Effects of tourism-related cooperatives on community development in Appalachia

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Virginia Tech

Rising poverty rates, increases in joblessness, and the depletion of traditional means of livelihood (such as agriculture and large industry), are all forces working to diminish the ability for the rural Appalachian to make a living (Appalachian Regional Commission, 1993). Many rural development professionals interested in cultivating new options are including the concept of the cooperative as a tool for economic development. However, there is some controversy over whether the cooperative form of organization is an optimal method of economic development for rural America. The same had been said about tourism as a contributor to economic development. This thesis uses case study analysis to examine three current cooperatives and their contributions to the community, using a Weberian lens of formal versus substantive rationality. Results indicated a tentative relationship between amount and type of contributions of the tourism-related cooperative organization and type of rationality for its existence.