Democracy, Participation and Mobilization (1992)

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This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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October, 1992
(Source: Co-operative Values in a Changing World (1992)



           IV.     DEMOCRACY, PARTICIPATION AND 
                                MOBILIZATION
          ****************************************  
  
The essence of Co-operation
----------------------------------
  
("With an enlightened and active membership we can
face the future with confidence; this will enable us
to bring about, through a gradual development of the
co-operative movement, an economic democratization
of the community and to make our contribution to the
work towards a higher economic and cultural standard
for the entire population. If member interest wanes,
if the members' ability to take initiatives and their 
capacity for self-help within our organizations disappear, 
then we will be in eminent danger of losing our character 
of Popular Movement. That would mean an erosion of 
the very foundation upon all our activities are built. In 
that case, the co-operative movement would perhaps be 
an efficient business organization, a type of enterprise 
among others, but no longer a self-help movement, an
applied economic democracy in vital areas of
commerce and industry. It would no longer be an
instrument `of the people - for the people - through
the people'". 
  
-Mauritz Bonow, 1951)
  
  
As seen from the previous, and as witnessed in many other
contexts, large parts of the world co-operative sector
have experienced increasing difficulties in the effective
application of democracy, member participation and
mobilization. This is all the more serious since these
have always been considered as the traditional core
values of Co-operation: equality, equity and mutual
self-help. The importance of these was also recently
confirmed by a unanimous ICA Congress in Stockholm, 1988. 
  
So, it is desirable to consider the reasons for these
difficulties in more detail, to look for possible
solutions and to emphasize the good experiences. I take
as my point of departure the traditional co-operative
view of democracy as both ends and means, which basically
implies that:
  
(i)     the individual members are the heart of the movement
         and are expected to participate in all the essential
         activities of their co-operative society, directly
         or indirectly and that
  
(ii)    the co-operative organizations as a whole are
         expected to participate in the social, economic and
         cultural formation of society at large. 
  
Together these express the combined individual and
collective character of co-operative participation and
democracy. The first are mostly concerning the relation
between the individual members and their society, the
second more about collective relations with society in
general. By mobilization, I understand the process by
which existing and potential members become involved in
co-operative development and transform their individual
resources and wills into collective action for their own
benefit and for a better society.
  
In this chapter I will concentrate on the democratic
issues as such, reserving most of the discussions of
other values to chapter VI1. 
  
  
1. From today`s horizons
------------------------------  
Since the conditions for democracy are formed in the
long-term perspectives of development we again have to
look back in order to consider the future. We can then
clearly observe that the difficulties applying an
effective democracy started to emerge quite early. Almost
all the ICA congresses and central committees had various
issues of democracy on the agenda during these decades,
mostly initiated by experiences in connection with
adaptations to changing environments. In the 1960's and
the  early 1970`s much discussion was related to the
increasing size of the co-operatives, economies of scale,
automatization, on-going urbanization and the rapid
internationalization of trade and production.  
  
The discussions produced recommendations for active
adaptation as the best way to protect the social and
economic interests of the members. The co-operative
movement should decide to play an influential role in the
world economy, and such a role demands radical
adaptations of co-operative structures in order to be a
step in advance of competitors. At the same time, the
concern for democracy was much emphasized: co-operative
organizations were reminded to seriously "apply the
fundamental principle of democratic control by providing
the maximum opportunities for the active participation of
the members" (ICA Congress resolution, 1960. Almost the
same in 1963). 
  
1.1.    Emerging difficulties
---------------------------------  
The co-operative organizations also experienced a
successful period, both economically and democratically. 
However, conflict arose between ambitions for economic
penetration from overall perspectives and those for
maintaining and improving democratic participation within
the co-operative structures, and in the Hamburg congress
1968 it was possible to see which would be the loser. The
co-operative organizations reported increasing difficulties 
in retaining the full vigour of their  democratic base. The 
sweeping changes in co-operative structures have all been 
designed to enhance trading efficiency to enable them to 
stand up to the severe  challenges from competitors 
involving, among others things: concentration of resources, 
larger and more integrated operational units, centralization 
of services and federative power, and growing numbers 
of professional managers.

("Bu this process of centralization also implies a transfer
of authority from primary societies to apex organizations.
Increasingly decision-making is entrusted to an experienced
and professional managerial elite at the centre of the
movement. This means that in many cases societies surrender
part of their authority in connection with such basic issues
as assortment, financing, personnel, information, pricing
and services. This loss of sovereignty is none the less
real for the fact that it is usually given up voluntarily in the
interest of greater efficiency for the movement. Obligations
once assumed are binding, and responsibility is permanently
delegated to the centre.

The major effect, in the context of democracy, is to widen the
gap between members and management; to remove decision-
making from the local base which had long been considered 
the foundation of democratic control. The emasculation of 
democracy can and does manifest itself in diverse ways: in
member apathy, low attendance at meetings, weakening of
traditional co-operative loyalty, inability to attract young people, 
difficulties in recruiting staff, loss of the sense of belonging and 
of exerting influence, encroaching bureaucracy and rigidity,
even sometimes in a blurring of the end purpose of 
co-operation, namely to serve the interest of the members."

-ICA Congress, 1968, p.169)
                       
 The problems were mainly identified in relation to the above-
mentioned aspect (I) of democracy. Member organizations
reported that they were worried about these tendencies and
had made great efforts to counter them. But, obviously, these
have not been enough to keep pace with the demands for 
economic efficiency. During the late 70's and the 80's, when 
the overall  economy started to become more unstable, large
parts of the co-operative sector were forced to concentrade
their resources even more for economic effectiveness: 
increasingly with reactive aims. The signs of weakening 
democracy visible in the late 1960's, became permanent
structural trends; and this also made the collective and
penetrating aspects of democracy problematic2.

  
1.2.    A radically changed structure
------------------------------------------  
Today, we can see very clearly that the process of
development over recent decades has carried forward a
radically changed structure of co-operative organizations
since we last examined the ICA Co-operative Principles.
Borrowing the idea of the old classification from E.
Dulfer (1969, and 1985), we can roughly distinguish
between three types of co-operative organization, which
presently constitute our point of departure:
  
(1)     Traditional co-operatives, more or less in
          accordance with the original prototypes of Rochdale,
          Raiffeisen, Schultze-Delitzsch and Buchez. 
  
(2)     Larger market-oriented co-operatives in which the
          members still indicate guidelines for the activities
          (for instance, in programmes and policy 
          resolutions), but in which the management
          (professional and elected) makes most of the
          decisions about how these guidelines should be
          carried out. Usually management relies on the 
          market in these decisions. 
  
(3)     Larger horizontally and vertically integrated
          co-operetives, in which the members have handed 
          over most of the short- and long-term decision-making 
          to the (increasingly professional) management; the
          managers interpret the interests of the members,
          mostly with reference to the market.
  
