Chances of Co-operatives in the Future

This document has been made available in electronic format
     by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA
                     January 1996

       Chances of Co-operatives in the Future

by Hans-H. Munkner : Contribution to the International Co-operative
Alliance Centennial 1895-1995. Papers and Reports no. 31, Institute for
Co-operation in Developing Countries, Philipps-Universitšt, Marburg, 258pp.

The volume contains 14 papers dealing with co-operative values, principles
and practices and deviations from the original co-operative concept. Most
of these papers were written in English during the past several years, and
published in various journals or seminar reports, some were translated from
German. They were put together in one volume as a contribution to the
discussions about the future of co-operatives in the next century during
and after the ICA in Manchester 1995.

Co-operatives as a specific form of organisation only have a future, if
they rediscover their membership base and their dependence on members. This
means that co-operatives have to return to their original role, which is
still on demand today : to develop innovative approaches to solving
pressing problems in times of rapid social, economic and technological
change, where neither the market nor the state offer satisfactory
solutions. Many citizens including present and future members of
co-operatives are confronted today with new problems (globalisation of
markets, unaffordable prices for health care and social security, long-term
unemployement and deterioration of the environment) which they are unable
to solve alone, for which, however, solutions can be found when
co-operating with others having similar problems.

Co-operative leaders and managers have to stand up to this new challenge.
It is not sufficient to improve the level of perfection of the services
they have been offering for many years and  which today are offered by
competitors as well. They have to develop new services and products in
dialogue with their members, which correspond to their members' needs and
which are not offered by others at all or not in the same quality.

Alina Pawlowska