-oriented
  • Can carry out lobbying work
  • Offers networking opportunities for members

Examples

  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
  • World Medical Association (WMA)
  • International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)

Practical application

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) represents the interests of companies worldwide. It develops international business standards, offers arbitration services and promotes open trade and investment.

 


2. association

Definition of

A club or society is an organization that is formed by an association of people to pursue a common purpose. Clubs are often non-profit organizations and cover a wide range of interests, such as sport, culture, charity or social purposes.

Features

  • Voluntary membership
  • Democratic structure with a board and general meeting
  • Often non-profit (but not necessarily)
  • Pursuit of idealistic goals

Examples

  • Rotary International
  • Sierra Club (USA)
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK)

Practical application

Rotary International is a worldwide association of business people and professionals who are committed to humanitarian service, ethical behavior and peace. They organize local and global projects, such as polio vaccination campaigns or educational initiatives.

 


3. trade union

Definition of

A trade union or labor union is an organization of employees who come together to represent their common interests with regard to working conditions, wages and other professional matters. Trade unions negotiate collectively with employers and can organize industrial action such as strikes.

Features

  • Representation of employee interests
  • Collective bargaining with employers
  • Legal advice and support for members
  • Possibility of industrial action

Examples

  • International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  • Unite (UK)
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Practical application

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) represents 200 million workers in 163 countries. It campaigns for global labor rights, coordinates international campaigns and supports trade unions in developing countries.

 


4th Foundation

Definition of

A foundation is an organization that permanently pursues a specific purpose by providing assets. Foundations can be charitable and focus on various areas such as education, science, art or social issues.

Features

  • Permanent purpose, determined by the founder
  • Assets as a basis
  • Often tax advantages
  • Can award grants or carry out own projects

Examples

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (USA)
  • Wellcome Trust (UK)
  • Volkswagen Foundation (Germany)

Practical application

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports projects worldwide in the areas of health, education and poverty reduction. For example, it funds vaccination campaigns in developing countries and research into neglected diseases.

 


5. cooperative

Definition of

A cooperative is an association of people who come together for the purpose of joint economic development. Cooperatives work democratically and their members benefit from the cooperative's services or products.

Features

  • Promotion of the economic interests of members
  • Democratic decision-making structures (one member, one vote)
  • Common ownership and control
  • Often in areas such as housing, agriculture or banking

Examples

  • Mondragón Corporation (Spain)
  • Fonterra (New Zealand)
  • Crédit Agricole (France)

Practical application

The Mondragón Corporation in Spain is a network of worker cooperatives operating in various sectors, from industry to retail. The employees are also owners and have a say in important company decisions.

 


Comparison and differences

  • Purpose:
    • Associations: Representation of the interests of a specific group
    • Associations: pursuit of common (often idealistic) goals
    • Trade unions: Representation of employee interests
    • Foundations: Permanent pursuit of a purpose defined by the founder
    • Cooperatives: Economic promotion of the members
  • Membership:
    • Associations and clubs: Voluntary membership
    • Trade unions: Voluntary membership of employees
    • Foundations: No members in the true sense of the word
    • Cooperatives: Membership through the acquisition of cooperative shares
  • Financing:
    • Associations and clubs: Mainly through membership fees
    • Trade unions: Through membership fees
    • Foundations: Through income from the foundation's assets
    • Cooperatives: Through business activities and membership fees
  • Decision-making structures:
    • Associations and clubs: Democratic with board and general meeting
    • Trade unions: Hierarchical with democratic elements
    • Foundations: Through the foundation board and board of trustees
    • Cooperatives: Strictly democratic (one member, one vote)
  • Legal basisThe legal basis varies from country to country, but the following generally applies:
    • Associations and clubs: mostly registered as non-profit organizations
    • Trade unions: Often special legal status with collective bargaining autonomy
    • Foundations: Foundation law, varies greatly between countries
    • Cooperatives: Cooperative law or company law

Conclusion

Each of these forms of organization has its own strengths and areas of application, which are used worldwide. Associations and trade unions are particularly effective in representing interests, while clubs cover a wide range of social activities. Foundations can pursue specific long-term and independent purposes, and cooperatives offer a democratic opportunity for joint economic activity.

The exact structure and legal classification of these organizational forms may vary from country to country, but the basic principles and functions are globally comparable. The choice of the right organizational form depends on the specific objective, the people involved and the respective national legal framework.

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Disclaimer: Please note that the above dates, tax rates and regulations may change over time. Do not make any independent decisions without first consulting an expert for your individual situation. It is in your interest to always receive individual information from an experienced expert who knows your situation. This information is for informational purposes only and does not promote illegal activities, including tax evasion.

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