  
1.2.1.  Large and integrated structures
---------------------------------------------  
The significant feature of the structural changes is the
growth of types (2) and (3). Among those, we also find 
an increasing number of co-operative organizations at
secondary and tertiary levels, which reflect a
far-reaching functional specialization and distribution
of responsibility between primary and secondary/tertiary
levels. The unions have become larger during this period
and are undertaking more of the common functions of the
primary societies, which have increasingly been
transformed into joint stock type companies. This radical
change is, above all, true for co-operative organizations
in industrialized countries, but is also seen as a
tendency for the older and established co-operatives in
developing countries. 
  
("The beginnings of co-operative activities were
    promoted by the idea of creating a joint business 
    enterprise for the improvement of the economic 
    conditions of the members: obtain, by self-help, 
    economic benefits which could be equitably divided. 
    The same ideological principles are still valid today - 
    only the methods to reach these goals have been 
    modified and must continue to change in order to 
    take account of social and technological process."
  
-Konsume Osterreich, Presentation, 1989)
  
  
So, when discussing democratic values for the future, 
we are faced with a co-operative reality quite different 
to that which existed some decades ago. There are still
small traditional co-operatives, but this is not the main
picture, at least not when it comes to problems and
difficulties. If we approach the issues of democracy with
such co-operatives in mind, we risk being unrealistic and
missing the essential issues, at least for established
co-operative organizations in the industrialized countries. 
  
This, of course, raises the question whether our
traditional concept of democracy is still relevant. The
Commission of 1966 on the Co-operative Principles
anticipated this issue, but left it to be dealt with later.  
The second Principle about democracy has little to 
say about these new structures. I must confess that 
I feel a little confused about this issue and these large 
structural changes, but I will not discuss the
traditional view until later. 
  
1.3.    Built-in conflicts
----------------------------  
From such a view, however, it is evident that the future
will inherit structures which are much characterized by
built-in conflicts between democracy and economy, for
instance in establishing the proper size for realizing
those values. Size is definitely chosen more for economy
than for democracy, at least for the participatory
aspects (i) above. We have also experienced that the
power to apply and to encourage democracy has been put in
the hands of the management: the management has in
reality both the power and the responsibility to change
the situation. It would be unrealistic to expect extensive 
and spontaneous initiatives from the members
themselves, and deeply unfair to blame their passiveness
as expressions of "apathy" etc. The reality is more complex. 
  
Furthermore, since this is a process which has been going
on for some decades, some background problems might have
emerged in connection with the changing generations in
membership and management. The older generation, those
who have participated in and often supported the
structural changes of the 1950(r)s and the 1960's, have
been replaced by new members, to whom the motives behind
such changes are history. Their realities are today's
structures. This might result in a weakening loyalty and
solidarity, reflected in lower participation. It is the
usual experience from members(r) gatherings in many
established co-operative organizations, that the average
age of the participants is quite high.
  
Turning to the new generations of management, we can
observe that they now frequently come from outside, and
may not be very acquainted with the co-operative
organizational culture. The crucial issue, of course, is
their attitude to democracy: are they used to, and
willing to accept, the traditional democratic view that
it is necessary to meet the members "face to face" as
much as possible in order to explain the methods -
preferably before these are undertaken? Or do they look
upon it as an irritation? But, of course, I must not
overestimate such aspects: new members and new managers
also give us a fresh view of co-operative democracy and
economy, without the "burden of history". 
  
In addition to this, it can be observed that communication 
between members and their societies has changed 
character in basic ways. There are evident tendencies 
and trends to replace direct ways of communication 
(meetings, debates, study groups) by indirect ways, 
such as one-way information, advertisement
and marketing. The member-oriented publications have
become fewer, and so have the deeper discussions about
co-operative issues, visions and prospects. 
  
So, taking everything into consideration it is no
exaggeration to present this serious overall impression
of the trend: members are becoming more outside the
co-operative process, both physically and mentally. The
participation aspects of democracy have mostly become a
matter for the management and a decreasing elite of
representatives in more formal democratic methods of
decision-making, above all at the second and third levels
of co-operative organization3. 
  
1.3.1.  Nuances and exceptions
--------------------------------------  
But, of course, there are nuances and interesting
exceptions from such overall impressions. It generally
seems as if participatory democracy in traditional
co-operatives has become more difficult to apply in
consumer co-operative organizations than in producer
co-operative organizations. This is not surprising,
because the conflicts between the proper size for economy
and democracy are generally more problematic to handle in
consumer co-operatives. The consumer's interest is also
more difficult to organize, among other things because of
its general and heterogeneous character and because of
the fact that there are more easily available alternatives to 
co-operative services. This has been demonstrated in modern 
economies by market competition. 
  
  
("As voluntary organizations of farmers, the agricultural 
co-operatives were established with the spirit of mutual help. 
The objectives of agricultural co-operatives, as prescribed in
Agricultural Co-operative Law, are focused on increasing 
productivity, and the enhancement of the social, as well as 
the economic, status of the member farmers: the ultimate aim 
being to contribute to the balanced development of the
national economy."
  
-National Agricultural Co-op Federation of South Korea)
  
  
The members of producer co-operatives (farmers, workers,
fishermen, forest owners, etc) generally have stronger
incentives to participate; they are more closely connected 
to their societies because their whole situation is deeply 
dependent on the success or failure of their organizations. 
They are usually more threatened as a group, for instance 
by various forms of government policy, and have more 
concrete motives to join together to protect and to defend 
themselves. This is, of course, also true for consumers 
in many parts of the world, as it was in earlier periods in 
the industrialized countries, but these needs have become 
more difficult to identify in ways that lead to conscious 
collective action. Producer co-operatives are also usually 
organized in smaller units, at least at the primary level, 
and members have usually invested more capital in their 
societies. 
  
So, there are many nuances. There are also good 
experiences for the future of smooth functioning co-operative 
democracy. From an overall global perspective I have the 
impression that the Credit Union Movement especially 
has paid much attention to the issues of democracy, as 
have the Housing Co-operatives in many countries. I also 
have the impression that the Japanese Co-operative 
Movement is very close to the ideals of democratic 
performance, with many inspiring experiences for the 
future. And finally, there are many individual and concrete 
experiences throughout the world, which  "disappear" in 
these overall impressions.
  
Despite that, however, we cannot escape from the general
picture, that large parts of the world co-operative sector 
are currently experiencing serious problems in their 
application of effective democracy, in both the individual 
and the collective meaning.
  
 2. Societal tendencies 
 -------------------------- 
Such questions become even more complicated when the
outlook is widened to structural changes in society at
large. This is again especially true for large and
established consumer co-operative organizations in
industrialized countries: traditionally the main part of
the ICA membership. The old `civic society', the social
stability of the co-operative organizations, has become
increasingly frmgmentary as urbanization progresses, as
the structure of production and employment changes and as
the class mobility speeds up. The natural basis for
solidarity and identity is becoming weaker, and the
structure of basic interests seems to have become more
differentiated. People have certainly got more free time,
and so more opportunity to participate, but there is also
an increasing competition for that time from various
activities, particularly from new leisure pursuits such
as TV, which have proliferated during recent years4. 
  
