Cooperation Works! and Others (1996)

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         December, 1996
          (Source: Review of International Co-operation
                    Vol.89, No.4/1996, pp.59-65)

                           BOOK REVIEWS

Co-operation Works! 

by E. G. Nadeau and David J. Thompson, Co-operative Development
Services, Madison, WI, (608-258 4396) price $16.96

At last! A practical, easy-to-read book which explores the huge
potential of co-operatives in the '90s.

For years, researchers, undergraduates, instructors, public
policy analysts and co-op leaders have decried the lack of text
and quality analysis on co-operatives. Co-operation Works! will
help fill that void.

This is the book which many who share an expansive vision of what
co-operatives can be have been waiting for. By examining examples
of co-operatives in 50 real-life situations - ranging from
Bookpeople, an employee owned book publishing and distributing
organization which grew out of the California counter-culture of
the '60s to the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, a
value-added farmer co-operative - authors E.G. Nadeau and David
Thompson cast a spotlight on one of the most quiet, current
success stories in the American economy. 

In so doing, they may have made a significant contribution to
expanding the awareness of the versatility and value of co-
operatives in meeting modern day economic, social and community

Those who work in co-operatives have long known about their
effectiveness in meeting people's real needs. What has often
perplexed and frustrated many co-operators is why co-operative
successes aren't more widely known and utilized. The questions
are familiar:

Why don't American farmer schools teach courses in the
cooperative business form? Why don't state and federal
governments utilize the local ownership and proven democratic
control that co-operatives provide to address needs in housing,
child care and welfare?

Why aren't labour unions and consumer groups championing worker
and consumer co-operatives as practical ways to empower American
workers and combat ever increasing concentrations of corporate

Why don't Main Street small businesses take a page out of the
farmer co-ops book and utilize co-op models to expand their
buying and marketing power?

And, in a time of huge government deficits and budget cuts, why
don't more governmental units work together in co-ops to utilize
proven ways to reduce costs and improve coordination? Co-
operation Works! doesn't pretend that co-ops have the answer to
every societal problem. And, because of the broad-ranging scope
of this work, covering over 50 different co-operative examples,
the reader is often left wishing for more in-depth analysis. 

Yet few who read this fine new work will be disappointed. Even
the most experienced co-operator will find his/her co-operative
knowledge and understanding expanded.

For this reason, and because of its eminent readability, I would
urge co-operatives and co-op associations of all kinds to
strongly consider making Co-operation Works! a standard part of
their director and employee training and orientation programs.
How many times have you heard (or said) Our people just don't
understand the cooperative model. I wish I could open their eyes
to what co-operative really means. Because Co-operation Works!
uses great real-life examples and the words and voices of actual
people rather than the dry techno-speak and graphs of the
economist, employers, directors, students and elected officials
can readily relate to and appreciate its message. 

If this work gathers the interest and attention it deserves, it
may have a lasting impact. Co-operatives may no longer be such
a kept secret!

- Rod Nilsestuen

Report on  the Regional Seminar on Housing Co-ops, 
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 25-29, 1996

ICA ROAP, New Delhi, 1996, 213 pp, tabs.

The report gives a good overview of the status, prospects and
problems of housing co-operatives in Asia and Pacific region and
indicates the need and strategy for future development of co-
operative housing. The first part of the report provides the
recommendations and seminar proceedings. 

The second part covers background papers from India, Indonesia,
Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka. 

The third part finally presents profiles of organisations
attending the seminar and gives the full list of participants.

- Alina Pawlowska

International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance 
Federation Member Directory - 1996

ICMIF, Altrinham, 1996, 394pp.

For the second consecutive year the ICMIF has published its
membership directory. ICMIF full members now represent over 150
insurers belonging to 82 member organisations in 52 countries.
In addition to full members, ICMIF has 4 associate members that
are co-operative insurance agencies, and 5 observers that,
although involved with co-operative or mutual insurance, are not
risk-bearing entities.

The first pages of the directory present an overview of the
Federation's membership, the second part gives detailed
information on individual members. 

Each information sheet is divided into three distinct parts. The
first gives fairly standardised information on the management
structure, history, and areas of operations. The third gives
financial statements. But for many reasons, and this is a
particular merit of the authors of this Directory, the second
part called Strategic Issues is the most interesting. This
section describes the strategies that the company adopted in
order to promote business, the challenges - coming from inside
or outside - obstacles or innovations for the future. If for many
societies the competition from other actors on the market is the
first source of preoccupation, the policies involved enhance the
distinct co-operative identity.   

It would certainly be useful to add to this Directory a few
tables presenting at a glance the world's largest co-op insurance
companies, but no doubt this will be done in next edition. 

- Alina Pawlowska

Regional Consultation on `Co-operatives in a Changing  Socio'
Economic Environment' in the Asia-Pacific  Region.  2-6 December
1996, Yangon. Background Papers. 

ICA ROAP, New Delhi, 1996, 78pp.

The regional consultation opens the preparatory process for the
next Ministerial Conference which will be held in Chiangmai in

Overall Implementation and Achievements of the Past Three CoŠ
operative Ministers Conferences, by Dr R.C. Dwivedi, presents the
achievements and failures of the first conferences. The author
has been involved in the process since the very beginning. 

Critical Study on Co-operative Legislation and Competitiveness,
by Ibnoe Soedjono and Mariano Cordero. It covers five countries:
Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and
reviews the progress in drafting or enactment of co-op

Gender and Development, by Akiko Yamauchi, addresses various
issues relating to gender equality and co-operatives. Co-
operatives are one of the best tools women can use to gain
economic independence. The ICA has been actively promoting
women's involvement in the co-operatives. The new principles
highlight women's role and emphasise the importance of
gender balance in relation to development.

