ICA Research Committee Annual Conference, 13-17 May 1998, Cork, Ireland
Abstracts Presented to the Conference
Abstracts Presented to the Conference
The Associated-based Working Structure: a Challenge for the Architects. Dr. Adriana Rabinovich Behrend
Institute for Research on the Built Environment of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-Lausanne, Department of Architecture, Switzerland (IREC-DA/EPFL). The issue of social and environmental urban development is one of the main concerns of the IREC-DA/EPFL. Research, practice and training have been carried out in this field for over a decade by an inter-disciplinary team, with a network of Latino-American partners whose main aim is setting-up alternative strategies for creating cities. Be they the discussion and training forums, housing rehabilitation schemes or university training programmes among others, these experiments are based essentially on two top priority features. First, the acknowledgement of the city at its multiple levels: territorial, political, economical and cultural. Second, the need to involve the totality of the people concerned by the town scheme: political authorities, financing organizations, technicians and professionals but also its inhabitants, while promoting communication between the network's members.
The promotion of association-based structures which workout solutions for the city, based on local experiments seems a good alternative answer to destruction, pollution and to the segregation and poverty which is inherent to today's urban development. Several years work have now shown the difficulties involved in such an approach, yet experience shows that local initiatives have to be encouraged and that out of these emerge lessons which are useful to other partners of the network. The question is whether these association-based experiments are real alternatives in building the city. They entail a turning upside down of the principles of urban conception and construction, changing the "top down", usually very technocratic vision into a "bottom up" approach, based on the city's people's united strategy.
In this field, our experience allows us now to express a basic hypothesis: the future of alternative experiments when faced with these united strategies between political and economic power depends on the social system's suppleness and flexibility in three of its main aspects: public (regulations, norms) economico-financial (better suited to "clients" needs) and on structures of professional organization and action. Through the HABITAT-CUBA example, we are going to reflect upon these different aspects, particularly the structures of professional organization and action (the organizational and methodological aspects).
HABITAT-CUBA, an association for Housing and Urbanism, is a non government , self-financed organization whose concrete activities started around 1993. Among this vast programme of multi-disciplinarian operations for the community in the domain of housing, there is the important national programme of the Community's Architects, the main axis of activities coordinated by HABITAT-CUBA. Its main aim is to create a structure which could suitably answer the population's needs in form of projects, technical assistance for rehabilitation - alterations, enlargements or renovations - of dwellings. As for the urban projects, they are dealt with by other programmes, running along side those of the Community's Architects, and in which professionals of various fields take part. Thus every operation takes several levels into account: community work, architectural project and development of alternative building techniques which could reduce building costs. The HABITAT-CUBA method really seems to break new ground: in the methodological participative approach (based on the method created by the Argentine architect Rodolfo Livingston) but also in the global organization framework set-up by HABITAT-CUBA.
Through promotion and the setting-up of association based structures, this organization's experiment encourages new means of insertion for professionals and technicians, the implementation of alternative financing structures and the creation of small regional production businesses.
Education in the Art of Co-operation.
by Kai Blomqvist
After a co-operative has been well established, what kind of education is needed to regenerate co-operative action among coming generations of co-operators? This is my question. In view of my study of co-operative action and current development of a human-scientific theory of action about co-operation (See paper presented at the last conference in Bertinoro and forthcoming article in the Review of International Co-operation), I understand co-operative knowledge and the ability to act co-operatively as an art. Thus, co-operative education is a kind of art education. Basically, I regard the co-operative phenomenon as "a way in which" the co-operator acts and which is shown in some particular quality of the results of his action. The actor has a certain co-operative disposition to act, supported by a belief, experience and value source, shared with other co-operators. HOW the co-operator acts is the key question, not WHAT he does when he acts.
From this follows the educational question: How do you learn this HOW of co-operative action? To lay a foundation to find an answer to this question, I want to consider some basic concepts. What is practical knowledge, the kind of competence based on experience? What gives co-operative meaning to a particular action? What is the role of values and principles in a co-operative action? What is the creative element in a co-operative action? What co-operative quality can be discerned in connection with such basic concepts as perception, intuition, consciousness, judgement.
Some consideration is also needed concerning the role of language and the relationship between art, technique and science when dealing with the matter of co-operative action. DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE and HONESTY are examples of basic co-operative values which are used to illustrate how to learn something which, basically, are "ways in which" you do something when you act co-operatively. Some comparisons will be made with the learning of painting, music, body awareness and diet training. Having stated that co-operative education is not aiming at producing instrumental relations and life views, I end the paper by giving some practical hints on how to structure an education worthy of the name "co-operative".