In many countries there are more political, social and
cultural associations competing for people's involvement
and need for social commitment and affiliation. And it
tends to become more of a problem for the co-operative
way to keep pace with such associations, as co-operative
organizations become more economic in character and more
silent about other characteristics. Co-operative
organizations are identified as `other enterprises' and
not as the exiting heralds of economic democracy.
Potential members, and even members, turn instead to
other organizations to give vent to their political,
social and cultural needs. And finally, we cannot shut
our eyes to the fact that the process of democratization
within modern societies tends to decrease the need - at
least as it is subjectively understood - to actively
fight for such human rights through co-operatives.
  
  
2.1.    Paradoxical experiences
-------------------------------------
  
To some extent, these experiences can be seen as
paradoxical. Co-operative organizations have, without
doubt, been in the forefront fighting for these ideals of
modernity, improved standards of living and to increase
democracy and mobilization; and have actually contributed
to make the situation better. That is the paradox: the
better society becomes, partly through co-operative
contributions, the more difficult it seems to become for
co-operative organizations to demonstrate the benefits
and merits of the co-operative way. This is emphasized
even more by the fact that the state, local municipalities, 
etc. in many countries have `taken over' welfare tasks, 
which used to be carried out by co-operative organizations 
and constituted part of their identity within society. In 
many countries consumer policy is an obvious example of this.
   
I am not saying this in order to complain about the
development. I just want to call attention to the
paradoxical dilemma, which co-operative organizations
share with many other reformist people's movements of the
last century and the beginning of this. Investigations
demonstrate that people hand over responsibilities to
their representatives and to the managers of their
democratically-built-up co-operative organizations,
whilst actively promoting their need for social
affiliation through smaller neighbourhood organizations
of various kinds. 
  
Co-operative organizations, however, might be in a worse
situation than the other people's movements because they
are becoming `jammed' between two structural trends: the
logic of economics in a market economy which is currently
demanding basic changes for efficiency, and the basic
socio-economic changes of the society. Both of these tend
to weaken the possibilities, and incentives, for active
participation in co-operative organizations.
  
2.1.1.  Unpleasant forecasts
------------------------------------  
And finally, to make the picture even more problematic,
there are some unpleasant forecasts from research and
some pessimistic attitudes from co-operators themselves.
Interactions between the structural changes of the
environment and the co-operative adaptations form a
(deterministic) process that will, step by step, remove
co-operative organizations from participatory democracy
with no way back. These trends are becoming cemented in
the co-operative structures, are creating their own
mechanisms and are even invading the minds of the
management. These are by (logical) necessity forcing the
mature co-operative organizations outside the co-operative 
way. And the outspoken recommendations are: these 
organizational structures are lost to Co-operation, and 
co-operative hope for the future must be found in the
new co-operatives and in new lines of co-operative
organization. It is no use wasting resources in attempts
to revitalize democracy in these old structures. Leave
them to history: they have completed their mission as
democratic organizations!
  
  
3. The challenge identified
--------------------------------  
Against this background of problems and difficulties we
have to consider the serious question: is the time now
ready to abandon the traditional ways of interpreting
co-operative democracy and to instead adapt the values
and principles to the experiences and realities as these
have appeared during recent decades?
  
The overall and long-term answer: no, of course not. That
would be a destructive attitude. We must instead
carefully chose our paradigm. The world is crying out for
democracy! We cannot give up the fight for democracy now,
when it has just started, as the global perspectives
clearly demonstrate. 
  
The problems experienced in the last decades cannot be
permitted to stand in the way of future values. The
established co-operative organizations cannot allow
themselves to become paralysed in their global outlook
because of the fact that they have not been able to
effectively apply democratic methods and have not been
rewarded and appreciated according to their evident
merits. This is no more than an expression of the logic
of history: people's memory is restricted and new events
are constantly competing for place. The ends and the
means must be developed now to help future developments,
and plans must be made for future contributions. The
fight for a place in the memory of future generations
must be carried out now. 
  
("Co-operation is a school of democratic order
where pluralism is practised, where the
philosophical and political views of every man and 
woman are respected, and where people contribute 
daily, in a fraternal atmosphere,  towards the creation 
of a mutual enterprise and service for its members."
 
-Cudecoop in Uruguay, 1988)
  
  
On the other hand we cannot ignore the fact that the past
has been problematic in the application of co-operative
essentials, which has weakened some points of departure,
both for the individual and for the collective aspects of
democracy. And it cannot be denied that there are truths
in these analyses and predictions about the `destiny' of
the established co-operative organizations: it looks as
if these also pass through some kind of life cycle
processes. But, since these predictions are from the
past, we need not accept them for the future: especially
not the conclusions and  recommendations for action.
Instead, it is more important than ever to start to learn
from past solutions and to look for solutions, because
there are always such ways. This requires an openness to
reveal the mechanisms behind these processes, to give
room for innovating dynamism and to use resources to
search for positive experiences by testing and exploring
new methods. 
  
3.1.    Long-term investments in democracy 
-----------------------------------------------------  
This takes time and needs long-term investments in
co-operative democracy and education, as conscious and 
as long-term as the investment in co-operative economy. 
We probably have to realize that some old structures are
impossible to revitalize as living organizations for
participatory democracy in the aspects of (i) above, and
therefore have to accept lower ambitions and less priority 
on some aspects of democracy in these structures. Instead, 
we had better keep large revitalization efforts for such 
structures until there is need of more far-reaching radical 
renewals. The old structures need not be lost to the 
democratic way for these reasons: they have basic 
contributions to make for democracy in, for instance, 
education, information, promotion of co-operative ideas, 
exchange of experience, financial and technical support 
to new co-operatives, experiments in new forms of 
democracy, etc. 
  
So, it is wise to apply a dynamic view to the
co-operative structures and the co-operative process of
development and to some extent rely on the old saying:
let bygones be bygones! We made the best out of a
problematic period of history and now the future is
waiting. But we should realize that few other
organizations can keep pace with the co-operative
organizations in furnishing the future with experiences
of democratic applications and contributions. It is
necessary to apply some self-criticism when plotting the
ways for the future, but we should not lose sight of the
essential fact that co-operative organizations, even if
they have had problems for some decades, are far ahead of
other organizations in democratic perspectives: we have
experience, committed people, basic ideas and a rich fund
of good examples!
  
