Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations (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)
  

                SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS AND 
                          RECOMMENDATIONS
                *********************************  
  
("We, as co-operators, come together with the
 objective of solving our problems collectively
 for the common good at the primary society,
 local union, national apex bodies or
 international forums. We are running a race
 together to achieve better living standards the
 world over. It is not important that one winner
 emerges but that we all cross the line. Let us,
 then, join hands in addressing the problems
 which hinder food self-sufficiency in the world
 in general, and Africa in particular. Let this
 be our mission."

 (Bernadette Wanyoni, ICA Development Forum 1991.)
  
  
The past two to three decades have seen an expansion of
membership within the world-wide Co-operative Movement,
combined with unusually far-reaching changes in the
movement as a whole as well as in the individual
organizations. Co-operatives have been formed in more
parts of the world, in more spheres of operation and to
fulfil more diversified needs. In terms of membership,
the traditional European co-operatives, especially
consumer co-operatives, have lost their dominant position
in the world co-operative sector, being replaced by the
Asian co-operatives. In economic terms, however, the
European co-operatives keep their dominant position. 
  
Currently, about 700 million individuals and/or
households world-wide are members of co-operatives. The
world Co-operative Movement has become more pluralistic
and international in character during these decades. 
  
 A period of radical changes ...
 ------------------------------------- 
The environment has changed rapidly and radically during
recent decades and this has necessitated far-reaching
changes to basic structures and ideas within the
Co-operative Movement.
  
-  In highly industrialized countries the established\
   co-operative organizations have usually expanded and
   become more large-scale in character. Their
   activities have become more specialized, with
   secondary and tertiary levels of co-operative
   organization. Many have also started to use
   applications which have increasingly challenged the
   traditional value point of view. The latter is
   particularly true for methods of capital formation,
   and for the increased use of the joint-stock company
   form of organization.

-  In the developing world many of the new states of
    the 60s and the 70s have chosen the co-operative way
    for their economic and social emancipation, and have
    given co-operatives crucial tasks in their
    development strategies. Here, one may say that the
    co-operative way was in its early stages and was
    searching for its viable forms. In particular there
    have been problems in establishing the correct
    relationship with the State in order to operate
    effectively as a co-operative. 
  
-  In the once centrally-planned economies of countries
    of Eastern Europe and the former USSR, co-operatives
    are in the process of developing a new identity as
    part of the on-going transformation. 
  
The starting point for the future is for the time being,
and for the foreseeable future, characterized to an
unusual extent by the processes of transition: the highly
industrialized countries are approaching the
post-industrialized types of society, more developing
countries are entering the industrial stage of
development and one-party political systems and
state-planned economies seem to have become obsolete,
being substituted by pluralistic market systems. It is
certainly no exaggeration to say that we are living in a
period of unusually radical change. Some observers even
speak about a new epoch, the one that succeeds the
industrial epoch.
  
...but also of lack of changes.
 ----------------------------------- 
For some parts of the world this is definitely true. In
others, however, in fact for a large part of the world
population, the situation is still characterized by
pre-industrialized stages and a relatively slow
orientation towards more industrializing stages of
development. Here, the world is much the same as it was
some decades ago. This also applies to the distribution
of wealth: the clefts between rich and poor parts of the
world have even become larger during the 80's. Moreover,
the present generation, especially in the rich countries,
continues to exploit the Earth's resources with no regard
for future generations. 
  
The world Co-operative Movement carries out its
activities in a variety of contexts and to meet a variety
of needs. This demands the application of different
methods as appropriate for various contexts.
  
Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that the actions
of one country may have environmental repercussions for
others. This makes the value of global solidarity crucial
as a common denominator for the other basic values. 
  
This report
--------------  
Against this background, this report proposes a basis for
the discussion of the long-term value guidelines for the
future. It is my conviction that the world-wide
Co-operative Movement needs to consider these more than
ever, especially as the point of departure is marked by
transition into a more *unknown* future than usual. The
report has approached this task by firstly identifying
the traditional co-operative values and then by
discussing these against the experiences of recent
decades and prospects for the future. 
  
From that basis the report carries forward:
  
-  Conclusions about the traditional basic co-operative
    values and their relevance for the future.
  
-  Recommendations about global basic values for the
   future.
  
