From an economic point of view, the new identity statement by International Cooperative Identity does not provide a sufficient basis on which the substance of the cooperation entailed to be grasped. There is a huge need to carry out research on the basis of an alternative 'cooperative identity' concept, so that the substance and possible development of cooperative systems can be examined. The most important parts of the 'identity' are the cooperative definition, the basic aims (purposes) of cooperatives, the functions (roles) and the cooperative principles. Analysing Dutch agricultural co-operation according to the concept mentioned, it has to be said that the 'principle of principles' (the product is central) and the basic aim (to increase members' income) remain valid. However, to be able to perform new (marketing, financing, organizational) strategies it is necessary to change the functions of co-operatives. It would be important and useful to carry out research on the co-operative identity according (at least) to each country and to different branches and sectors of the economy in order to get the substance of co-operation.