The challenge for the time being is much a question of
mentality, as the co-operative utopian thinkers and
pioneers expressed it in far worse conditions than those
of today. It is a question of an inner challenge. It is
too easy to become a pessimist. But our energy must be
used to demonstrate the basic merit and eternal
uniqueness of Co-operation: Organizations for economic
democracy. Co-operation is a combination of economy and
democracy "of the people - for the people - through the
people".
  
3.2.    A common strategy
-------------------------------  
This challenge is basically similar for all co-operative\
organizations in the ICA throughout the world, and in all
stages of development. These are, by definition,
`established' when looked upon in the light of their
infinite potential.
  
The orientation of the application of democratic
strategies must certainly vary in different contexts.
Co-operatives in the industrialized world are faced with
the crucial task of revitalizing the ideas of democracy
in the minds of members, employees and management, in 
the old structures and in public opinion. Co-operatives in
developing countries face the same needs, but the
democratic challenge is connected more to thu issues of
how to build up structures, which can maintain and
improve a process with the merits of economic democracy.
The same has become true, it seems, for co-operative
organizations in Eastern and Central Europe as well as in
other countries in, or with plans for, transition from
state-planned economies to market economies.
  
There is an urgent need for agreement on a strategy for
the early 21st century to:
  
1) Communicate the co-operative message to society as a
     whole. The co-operative way to economic democracy
     must be made visible again for coming generations.
  
2) Revitalize the idea of participatory democracy among
     members, employees and management and in the
     practical instruments for carrying out co-operative
     activities. 
  
3)  Introduce applications which, from the beginning,
      include the view of participatory democracy,
      especially in the formation of new co-operatives in
      developing countries, but also in the renewal of 
      established co-operative organizations in 
      industrialized market economies.

To consciously and persistently apply such a strategy is
no less than a challenge for several generations, a
challenge for the present generation to `hand over' a
democratically-viable co-operative movement to the next.
In this overall perspective, it is especially urgent to
demonstrate that Co-operation, also in these mature
stages of development, is able to apply the democratic
way in new structures and in the minds of members,
employees and management. It is urgent for the overall
creditability of the co-operative way, but also for the
fact that a functioning democracy is the basis for
furthering the processes of international responsibility
and solidarity between people. The driving forces in such
processes have always been organizations which are
themselves democratic in their basic character.
Co-operative organizations have traditionally belonged to
these and should go on to do so in the future. This is
the basic challenge for the co-operative future.
  
  
4. Strategic principles 
--------------------------  
After this plea for the democratic co-operative way, I
turn to a more analytical approach and language again.
What are the essential principles of a strategy to
revitalize and encourage a future for participatory
democracy? What have we learnt from past experiences? In
considering such a crucial issue we might interpret
experience as reflecting problems with two basic
principles: 
  
1)  a weakened identity,
  
2)  a weakened autonomy.
  
These might be looked upon as common basic denominators
behind the difficulties, and should consequently be in
the focus for participatory and mobilizing strategies. 
  
4.1.    Identity and autonomy
-----------------------------------  
Weakening identity has been reflected by the increasing
difficulties for members to know each other, even to know
about each other, and so to identify themselves as a
group of people working together for the same end. In
other words, it is increasingly difficult to take the
step from individual action to collective action: what
the co-operative way is basically about. They have also
experienced decreasing incentives to communicate with
their societies in capacities other than as clients and
customers. And they have tended to expect more from their
societies and from the co-operative way. This is also
true for the citizens of society in general; the co-operative 
way has become less evident. 
  
One might say that the members have become more objects
for the management of their societies, and less subjects
in the efforts to improve their living conditions. At the
same time, the co-operative way, at least the established
co-operative way, has lost much of its subjective
relevance for people in their identification of methods
to improve society. This is not generally true, because
there is a growing amount of interest in new co-operative
solutions in many countries (see chapter III section7).
  
To avoid misunderstanding, I will say that I have
isolated and emphasized these aspects in order to make
them clear. This is only an outline: reality includes
nuances and exceptions; 
 
The effects of weakening autonomy have most concretely
been reflected in developing countries and in planned
economies, especially as a consequence of interference
from states and governments in the internal affairs of
co-operatives. To some extent this seems to have
destroyed the basic incentives for members to participate
actively, and thus the mutual self-reliant and mobilizing
character of co-operative organizations. The same effects
have probably emerged as a general consequence of
centralization in larger co-operative organizations;
members at local levels might have found it meaningless
to participate actively if their decisions turned out to
be of no importance. 
  
Probably, a weakening identity between the society and
its members has also made market relations more
`expensive', and made it more difficult to demonstrate
clear benefits to members and to fulfil an active and
independent market policy. This might have been
strengthened even more if the co-operative society also
had problems in mobilizing the relatively `cheap' member
equity capital, and more have become obliged to resort to
outside capital. 
  
Basically, the weakening identity and autonomy result in
difficulties in applying both individual and collective
aspects of co-operative democracy. An effective strategy
should consequently aim at rehabilitating and maintaining
the essence of these principles. And this long-term task
should be carried out in accordance with the basic
co-operative idea that people are subjects in the
co-operative contexts with a will to work together with
others. 
  
  
4.2.    Reproduction
-------------------------  
The fundamental guiding concept of such a strategy is
`reproduction', as it always has been in successful
people's movements. Co-operative development must be
consciously considered as a process within which the
conditions for identity and autonomy must continuously be
recreated and rediscovered. Because those principles, as
is evident from experience and research, cannot be there
once and for all. Consequently, nor can the values which
these principles are intended to promote. A viable co-operative 
needs a current reproduction of those principles. 
  
In revitalization, the members must gradually recover the
proper opportunities to meet as members in order to
discuss and decide upon common matters. They must again
feel that it is meaningful to use their time, efforts and
capital to participate, and they must have the
opportunity to put their own efforts into long-term
co-operative development. And the co-operative society,
its management and members must improve their efforts to
resist unreasonable outside interference, be it from
states, from other organizations or from capital. Such
measures also call for proper methods of decentralization
and education in order to encourage and improve
responsibility, competence and meaning. In attempting
from the outset to build up and maintain a co-operative
development for participation and mobilization, the
principles of identity and autonomy are vital.
  
The plan for increased participation and motivation
should cover all the basic functions from a member
perspective: 
  
-  planning
-  decision-making
-  implementation
-  meeting members
-  finance
-  benefits
-  evaluation and control
  
Because such a participation, when satisfactorily
achieved, will promote a process that will strengthen
itself by mutual interactions. The reproduction of the
essential principles will be a more or less automatic
outcome of the process. 
  
4.3.    Economic effectiveness
-------------------------------------  
I cannot avoid mentioning aspects of values other than
democracy in this context, even if I wanted to reserve
such discussion until chapter VI. However, it is obvious
that the values of economic effectiveness (and efficiency) 
are crucial in this context. The capacity of the society 
to promote the economic benefits of its members, both 
through offering the redistribution of  surplus, has 
always been seen as basic for encouraging democracy. 
It has been considered as a precondition for participation, 
identity and autonomy.
  