-  Recommendations about some approaches for the
    revision of the ICA Principles.
  
During discussions it has been observed that some
practical aspects need further examination with regard to
the future. These have been carried forward as special
recommendations. 
  
1. Conclusions about the relevance of traditional basic values
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 
I have identified three types of traditional co-operative
basic values: basic ideas, basic ethics and basic
principles (chapter II).
  
It might have been expected from recent experiences,
particularly among established co-operative organizations
in modern industrialized countries, that co-operators and
co-operative organizations are ready to change their
traditional basic values, or at least to reinterpret
these to quite an extent. Practice has come to *question*
the traditional values and has even deviated from them.
Moreover, some of the traditional values might be seen to
be more-or-less accepted by society at large (chapters
III, IV, VIII). Before I started my work I also heard
statements about 'renewals' and 'old fashioned values',
stating that a revitalization of co-operative
organizations should imply 'new values'. 
  
However, I have seen no evidence of any move to abandon
or radically change any traditional values when it comes
to identifying basic values for the future. In other
words, those values that co-operators want to use as
basic guidelines for their long-term applications. On the
contrary, co-operators seem to be willing to maintain the
original values, even if they might be expressed in
different ways. Of course, my impressions are limited.
  
Until further notice, however, I take this as a sign that
the tendency to deviate from the traditional values
during recent decades mostly reflects pragmatic adaptions
to difficult environments, rather than an intention to
permanently change the basic values. 
  
It is not easy, probably not meaningful either, to make
priorities in the basic values I have identified, because
such priorities must, by their nature, be made in the
various contexts of their application. However, some
values seem to receive more emphasis than others. Among
basic ideas this is true for:
  
-  Equality (democracy) and Equity 
-  Voluntary and Mutual Self-help
-  Social and Economic Emancipation.

This is not surprising, since these have always been
looked upon as the essential ideas and as eternal values
of the very concept of Co-operation in ICA contexts. On
the other hand, as previously stated, their interpre-tation will 
surely vary in different parts of the world according to the 
cultural, political and economical preconditions. 
  
Close to these, and partly embedded in them, are the
basic ethics. These are less discussed, since they are
more connected with the hearts and minds of committed
co-operators. Nevertheless, I have the impression that
the most important are the values of 
  
-  Honesty 
-  Caring 
-  Pluralism (democratic approach)
-  Constructiveness (faith in the co-operative way).
  
These might be interpreted as personal qualities. It is
more relevant to identify them as part of the
"co-operative spirit" and the "co-operative culture" for
co-operative organizations as a whole. In other words, as
values which should be encouraged to characterize the
relation between members, between members and their
societies, and between co-operative societies and the
community at large. 
  
  
Finally, we are faced with the more instrument-oriented
values, which I have called basic principles and
characteristics of the co-operative organization. These
concern building up viable co-operative organizations
from the members' point of view. To some extent they are
also based on a mixture of experiences and ideas. I have
the impression, that these are the values to which
co-operators most frequently refer when discussing "basic
values". Among these the most important seem to be:
  
-  Association of persons
-  Efficient member promotion
-  Democratic management and member participation
-  Autonomy and independence 
-  Identity and unity
-  Education
-  Fair distribution of benefits
-  Co-operation, nationally and internationally.

These basic principles and characteristics are the most
relevant when it comes to revision of the ICA
Co-operative Principles.
  
2. Recommendations on basic global values
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The relevant way to express the basic values at the
global level is to give them an action-oriented context
for their application. For these reasons, I have
identified some common and crucial perspectives for the
coming decades, which I have called "basic global
values". These reflect the basic values as a whole, give
some overall priorities to the individual values at the
global level, and might be considered as a basis for the
development of a global co-operative profile. They might
also serve as a basis for the development of a long-term
programme at the ICA level. 
  
With such intentions, I have recommended that the
co-operative organizations should consider themselves as
organizations for:
  
-  Economic activities for meeting needs
-  Participatory democracy
-  Human resource development
-  Social responsibility
-  National and international co-operation.
  
