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The Saga of the Co-operative Movement in Papua New Guinea

Mugambwa, J.T. (2005) The Saga of the Co-operative Movement in Papua New Guinea. Journal of South Pacific Law, 9 (1).

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The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) defines a cooperative as ‘an autonomous association of persons united to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise’. The cooperative movement has a fairly long and chequered history in Papua New Guinea (PNG). It thrived during the Colonial period, but declined to oblivion post-independence. Indeed, but for recent developments one would be tempted to leave the study of cooperatives in PNG to historians. The most important of these developments include the creation in 2000 of the Office of Cooperative Societies Unit, within the Department of Trade and Industry, with a mandate to revitalise the cooperative sector; and, in 2003, the promulgation of a new set of Cooperative Regulations. In addition, official rhetoric suggests that the Government is beginning to give priority or at least some impetus to revitalising the cooperative movement in PNG.

This article explores the ups and downs of the cooperative movement in Papua New Guinea. It discusses the reasons for the failure of the movement and for the current attempt by the PNG Government to revive the cooperative form of business organisation. The question is whether the cooperative movement with thrive to, or even beyond, it’s pre-Independence heyday.

Before we focus on the co-operatives movement in PNG, for the benefit of readers who are unfamiliar with the cooperative form of business organisation, we shall start with a brief discussion of the main features of co-operative societies, and how co-operatives differ from other business organisations.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
Publisher: University of the South Pacific School of Law
Copyright: University of the South Pacific School of Law
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