Abstract and Keywords
Co-operative banks have become an important part of the national banking systems in Europe since their creation as member-based organizations in the middle of the nineteenth century. They act together with their central institution(s) within a federal structure. Today, as a result of the crisis of financial markets, European regulation tends to prefer the type of a banking corporation. Co-operative banks, Volksbanks as well as Raiffeisenbanks, and their federal structure seem to be put under pressure to transform and to merge. As a result the number of banks (institutional diversity) and the diversity of banks’ legal forms decreases. This chapter recalls various phases of the history of the development of co-operative banks in Germany, concentrates on the switch from member-based to customer-oriented banks, and analyses strategies to reactivate a meaningful membership and to reposition these banks as responsible institutions for local and social problems.
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