These are the essence of the co-operative way, in its
organizational basics, its purposes and its community
relations. They also reflect the basic ideas of peace and
global solidarity, as well as a movement for
international economic democracy. To comment briefly 
on them:
  
-  Economic activities for meeting needs means that the
    world-wide Co-operative Movement should continue to
    plan its activities to meet the needs of the common
    people as farmers, workers, consumers, producers,
    fishermen, savers, etc. This has always been the
    main orientation, and the emphasis on needs makes
    the co-operative way significant. It also includes a
    responsibility to economize on scarce human, economic 
    and environmental resources, which is particularly 
    influenced by the fact that co-operatives are mainly funded 
    by the savings of relatively poor people. It also emphasizes 
    the main aim worldwide: to help to improve the standards of
    living of the least wealthy. 
  
-  Participatory democracy is part of the role of the
   world-wide Co-operative Movement in contributing to
    democratic relations between people, and in developing 
    the roles of a "school of democracy" and "an instrument for 
     economic democracy". This is in its early stages, in some 
     parts in the very early stages, and the task is as important as 
     ever. In many co-operative contexts these roles should be 
     refined by paying attention to the participatory aspects of 
     democracy, and in doing this special attention should be paid 
     to finding new forms of organization and to involving women, 
     young people and co-operative employees.
  
-   The development of human resources is basic to the
    world-wide Co-operative Movement, and is as
     important as ever for the future. The co-operative
     movement is in its infancy in many parts of the
     world, and the need for social and economic emancipation 
     is urgent: to raise people to human dignity and to give 
     them a voice, individually and collectively, to influence 
     living conditions and the community at large. This, among other 
     things implies that the co-operative way seeks to mobilize
     the human economy based on co-operation rather than
     on exploitation by capital.
  
-   Social responsibility is implicit in the  co-operative way. 
     Groups of people have established co-operative societies 
     in order to take responsibility for their own condition and for 
     the community at large. This social responsibility has always 
     been reflected in the basic co-operative policies, within the 
     co-operative organizations a well as in their relationships with 
     society in general, and should go on to characterize the 
     co-operative  future. The current emphasis on individualism 
     and the market economy looks likely to continue for some 
     decades. In such  circumstances, it is vital that we have 
     organizations which are  able to express the views of the 
     weaker members of society and to act in their interests.  
  
-   National and international economic co-operation is
    the main way in which the world Co-operative 
    Movement can expand and become more influential.
    This has become even more important in a 'shrinking'
    world. The possibilities are numerous, and in future
    years the world-wide Co-operative Movement may
    become a people-based alternative to the capital-associative 
    way of internationalization.
  
 3. Recommendations for the ICA Principles
 ---------------------------------------------------------- 
  The ICA Principles are the basic guidelines as to how
  these values may be put into practice. My task in this
  regard has been restricted to recommending some
  guidelines for the revision of the ICA Principles
  following the Tokyo Congress. I have thus decided not to
  go into details, nor to recommend ready reformulations of
  the Principles, since such recommendations might reduce
  our discussions of the basics. In approaching the
  revisions, I have considered two approaches, one modest
  ambition and the other more ambitious.
  
  For the more modest approach, I recommend that the
  existing Principles should be changed as follows:
  
  -  The Principle regarding limited interest on capital
       should be reformulated in a more flexible way. It
       should not be seen as a separate Principle; instead,
       it should be included in a new Principle about
       capital formation (see below) 
  
  -  The essential Principle should be about capital
       formation. It should stress the need to rely on
       member capital (individual and collective) as much
       as possible, and to guarantee a proper degree of
       independence in raising and managing capital
  
  -  The Principle on democracy should be supplemented
       with a statement about the participation of
       employees in co-operative administration
  
  -  A new Principle should emphasize the proper degree
       of autonomy and independence of a co-operative
       organization, and might be combined with the new
       Principle about capital formation. 
  
  
  These recommendations are based on the experiences of
  recent decades and their relation to basic co-operative
  values and principles. Preliminary formulations can be
  found in the report (chapter VIII).
  
  
  Concerning the more ambitious revisions, I recommend that
  the ICA should develop two types of Principles: Basic
  Co-operative Principles and (rules regarding) Basic
  Co-operative Practices:
  
  -  The Basic Co-operative Principles should express the
       universal essence of Co-operation more explicitly
       and should be formulated in terms of the basic
       values mentioned above.
  
  -  The Basic Co-operative Practices (or rules for
       practices) should refer to the various types of
       co-operatives and should give more concrete examples
       in terms of practices and rules for such practices.
  
