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The research project “the Membership and the Federation” started in 2002 with support from the Co-operative Union and Wholesale Society's research foundation (KFs forskningsstiftelse) . A central idea behind the project is that a better understanding of actor's ideas about the membership is necessary in order to a better understanding of organization and management in membership-based organizations.

The membership project started out from the conception that the membership is a relationship between the individual and the organization. As a result of that the project have from the beginning been standing on two pillars; the individual member's perception of the membership and leaders's perception of the membership.

Both qualitative and quantitative methods have been used in the project. The study of leader's perception of the membership consists of about 30 in-depth interviews with leaders in nine large Swedish CSOs. The study of individuals' perception of the membership was conducted through a mail survey reaching 8.000 members in eigth Swedish CSOs. Interviews have also been conducted with members and leaders at all levels in the Swedish sports movement.