Sustainable Development and Co-operatives, by W.U. Herath,
presents Asian experience. The role of co-operatives in poverty
alleviation, food security, employment creation, literacy,
conservation of ecosystems, environment-friendly marketing
systems and promotion of appropriate technology is thoroughly

- Alina Pawlowska

Report of the ICA ROAP Sub-Regional Workshops on Gender
Integration in  Co-operatives

ICA ROAP, New Delhi, 1996, 189 pp, tabs.

The workshops were aimed at sensitizing participants on gender
issues in co-operatives and imparting skills of gender analysis
and planning through training sessions, so that the participants
could analyse gender issues in their countries and draft action
plans to solve the problems. The participants presented the
current situation of women's participation in their respective
countries : Fiji, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Malaysia,
Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand.

- Alina Pawlowska

Report of the 3rd ICA-NACF Regional Seminar on Agricultural Co-op
Business Development with Special Reference to Korean Experience,
Seoul, 6-15 May 1996

ICA ROAP, New Delhi, 1996, 167pp, tabs, graphs.

The objectives of this international seminar held at Agricultural
Co-operative Junior college of NACF were to learn the structure
and business of agricultural co-operatives in Korea and
possibilities of transferring this experience to other countries.
Besides an extensive part devoted to Korean experiences, the book
contains good basic reports on agricultural co-ops in China,
India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam.          

-Alina Pawlowska

International Co-operative Alliance Regional Office for Americas
Conferencia  Regional  95 - Alianzas Estrategicas Cooperativas
- Para Ser Competitivos Todos,  Miami 6-8 Diciembre 

ROAM, San Jose, 1996, 184p. Bi-lingual Spanish/English.

The three-day conference held last year was attended by more than
700 delegates from all over the Region. Strategic alliances
according to J-D.Pacheco, the Regional Director, are a privileged
instrument of development chosen frequently as a means for
expanding markets and reaching a greater number of customers with
co-operative products and services. Although this practice grew
rapidly in the private sector, there were not many similar
examples within the co-operative movement. Nevertheless, in the
last few years, there has been a notable increase of alliances
between co-operatives and private and public sector companies.
The moment was right to examine the situation and trends with
respect to strategic alliances, what everyday is more widely
accepted as an appropriate means for expanding the co-op
business. The report investigates the new phenomenon under
different angles: comparison with co-operative basic values, how
to negotiate and to finance, and finally it  gives some examples
of strategic alliances in the Americas.

- Alina Pawlowska

Guia de Reconversion Productiva Para Empresas  Cooperativas de

ROAM, Developpement International Desjardins, 1996, 233 pp. 

The present manual aims at offering the co-operatives of the
region a guide how to manage the process of conversion. The first
part is centred around theoretical concepts and methods to be
used for successful conversion, the second presents a series of
technical files analysing: preliminary conditions, internal
organisation, logistics, human resources, negotiations,
competition, profile of the sector.

- Alina Pawlowska

Anuario de Estudios Cooperativos - Lankidetzako Ikaskuntzen
Urtekaria 1995.

Universidad de Deusto, Instituto de Estudios Cooperativos,
Bilbao, 372pp.

This issue of Anuario is rich and eclectic - just as the year
1995 was for the international co-operative movement. 

A large part of the issue is taken up by papers referring to the
innovations introduced by the XXXI ICA Congress and revision of
the principles. Besides background papers such as the Declaration
on the Co-operative Identity and the Resolution of the General
Assembly, the reader will find an account of the main events
which took place during the Congress, the meetings of specialized
bodies and other assemblies held in parallel.

Four authors examine the new principles: Dr Alicia Kaplan de
Drimer gives a detailed account of the process started in 1988.
After explaining the reasons for reformulation, she analyses the
definition of co-operatives and compares the new principles with
the previous version. Dr Carlos Albero Farias focuses on the case
of co-operative banks in Argentina. The co-op banks which collect
approximately 10% of all deposits had to re-organise their
internal and external structure urgently in order to meet the
requirements of the new financial law. Despite the risk of an
identity crisis, the ideological wealth of the co-operative
movement was able to be maintained. Hans-H. Munkner investigates
how the crisis, the uncertainty and the lack of orientation due
to the disintegration of the local systems of values influence
the present situation in Africa. Juan Jose Sanz Jarque looks into
the  future of co-operatives and their responsibility to contain
the social crisis. He advocates, when necessary, the
transformation of co-operatives into other corporate forms.    

Victor Pestoff explores the potential of social accounting as a
method to avoid deviation from objectives in co-operative and
non-profit organisations. Focusing mainly on external and not
internal accounting, the author discusses the need  both to
control these organisations and inform about their social impact.
In particular, he deals with the question of why the co-
operatives have to undertake the execution of social reports, to
whom these should be addressed and how they should be prepared.

Yair Levi's study deals with the introduction to work of people
with low and medium levels of mental handicap in solidarity co-
ops in Italy. It seems that solidarity co-ops "deviate" from such
co-operative rules as homogeneity of membership and the
identification between member and user and question such common
practices as the payment of an interest on member shares and the
distribution of surpluses. The apparent co-operative limitations,
however, prove to be cementing elements in the co-operatives'
current activities and the motivating forces in their solidarity,
non-profit orientation. 

Graciela Etchart's article on a co-operative model for Brazilian
Amazonia researches the possibilities for the sustainable
development of the community of Tiningu in the Amazonia
flood plain. It suggests a co-operative model to manage local
resources. Co-operative models seem more prone to promote
intragenerational equity, a premise of sustainable development.

Finally two series of papers present national movements:
Institute for the Development of Social Economy publishes figures
on growth and distribution of employment in co-operatives
and workers societies in Spain, and the Royal Norwegian Society
for Development, the main co-op families : farmers, consumer and

- Alina Pawlowska