The first type of Principle is more eternal in character.
The second type of Principle is subordinate to the first type and 
is more short-term in character. These should be revised in order 
to be relevant for contemporary society, and could subsequently 
be developed as necessary by ICA's specialized committees.
  
The rationale for the more ambitious revision is to be found in 
chapter VIII.
  
    
Appendix A:
*********** 
Special recommendations about special issues
--------------------------------------------------------------
  
The discussions and the analyses in the report have highlighted 
some practical aspects which require further examination by the 
ICA. I have made some special recommendations concerning some 
of these (no special priority):

1) There is a need to strengthen the support for co-operative 
     organizations in developing countries in their dealings with the State. 
     Such work is already being carried out by the ICA Regional
     Offices, but could be supplemented by a special ICA body with 
     participants from the developing countries and the Regional Offices 
     with a group (or network) of experts at its disposal. The aim should be  
      for it to be a *watch dog* body to examine the issue of Co-operative-
      State relationships, to carry out special investigations on request, and 
      to record experiences and use these to form conclusions.

2)  There is an urgent need to collect and analyze data regarding the 
      transformation processes in the planned economies. Such changes will 
      continue for many years and in more countries. The preconditions are 
      different, but there are also some similarities. Perhaps such a task might 
      be organized as a special programme, or as a special "institute", set up 
      by the ICA. The character of this body, whatever form it takes, should 
      be research, education and information-oriented. 
  
3)  There is a need for an exchange of informatio regarding the 
      ways in which established co-operative organizations may be 
       revitalized, above all as regards member participation. This is 
       mainly a matter of identifying and testing new ideas. Such
       exchange of experience is, of course, currently taking place. 
       The need, however, is to achieve a continuity and a comprehensive 
       view of the especially good examples. The ICA would be the
        natural co-ordinator.
  
4)   The ICA's relationships with new co-operatives need to be discussed 
       in more detail. This is an on-going study undertaken by CICOPA 
       (the ICA Committee for workers in other forms of productive 
       co-operative) and there is no need to make any other arrangements.
       The issues, however, ought to be grouped into themes within the wider 
       ICA contexts in order to provide the basis for some overall policy 
       recommendations.
  
5)  The lack of statistics relating to the movement as a whole, especially 
      basic economic data such as output (turnover), employment and capital,
      is a matter for concern. Without this it is impossible, for instance, 
      to conduct simple studies of productivity in order to compare 
     development over a period of time or to compare different parts of the 
     economy. I strongly recommend that the ICA and its member 
     organizations should improve their statistics, at least so as to permit 
     some modest overall analysis of the development of the world 
     co-operative sector.
  
6)  The democratic process at the secondary and tertiary levels of 
     co-operative organization are problematic and need further analysis. 
     This has previously been indicated by the ICA Commission of 1963 
     on Co-operative Principles. Since then, there have been radical changes. 
    A study should be carried out to further examine past experiences and 
     to make constructive proposals for the future. The ICA would
     be the obvious body to carry this out.
  
7)  It is necessary to make a closer examination of the feasibility
      of developing bodies to pool financial resources in order to 
      economize on scarce resources, to initiate new projects for 
      co-operative development, and to match supply and demand. 
     These might be "co-operative development banks on a
      regional basis" and, ultimately, a "co-operative world bank". 
  
8) The tendency in capital formation to make member shares 
     reflect the value of the co-operative society is a deviation 
     from traditional ideas and principles. This tendency will 
     probably become more widespread during the next decade. 
     The various methods used or planned should be more 
      closely studied by the ICA. 
  
9) The transformation of co-operative societies into
     joint-stock companies, and the alterations to
     federative structures should be more closely examined. 
     These transformations are quite recent, but the 
     developments of the 80's show that they are becoming 
     more widespread. This will probably be one of the most 
     important issues of the 90s into the next century. Such 
     transformations take many different forms and occur for 
     a multitude of reasons.  A study should be made to evaluate 
     the advantages and the risks. 
  
10)The federal co-operative model has been questioned 
      during recent decades. To some extent it has been totally 
      abandoned, to some extent supplemented by integrated 
      structures. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the 
      federal model? Such issues will be of vital importance 
      during the next decade. The ICA should carry out a special 
      study of these issues.