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Four times a year, as many as a thousand clients of each local branch of Rabobank, a leading Dutch institution and one of the world’s 25 largest banks, assemble to discuss business. They are not typical shareholders who have convened to hear speeches and garner information about profits. They are citizens from the local municipality — lawyers, accountants, contractors, shopkeepers, schoolteachers — with equal voting power in the governance system of that branch and a keen interest in the daily workings of the bank. As members of their local Rabobank cooperative, they collectively affect local decision making. And because each local Rabobank board takes part in decision making at the central bank’s governance council, they have influence at the highest organizational level as well.

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