Organizational Ideology and Collective Change. Lessons from a Norwegian Agricultural Producer Cooperative in Transition.
by Mr. Svein Ole Borgen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Agricultural University of Norway.
My paper presents a longitudinal case study of a Norwegian Meat Producer Cooperative which is in the process of adapting to fiercer and more internationally oriented competition. The research issue is to what extent this cooperative has developed an organizational ideology which is strong enough to facilitate collective action. The collective action in question is to develop and implement new practices which significantly increase the members` sensitivity to fluxes in the domestic demand pattern.
The paper explores the underlying reasons why this issue is of vital importance, which all seems to relate to the implementation of a novel international and national political regime. Thereby, the producer cooperative must play a more active role in integrating their members. Since ideological control is among the most relevant control mechanism for cooperatives in accomplishing this integrative task, the producer cooperative in question is challenged to develop an organizational ideology which legitimate the need for increased market adaptation.
The paper is particularly concerned with the motivational anchorage of the organisational ideology. The major empirical result is that identification, as measured by experience as representative, makes a significant difference. Hence, the key to understand the strength of the ideology is to understand the strength of the members` identification to the cooperative, and the mechanisms by which this identification is enhanced and maintained. Identification-based trust emerges as a crucial concept in the explanatory framework which is developed. An interesting path for further research is to address what experience as representative makes to people, and what people make out of their experience as representative.
Saskatchewan Wheat Pool: Developing and Expanding Value Added Activities in the Context of Global Challenges and Opportunities
by Murray R. Bryck, Sakatchewan Wheat Pool, Canada
Within the context of the ICA Research Conference theme of "Values and Adding Value in a Global Context" a case study is presented which outlines activities being undertaken by Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (SWP) to develop and expand value added activities. The study examines strategies being undertaken and future plans in terms of expanding value added activities and benefits. The beginning of the study summarizes theoretical concepts and methodologies involving macro and micro agri-food developments within the context of globalization. Major theoretical applications include industrialisation, vertical integration, interdependence, trade liberalization, deregulation/regulation and organizational structures.
Following the section on theory, research information is provided regarding major global developments with specific relevance and application to the operations of SWP. The majority of the research paper outlines activities and strategies undertaken by SWP to develop and expand value added activities. In this regard, information is provided on the vision, mission and organizational values of SWP. Elaboration's are included regarding financial restructuring (equity conversion) undertaken by the organization to improve its ability to source investment funds while at the same time improving its competitive capabilities. Information is provided on some of the organzation's major value added activities. SWP has undertaken numerous activities to add value to its member's products both in the areas of marketing and processing/manufacturing. Several examples are provided which illustrate paradigm shifts for the co-operative, both in terms of international marketing changes and local production developments.
Research material is included to illustrate how both commercial and policy activities are implemented to create and expand value added activities. Major policy development efforts dealing with trade/marketing, transportation, safety nets, technology and the environment are highlighted. The concluding section of the paper identifies the organization's future plans in terms of value added activities. These are identified under the theme of "defining agri-business for the next century".
Net Gain for Co-ops.
by Malcolm Corbett, Soft Solution (workers) Co-op. Marketing Director of Poptel Internet (a worker co-op), Chair of Social Enterprise London, and a council member of ICOM, the UK Federation of Worker Co-ops. Web:http://www.poptel.net; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Internet and electronic commerce will dramatically change the way that we buy goods and services. Malcolm Corbett argues that it could also lead to a whole new era of growth for co-operatives.
Industry pundits agree that electronic commerce will mushroom over the next few years as companies scramble to get their goods and services available on-line. And it isn't just the rapid growth in Internet computer users (now about 100 million globally, 6 million on the UK) that is driving this, but the advent of interactive digital television and cable, offering a truly mass audience. By the year 2001 we could be buying $8 billion worth of travel and entertainment tickets on-line, or $1.6 billion worth of music. Already Dell, a leading computer manufacturer, sells $3 million worth of products on-line per day. In the UK, leading supermarket chains like Tesco are experimenting with on-line shopping and home delivery, promising an end to queuing, and reduced car journeys.For manufacturers and retailers the benefits are clear. If you want the latest version of a software program, download it - i.e. spend your money on the Internet phone call, rather than the manufacturer's sending it by post. If you want more information on a product or service, visit the website - with the book reviews on-line, Amazon has no print or distribution costs. Of course the killer advantage for commerce is the information gathered - automatically - about the purchaser, their interests and preferences. It looks like a commercial WIN-WIN-WIN! situation. But is it?
