The characteristic features of co-operative form of organisation are as follows: 1. Voluntary Association 2. Democratic Set-Up 3. Service Motive 4. No Exploitation 5. Concept of Equality 6. Each for Every One 7. Spirit of Self-Help 8. Wider-Interests of Community Looked after 9. No Place for Middlemen 10. Disposal of Surplus.
Feature # 1. Voluntary Association:
It is a voluntary association. There can be no use of force in it. It is open to the people to join it or not. The members who join the organisation can withdraw at any time, as and when they like.
Feature # 2. Democratic Set-Up:
Co-operative organisation is basically a democratic organisation, in which all decisions are taken on democratic lines and principles. No decision can be forced on any member.
Feature # 3. Service Motive:
In all forms of organisations, the primary motive is to increase profits. The co-operative form of organisation is a democratic set-up run by its members to meet social and economic needs of people with a minimum marginal profit but maximum service to the members on the one hand and the community on the other.
Feature # 4. No Exploitation:
Usually the objective of the business is to exploit others and to earn maximum profit. The people invest money in the hope of getting maximum returns. But the situation is quite different in the case of co-operation. In this form of organisation people invest money and start some work but not with a view to exploiting others, but making each shareholder in profits and pulling up and lifting the others.
Feature # 5. Concept of Equality:
Another important characteristic of co-operative organisation is that all the members are treated as equal. There is no question of high or low and there is no weight-age either on the basis of caste, creed, education, sex or property. No matter what numbers of shares are held by a person, everyone is given only one vote.
Feature # 6. Each for Every One:
Basic philosophy and principle of Co-operative organisation is that no one is for himself alone but that all are for each other. Each one is supposed to support and work for the other, keeping the interests of others in consideration.
Feature # 7. Spirit of Self-Help:
Another important characteristic of this form of organisation is that all the members have reliance on self-help. Each member feels elevated when he works for himself and accomplishes the task allotted to him without any help from any outside agency.
Feature # 8. Wider-Interests of Community Looked after:
Co-operative organisation is formed with the objective of meeting common needs of the members but no society can confine its activities to its members alone. It will have to look after the interests of the community as a whole, though in all respects the members of the society get some preference over others.
Feature # 9. No Place for Middlemen:
Then another characteristic of co-operative organisation is that it eliminates middlemen who keep some profit with themselves by taking undue advantage of the needs of producers and consumers. It is a system in which everything is done by the society, leaving scope for middlemen to work.
Feature # 10. Disposal of Surplus:
The co-operative societies earn surplus. This surplus is not distributed according to capital contributions. It is distributed according to the purchases made by the members in case of consumer co-operatives, and according to the goods delivered to the society for sale in case of producers co-operatives.
The Co-operative Societies Act has given guidelines for the distribution of surplus. Law, however, requires that at least one-fourth of the surplus should be kept as reserve in the society and upto 10 percent of the surplus should be spent for welfare of the members.