Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Applied Communication Research 29:3 (August 2001), pp. 248–277.

doi: 10.1080/00909880128111


Copyright © 2001 National Communication Association; published by Taylor and Francis/Routledge.


This project provides an interpretation of how one cooperative support organization, the Nebraska Cooperative Council, discursively functions to help its constituent cooperatives consolidate resources in order to better intersect with organizations in a larger bureaucratic system. In analyzing qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews, surveys, and organizational documents, we found the paradox of stability and change a revealing prism through which to make sense of participants’ experiences. We work toward locating and describing how the Council, through its boundary-spanning activities, helps cooperatives manage the paradox of stability and change while protecting their core participatory ideologies. By providing networks of learning, promoting the legitimacy of cooperative forms of organizing, and protecting cooperatives’ interests, the Council is an entity helping cooperatives to reconcile their internal requirements for democracy with the external demands of the marketplace.