In a world of rising inequality in which the spoils of capitalism are widely considered to be divided unfairly, co-operatives are making a comeback.
This resurgence will be examined at a three-day conference to be held in Newcastle from Thursday.
The University of Newcastle will host the conference - which focuses on the co-operative business model - at its New Space campus.
Scholars from across the Asia-Pacific will attend.
Co-operatives are people-centred enterprises owned, controlled and run by and for their members, with the aim of meeting common economic, social and cultural aims.
The International Co-Operative Alliance, which will co-host the conference, says co-operatives "bring people together in a democratic and equal way".
Co-operatives are businesses driven by values, not just profit.
Dr Sidsel Grimstad, a co-chair of the conference, said the ride-sharing company Uber - which has been criticised for exploiting workers - was an example of an area in which co-operatives could make a difference.
"Worker co-ops are emerging as an alternative to Uber, where driver wages are being squeezed," said Dr Grimstad, who convenes a co-operative course for the university.
"Uber is a digital platform. Once you've developed software like this, there's nothing stopping drivers from forming co-ops and distributing the wealth back to the drivers in a fair and equitable way."
Co-operatives, then, are an alternate model to traditional forms of capitalism.
However, they have operated successfully within capitalist economies for decades.
"We call it the middle way," Dr Grimstad said.
"It's a different model where the focus is concern for community and members."
Members own co-ops, not shareholders or investors.
She said co-ops were similar to other member-owned organisations such as mutuals.
"In the Hunter, we have big mutuals like Newcastle Permanent, Greater Bank and The Mutual Bank.
"The member-owned financial institutions - the mutuals - came out unscathed in the banking royal commission. Their member-focus has helped them in this regard."
While people are generally keen to work for themselves and good causes, international research shows that the corporate model can be prone to making workers feel exploited, anxious and depressed. Many workers live with insecure jobs in this system.
The co-operative model can offer solutions to this.
Dr Grimstad said it was important to understand that co-ops were "not a charity or non-profit".
"They are a business. They need to be sustainable."