("It must be profitable to be a member: the co-operative 
must offer better alternatives than other organizations. 
Otherwise the co-operatives have no justification. In 
other words: an effective economy will encourage an
effective democracy.
  
The co-operative consists of members who have
joined together to solve their housing problems. 
The members and their housing societies determine 
the organization's policies. The price of the housing 
is kept down to the actual cost level. The members 
benefit from the advantages of cost-effective building
techniques and financial management."
  
-HSB in Sweden (presentation, 1988)
  
This is certainly true, especially in the long-term. But,
interpreted as a strict causal relationship, "first
economy, then democracy" - this eternal "chicken and 
egg" issue - it is doubtful as a universal thesis. How else
can we explain the fact that so many members have been
fighting, and still are, for their co-operatives and have
used their services to the full, even if they could quite
easily have found better alternatives elsewhere? A usual
situation in the pioneering periods, but also today. Of
course, it is to do with member commitment and with
member expectations, individually and collectively, to
contribute to a better social and economic order through
the co-operative way. It is to do with basic aspects of
the conditions for identity and autonomy. 
  
Consequently, one has to be careful in this `economic'
interpretation of co-operative incitements and  prerequisites. 
Because there is also the risk that too much emphasis on 
economic benefits, and economic means for social and 
democratic penetration,  will turn the members into passive 
receivers of services. This isespecially true when such an 
emphasis has been made for long periods. When such a 
situation has been established, the only short-term way 
to demonstrate the relevance of co-operative organizations 
is to agree with the saying above. All that counts are the 
economic benefits. 
  
This creates a vicious circle. So, the main thing is the
combination of democracy and economy. They belong
together like 'the chicken and the egg'. 

4.4.    Democratic management
-------------------------------------  
The identification of essential principles in this
revitalization strategy for the coming decades has mostly
been based on conventional co-operative experience and
knowledge, much witnessed in practical and theoretical
contexts. Nevertheless, it has to be repeated, when we
are considering democratic values for the future. This
way of discussing the essentials has been marked by a
management-oriented perspective. This is intentional,
because such a perspective is relevant today for large
parts of the co-operative sector. It is also past and
present experience that democratic management has a 
key role to play in the implementation of such a strategy. 
  
We usually say that the basic challenge for co-operative
practice has always been connected to the capacity to
reproduce the proper conditions for people to involve
themselves in the co-operative way. For the time being,
we can say that much of this challenge is about how to
reproduce good democratic management. We can further 
add that the methods, and the responsibility, to meet such a
challenge are in the hands of the management.

5. Some good experiences 
--------------------------------

Let me put some flesh on the bones of the outline above
by drawing from our rich co-operative experience. As I
said before, no other large economic organizations can
match the co-operatives when it comes to demonstrating a
wealth of experiences and ambitions in searching for
democracy in practice. This might sound contradictory to
the previous observation of problems, but these mostly
indicate increasing difficulties in effectively countering 
the prevailing structural forces in the environment and 
the strong pressure to use most of our resources in order 
to survive economically. 

I will point out some experiences of interest for the
future in this context.
  
5.1.    Identity at primary levels
--------------------------------------  
The trends towards larger primary societies, especially
among consumer and agricultural co-operative
organizations, have also invented methods to encourage
member identity and member participation within these
large structures. There are numerous methods:
  
-  Smaller districts within the larger societies, often
    according to the older structure of societies or to
    natural geographical areas. These districts usually
    have their own boards, representatives, elections, etc.
  
-  Special member-based bodies connected to the various
    service instruments (shops, dairies, multi-storey
    apartment blocks, etc). The aim has been to take
    part in decision-making, to advise on local policy
    matters, to establish and maintain local contacts, etc.
  
-   Member delegates with special responsibility to
    inform members, and organize meetings, educational
    activities, social end cultural gatherings, etc, for
    members and potential members. 
  
-  Identification of activities for special (homogeneous) 
   groups, such as young people, women pensioners, etc. 
  
  
These activities are indispensable in the day-to-day
performance of democracy. It is mostly low-profile\
voluntary work. The problems seem to be connected with
issues of how to mobilize people who are ready to
volunteer time and effort for these crucial tasks, and to
define the proper status of these parts of the
organization in relation to the whole: what kind of
influence, how much autonomy in decision-making and what
economic resources?
  
Perhaps the most systematic experience of recent decades
is the famous Japanese HAN groups, which are found in
many types of co-operative, mostly in consumer
co-operatives. These were started in the late 1960(r)s,
when Japanese co-operators were experiencing weakening
participation at the grass-root level and were considering 
ways of revitalization. The HAN groups became successful 
instruments, with activities today covering a wide range of 
areas, from household necessities to broader issues of 
culture, welfare and peace. The special features of these 
HAN groups are, among other things, that they are 
systematically integrated in the whole organization of 
the societies: an interesting example of a combination  of 
very local autonomy with the responsibility for, and  identity 
with, the whole. In other words, an expression  of how 
to encourage member identity in all its basic meanings.
  
  
("Recognizing the slogan `Creation of new life and 
communities full of humanity` as an important task for 
the Japanese consumer co-operative movement, they 
are marching forward with the aim of developing a
wide-ranging, in-depth movement. It is hoped that 
the time will come when the consumer co-operative 
movement plays an even greater role in Japanese 
society. It seems that the basic value of the consumer 
co-operative movement in Japan lies here. We believe 
that this human-oriented direction will distinguish
more clearly the consumer co-operatives from
their totally profit-minded competitors and contribute 
to even further development of the Japanese movement 
in the future."
  
-Michiko Hasebe, 1988)
  

It might be possible to apply the essence to other contexts, 
but of course one has to be aware of the special Japanese  
preconditions: the success of the HAN groups is largely 
dependent on the voluntary efforts of housewives working 
at home, and these methods are implemented by a society 
which is still characterized by a small-scale distribution 
system. In considering similar applications in other contexts, 
I do think that it is important to connect with other local and
basic organizations in order to create that kind of network,
which ms also one of the viable aspects of the Japanese
HAN groups. Locally collaboration between co-operatives
is especially important. I think that the Housing co-operatives 
might be a proper base for this kind of application in many 
countries.
  
5.2.    Identity with the co-operative whole
----------------------------------------------------  
Especially in periods of radical changes of co-operative
structures and in connection with basic policy decisions,
member participation is crucial for maintaining an
identity and a responsibility for the co-operative whole.
It is a very bad ten|ency, when changes at secondary
levels, etc., are defined as `neither the business of nor
of interest to' the primary members. I touched upon such
methods above, there are also other types, for instance: 
  
-  Study material and information campaigns, locally
    and nationally. In co-operatives in Nordic countries, 
    for instance, this has been routine procedure. 
  
-  Extensive member hearings, e. g. in connection with 
    preparation of action programmes, overall or special.  
    Member gatherings at regional and national levels, 
    special congresses, conventions, members' forums 
    and conferences.
  
-  Continuous information and discussions about crucial
    issues in local and national journals, study circles
    activities, co-operative broad-casting programmes, etc.
  
It goes without saying, that such large applications are
especially important in connection with the preparation
of programmes, strategies, etc. The final documents
coming out from these applications are not the most
important. It is the process of preparation and
implementation that really matters from an identity-
creating point of view. Much too often other
types of effectiveness criteria are used, when discussing
these applications. Taking into consideration the
revolution of  communication techniques, and of the
approaching information society in many parts of the
world, there ought to be good opportunities for
co-operative organizations, even large organizations, to
improve these types of member communications. 
  
5.3.    Societal identity
-----------------------------  
Keeping our identity by communicating the co-operative
message and co-operative thought is a crucial task in the
long run, and greatly underestimated. So is the basic
resource for this: the co-operative members. These ought
to be seen as the main ambassadors for the co-operative
message. But are the members identifying themselves with
this crucial task? In other words, are the members\
encouraged to take this position and furnished with the
conditions to do so?
  
In this context particularly interesting lines of action
within which members and employees make valuable
contributions to educating the younger generation are:
  
-  The development of school co-operatives in some
    countries, for instance in Malaysia, France, Italy
    and Poland, in order to give children basic
    practical insights into the co-operative way. This
    requires continuous work and resources. Active
    members of these school co-operatives go on to
    become active members, employees and leaders in the
    official co-operative organizations.
  
-  The development of university co-operatives, mostly
    in Japan, are important for the same reason as
    above, but especially for the recruitment of
    co-operatively committed management and professional
    leaders. From the Japanese experiences it can be
    seen that many of the present co-operative leaders
    have come from these university co-operatives.
  
These co-operatives might also function as vehicles to
promote education, textbooks, research, etc. about
co-operatives in the educational system. The committed
members of such co-operatives will sooner or later 
demand education also about Co-operation.
  
5.4.    Development processes for identity & participation 
--------------------------------------------------------------------  
Finally, I will turn to another interesting example,
which has become more usual during recent decades as an
alternative to the `top-down' way to establish and develop 
a co-operative. These are mostly developed in connection 
with new co-operatives in order to avoid the well-documented 
failures of similar top-down models, especially when it 
comes to mobilizing people. 
  
Practitioners and academics have started a school of
alternative thinking in these areas, and have obviously
been successful in mobilizing poor and weak parts of the
population to better their situation. These co-operatives
might be seen as `pre-co-operative' groupings with inner
characteristics of genuine co-operatives, but not
necessarily with all the formal co-operative
characteristics. The leading principles and values are
identity, participation, mobilization and self-reliance,
and the approach is characterized by continuous
reproduction. In an overall perspective, these can be
seen as steps towards a  democratic and associative
economy. As I understand it, the strategy of the ILO
co-operative department is traditionally connected to
such mobilizing aims.
  
  
("If Co-operation is practised in conformity
with its ideological premises it definitely
contributes to participatory development, because 
it empowers the weaker sections of society to 
determine how to allocate their  (meagre) resources, 
and provides them with a defense mechanism 
against manipulation or exploitation by outsiders."
  
-K. Verhagen in Co-operation for survival, 1984)
  
  
As I understand it, this is practised in many developing
countries throughout the world, as well as in
industrialized countries. The essence of these strategies
should be transferred to many basic contexts of
co-operative mobilization, also to establishing a
participatory base in the large co-operative
organizations in industrialized contexts. 
  
5.5.    Use of experiences
---------------------------------  
I have touched upon some good examples, there are
numerous others. I think that it will be even more
important in the future to devote resources to
systematizing these experiences, to evaluating them and
to attempting to apply them in other contexts. We will
surely face a period with a shortage of resources and,
therefore, it is necessary to use efficient methods. 
  
This is an area in which the ICA has good opportunities
to contribute to efficiency. Of course, the ICA is already 
doing this, but there are always possibilities for 
improvements with relatively small resources, if these 
are used in a spirit of collaboration (mutual self-help).
  
6. Employee participation
-------------------------------  
The above hms been concentrated on member democracy,
since this is the basic type of democracy in co-operative
contexts. Recently, however, the participation of
employees in decision-making, capital finance and
benefits has become increasingly important. This is the
"old chestnut" of the proper place for workers within a
context of member democracy, this time very much
initiated by the increasing tendencies in private
enterprises to initiate various forms of profit-sharing
combined with increased influence in decision-making.\
This has also become topical in co-operatives because of
the evident fact that co-operative organizations have
become large employers in the same way as other
enterprises and organizations.  

6.1.    The traditional view
---------------------------------  
Traditionally, co-operative organizations have approached
these issues by recommending employees to become members,
when this is not already the case. To some extent
co-operative organizations have succeeded in the policy
of becoming better employers than other enterprises,
since members and employees have been seen as belonging
to the same target group for co-operative activities.
Many co-operative organizations have also emphasized this
by close collaboration with trade unions from the outset
and by various ways of offering relatively good positions
for employee representatives in co-operative
decision-making processes. It is documented in various
contexts that co-operatives have been at the forefront in
applying good conditions for their workers and employees. 
  
Against that background one can say, as an overall
statement, that the issues of employee participation have
not been very critical and were much disputed in
co-operative contexts until the 1970s, of course with the
exception of those deep conflicts round the turn of the
century, clearly expressed when the ICA was in the
making. The situation is now changing, and will probably
change even more in the near future. It is seen from
experience that employee participation in enterprises
(employee identification with the enterprise) is a
strength in many ways. It is also highly probable that
more highly educated young people will claim
participation more strongly - they will not accept
hierarchical structures. And certainly, especially in the
highly industrialized countries to start with, the
competition for skilled employees will be more
accentuated as human capital becomes more crucial to
business success. With such competition good working
conditions will increase in importance. 
  
6.2.    A diversified approach
------------------------------------  
So, can co-operative organizations go on to stress their
old answers by making references to member democracy as
the overall ruling order? Yes, in principle, but we have
to approach such issues from different perspectives; the
implications differ for various parts of the co-operative
sector and for various parts of co-operative organizations. 
The implications are, for instance, different in primary 
co-operative societies of the more traditional type than in 
the more market-oriented and integrated co-operative 
organizations of the modern type. Power relations, especially 
in later types of co-operative organization, are no longer 
between "members and employees", but between "members, 
management and employees". The management in those 
co-operative organizations has in principle the same position 
as employers in other organizations, and it becomes artificial 
to discuss such issues in terms of a conflicting competence 
between member and employee democracy. This is especially 
true when considering the increasing secondary and tertiary 
levuls which are, to quite an extent, organized in stock company 
models. The links with member democracy in such contexts 
are weak and formalistic and can hardly be stressed as obstacles 
of principle to employee participation. 
  
6.3.    Issues of principle
-------------------------------  
The more cnallenging issues of principle, and perhaps
also conflicts of principle, might appear as we approach
the primary levels and such applications at secondary
levels which are close to member interests and organized
in accordance with the principles of member democracy. In
these parts of the co-operative organization we are faced
with the issues:
  
-  Is it possible to introduce methods for employee
    participation in decision-making, financing and in
    `profit' sharing, without confusing the basic
    character of the co-operative association?
  
-  Will such methods necessarily imply risks of
    conflicting interests and hence weaken co-operative
    viability?
  
In principle, and `a priori', it is easy to identify
problems, especially if there are no limits to employee
participation. Because, if employee participation exceeds
50% of the voting power, the member association will be
transformed into some other kind of association. This
however, is an extreme; what will happen at variou
degrees of influence up to the 50%? Will this entail
increasing conflicts between the interests of the members
and the interests of the employees, for instance, reflected 
in better conditions for the employees at the expense of 
the members? Or, on the contrary, will this encourage 
the employees to increase their efforts to promote the 
members(r) interest?
  
Of course, it depends on how the employees see their
identity: as a group that will look first for its own
interests, or as a group which has priority of promoting
the aims of the co-operative organization, and so
indirectly its own interests? This, in its turn, is
dependent, among other things, on the resources used in
education and on the ways in which the overall
organizational culture of the co-operative is developed.
This delicate balance is the responsibility of a skmlful
management. 
  
6.4.    Need for constructive approaches
------------------------------------------------  
One cannot answer these issues in advance. Nor is much
research evidence available, nor evidence from practical
experience. On the other hand, there are a number of
opinions, based on facts or on deductions from basic
principles. Nevertheless, these issues have to be put
high on the agenda for the next decades. We must look 
for constructive solutions: in other words such solutions 
as can make member and employee democracy support 
each other in an effective co-operative performance. This 
calls for an open innovative mind when it comes to carrying 
out experiments and testing ideas. 
  
Among other things, it is necessary to approach some of
our `holy cows'. Is it possible to organize more co-operatives 
as a mixture of various types of co-operative in order to take 
advantage of their special qualities in various aspects of 
democracy and economy?  Or, is it possible to modify and 
redefine the very basic principle of the `user' as the 
membership base and instead consider a mixed base, 
consisting of users and employees together, eventually 
also supplemented with financiers and main customers and 
suppliers? In other words, to use a more undogmatic and 
general perspective?*
  
We will certainly need such approaches in the more
pluralistic development with which we appear to be faced.
  
7. An overall approach
----------------------------  
To follow the lines of discussion from the last chapter,
I will finally touch upon some more visionary approaches
to the issues of democracy, participation and mobilization. 
When looking at the whole co-operative mouvement in the 
light of such issues we can clearly observe that the 
conditions are different in the various types of co-operative
when it comes to implementing participatory democracy in 
the aspects of (i) and (ii). So, there ought to be a basic 
challenge for innovations in order to combine various
types of co-operative with the overall aim of `maximising' 
democratic performance. 
  
This has not been the mainstream of co-operative thinking
during this century: the dominant schools of co-operative
development, as well as practice, have strongly emphasized 
the "one-dimensional way"  based on the user of the 
co-operative. The consumer co-operative way in its 
`co-operative' expression is the most extreme reflection
of this thinking. There have been some pluralistic co-operative 
visions, but these are mostly drowned in the competition of 
theory and practices. Today the multipurpose co-operative 
and the community co-operative way come close to such 
visions, as inspirations for the future. 
  
7.1.    Strengths and weaknesses
----------------------------------------  
Turning to the usual classification of types of\ co-operative, 
for instance the one we use within the ICA, we can clearly 
see that these have, as said, strengths and weaknesses in 
the aspect of democracy. The consumer co-operatives seem 
to have problems in implementing participatory democracy 
in their own structures both at the primary and the secondary 
levels, while they have a relatively strong influence on the 
market from a member  (consumer)`s point of view. The 
insurance co-operatives are restricted by legislation and by 
their special  activities terms of member participation and have
to rely on a highly representative democratic system, mostly\
through other co-operative organizations and interest
organizations. On the other hand, they have their strength 
in overall social responsibility and in their capacity to 
influence the basic security of members. The housing 
co-operatives, thanks to their small-scale structure and 
closeness to members, usually have a living participatory 
democracy at the primary level, and also opportunities 
to influence overall housing conditions. And so on. 
This requires further examination in the  future.
  
Producer co-operatives, on the other hand, generally seem
to have better conditions to implement participatory
democracy at the primary levels; this is especially true
for the worker productive co-operatives, often called the
`masters' of direct democracy. With the exception of
agricultural co-operatives in most countries, the
producer co-operatives have their weaknesses in their
dependence on the market. They are usually in the
position of having to adapt to the demands of the market
place and have few possibilities to influence the overall
performance of the market from a democratic and economic
point of view. The credit unions and credit co-operatives
have good conditions for developing participatory
democracy at the micro levels, since they use very
small-scale methods in their contacts with members and
potential members, but seem also to have good conditions
to influence macro levels, at least within the Credit
Union Movement. And so on.
  
The consumer co-operatives know about consumers(r) needs
and market conditions and they have the infrastructure
for distribution, etc. The producer co-operatives know
about production processes and have deep insights into
the preconditions for improvements in quality, etc. Of
course, they also have facilities for large-scale
distribution. The banking co-operatives and the credit
unions know about methods to encourage savings from
members and public in general and have control of
financial resources. 
  
What an impressive picture of potential strength to
improve and encourage conditions for economic democracy!
Looking to the future, we have many untried possibilities
to improve the strength of co-operatives as a movement\
for economic democracy and to gradually explore these
opportunities for a "sector approach", and to apply a
more conscious strategy to the development of democratic
applications. The challenge is about how to collaborate
to develop new structures in order to compensate for
individual weaknesses and exploit the strengths of
various types of co-operative. I understand that the
famous Mondragon is an expression of this. 
  
The same is true of the relations between the larger and
more established co-operatives and the newer types of
co-operative development. Here also, we can identify
weaknesses and strengths, as well as the ways in which
the whole democratic output can be maximised. The
established co-operatives in mature stages of development
might see themselves as the basis for financial and
technical support, assistance, encouragement and
legitimacy for new lines of co-operative development,
outside and inside their own areas of activity. 
  
 7.2.    Time for collaborative innovations!
 -------------------------------------------------- 
 he most crucial area for future applications is, of course, 
the relations between co-operatives in developing
countries and industrialized countries; but there might
also be some interesting possibilities locally and
nationally. For instance, when the larger co-operative
organizations are diversifying their activities and/or
strengthening and decentralizing their old structures,
why not seriously consider new types of organizational
applications, using the good qualities of various types
of co-operative? Why not use the small-scale techniques
and the basis of local identity among members from
various co-operatives when establishing some more
specific service or production bodies and organize these
in a combination of worker co-operative and
consumer/agricultural co-operative? Or, why not organize
a co-operative department store with basic
characteristics from a worker co-operative and combine it
with user representation through consumer co-operatives
in order to get the knowledge of, and contacts with, the
larger market conditions and financial institutions? 
  
There are some examples of the above and we should
carefully study their experiences. We also have a long
experience of the federative model and of various types
of networking. Of course, there are problems, otherwise
we would have done it already. But our competitors can
feel happy as long as we cannot overcome the problems and
consciously start to explore these possibilities.
  
8. Efficient methods 
------------------------  
In this chapter I have concentrated on the issues of
democracy, particularly on the participatory and
mobilizing aspects of democracy. I have argued that these
values deserve a high priority in accordance with the
essence of our traditional view of them; the situation
for the future is affected by the fact that the values of
participatory democracy are under threat in large parts
of the co-operative sector, at the same time as large
parts of the world have just started to move towards
democracy. The challenge is to determine a strategy to
revitalize and reproduce these values: I have identified
the essential principles for such a strategy and argued
for an overall perspective in applying it.
  
This calls for investments in democracy, when it comes to
the crucial tasks of identifying good practice, establishing 
the co-operative identity and making the necessary 
evaluations. At the same time, it appears that available 
resources have become more restricted, which means 
that concern about the efficiency of the methods applied 
is increasing. 
  
It struck me, during my preparatory work, that the
co-operative sector has a fund of rich experience in
these areas. We need not "invent the wheel" again, so to
speak. Instead, it is more important that we discuss and
analyze the weaknesses and strengths of the various
experiences, select their essential aspects, and carefully 
consider how to adapt them for use in other contexts.
  
("We understand Co-operation as an instrument
for the promotion of the human condition, of the 
individual(r)s personality and dignity, assuming 
consequently that all people have bee created equal 
as belonging to the same species and having a 
common destiny. We think that the human being 
in this dual dimension - material and spiritual - 
is imperfect and can only reach his or her full 
potential in solidarity withother human beings."
  
-Alecoop in Bolivia, 1988)
  
This has always been one of the main tasks for the ICA 
in all areas of co-operative activity. Regarding democracy,
ICA has basic contributions to make in promoting the
effective and efficient methods for participatory
democracy, which is the essence of Co-operation!
  
8.1.    Basic  issues
------------------------  
Basically, the effective way to achieve democracy is
through the co-operative mentality: an inner challenge.
So, when looking to the future we have to consider the
following questions:
  
1) Do we still have a strong belief in the relevance of
    the co-operative contribution to a more democratic
    and participatory society? Or do we believe that
    society as a whole is managing quite well without
    this contribution and, consequently, that our main
    priorities should be the realization of  other
    values, for instance achieving economic benefits for
    the members and for society as a whole?
  
2) Are we still considering a viable co-operative as an
     organization characterized by active member
     participation? Or, do we think that active member
     participation is an obstacle to management and might
     very well be substituted by "the market" and by
     capital from sources other than the members?
  
3)  Are we seriously exploring the possibilities for
      communication with members as subjects of
      co-operative organizations when preparing larger
      changes of co-operative structures? Are we seriously
      looking for opportunities to implement methods for
      member participation in connection with renewals of
      co-operative structures? Is member participation an
      essential part of our vision for the future of the
      co-operative way?

In the Congress of 1988, ICA members declared that the
values of democracy and participation deserved the
highest priority. Such declarations are a long way from
practice. The touchstones appear, when the proper
applications are prepared, planned and implemented. For
the time being, the challenge is about futurec o-operative 
credibility and, above all, about the responsibility of 
co-operators to honestly demonstrate that they want 
to "live as they learn".
  
Recommendations
-----------------------  
Democratic applications at the secondary and tertiary
levels of co-operative organization are problematic and
need further analysis. This was pointed out by the ICA
Commission of 1963 on Co-operative Principles. Since
then, the changes have been radical. A study should be
carried out to examine experiences and to propose
constructive ways for the future in more detail. The ICA
is the natural body to undertake this.
    
Notes
*****
  
1) The participatory concept in co-operative organizations 
     has been discussed innumerous ontexts. Some of the 
     written publications which have particularly inspired 
     me in my approach are Verhagen (1984 and 1987), 
     the articles of Furstenburg and Blumle in Dulfer and 
     Hamm (1985), Ilmonen (1986), Stryjan (1989) and 
     Pestoff (1990).
  
2) Protocols of the ICA and current articles in the Review 
     of International Co-operation.  

3) These judgments are based on numerous written and 
     unwritten sources. The main conclusions have the
     character of conventional wisdom among researchers
     and co-operators. The main written sources are Brasda/
     Schediwi (1989), Dulfer (1985), Munkner(1991), 
     Ilmonen (1986), Bager (1988) and ILO (1988). 
  
4)  My empirical framework is mostly the Nordic context
     as described in many research contributions and
     studies of co-operative organizations and other
     people-based interest organizations. Various
     observations tell me that the essence of these
     findings is true for at least the industrialized part of the 
     world. See Ilmonen (1989).
  
5)  For the identification of essential principles there
     is a growing amount of practical experiences and
     literature. My friends, A. Chomel and D. Mavrogiannis 
     in the advisory committee, have reminded me about it 
     many times in our meetings and in articles and reports 
     sent to me. I have also observed these principles quite clearly 
     in connection with my advisory work with new co-operatives 
     since the 70's. My written sources are: Verhagen (especially 
     1984), Stryjan (1989), Jobring (1989), Ilmonen (1986), 
     Munkner (FAO 1991) and Rokholt (1984 and 1989). 
  
6)  In this context I refer to the revitalization of the old co-operative 
      and closely-related ideas of the utopian thinkers, currently 
      reflected in the various strategies based on P. Freires' and 
      others' experiences and theories of development. During the
      80's, and in co-operative contexts, I have particularly noted 
      the pioneering work of K. erhagen (1984 and 1987) in putting 
      such principles into practice, which I understand to have 
      inspired many theoretical and practical approaches, for 
      instance Craig/Poerbo in Journal of Cooperation  (1988) and 
      Munkner (FAO 1991).
  
7)  The views in this part of the chapter are mostly  taken from my 
      own experiences and studies in connection with the Swedish 
      plans of the 1970(r)s and 1980's to introduce "wage earners' funds" 
      as a method of radically increasing employee participation. My reports 
      and articles are only in Swedish, partly summed up in (1990) for 
      consumer co-operatives. For an early discussion of these issues see 
      Ostergard/Halsey (1965). 
  
8)   An interesting and co-operatively-oriented discussion about similar 
       issues can be found in Meade 1989.