Power to the Consumer.
There are also big advantages for consumers. On the net alternative suppliers are literally a mouse click away. Amazon.com may have great book reviews, but if the purchaser can zoom off to the Internet Bookshop, and seconds later find the same title £2.00 cheaper, who is going to make the sale? Depending on your point of view, the ease with which users can select and compare offerings encourages either consumer choice, or on-line promiscuity. This 'problem' is exercising the minds of some of the world's top business consultants. In March last year, John Hagel and Arthur Armstrong from McKinsey & Co. published 'Net Gain'. Subtitled 'expanding markets through virtual communities', the book had an immediate impact on those American business leaders paying attention to the world of e-commerce. Essentially, Net Gain argues that power will dramatically shift from manufacturers and retailers to consumers. Consequently building customer relationships using traditional models is no longer enough. Corporations have to start building 'virtual communities' to encourage customer loyalty. Nobody really knows what a commerce-based virtual community looks like, but pointers can be found in the non-profit sectors, where on-line services have long been used to encourage information sharing and discussion, transcending the boundaries of geography and time. New Opportunities for Co-ops
The vibrant worker co-op sector is looking beyond its traditional employee-only structures, to ways in which customers gain a direct stake too - and much of the discussion is taking place on the Internet.
The question then becomes how far might some corporations be prepared to go in engaging with, and transferring power to, the customer. It would be ironic indeed if the new era of on-line, electronic commerce, led to a resurgence of interest in a 150 year old, socialist, business model.
For debate about new worker co-op structures join the Co-opNet discussion list run by Total Coverage, a Southampton based co-op. The archives are at: http://www.poptel.net/links/co-opnet/
Benchmarking the Human Resources at the Welsh Co-operatives.
by Said Al-Hasan and Michael Haines, Welsah Institute of Rural Studies, University Wales, Aberystwyth
Benchmarking is the search for industry best practices that lead to superior performance (Camp, 1989). Benchmarking is therefore concerned with gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage over your competitors, achieved externally by satisfying customer needs and internally by having efficient and responsive organisation. The driving force behind any business is customer satisfaction and the challenge facing a co-operative today is how to keep customers. A co-operative can no longer depend on the traditional assumption of member loyalty or because it delivers social value it is not in the business of competing with the private sector. All markets are becoming extremely competitive and survival depends on becoming best of the best in delivering the service to customers.
Any organisation delivers its services through the deployment of human resources, and one of the challenges facing a co-operative is how to deliver services through its front-line staff. It is obviously very important to decide what to deliver, but it is perhaps more important to decide how and by whom. Benchmarking is not an end in itself, it is rather a process by which certain objectives can be achieved i.e. survival and development, it is based on the 3Cs strategic triangle company, customers and competitors.
Our research examines the perceptions that Welsh co-operatives managers have of their customers needs and compares them with customers actual needs (external benchmarking), this has been published (Haines, AlHasan, 1997). We have also undertaken an internal benchmarking in the two largest agricultural requisite co-operatives in Wales, examining staff perception of their senior managers and the co-operatives commitment and understanding of the needs of their customers. We investigated various aspects, such as resources, systems and procedures, the general organisational climate and the way staff relate to each others. There were several gaps between the perception of staff and the perception of customers, and also internally between staff and their top management. For example in one case lack of communications was found to be a major problems, in another people motivation and management, and processes were major weaknesses.
These issues are the main theme of our paper, in which we identify the major internal weaknesses of these co-operatives and the courses of action needed to identify priorities and cure problems. Benchmarking will help co-operatives focus on competitiveness and how it can be increased. It will also assist co-operatives to retain customer's through investing in staff and understanding their needs and wants. Co-operatives need to view benchmarking as a long term, proactive, integrated, flexible process and the findings of our research of our research confirm the urgent need for co-operatives to adopt benchmarking as a strategic issue.
Ideology of the world-wide institution of co-operatives and its special terminology as a reflection of culture-specific conceptualizations.
by Irmeli Helin M.A. B.Sc. (Econ.), University of Helsinki, Institute for Co-operative Studies, Department of Linguistics, P.O.Box 4 FIN-00014 University of Helsinki
Some 200 years ago, the modern co-operative movement was started in England and France. During the 19th century, its ideology was spread over Europe and overseas. Nowadays, as we all know, the co-operative movement is well-known all over the world. Since the very beginning, the movement has adopted principles and values still accepted and emphasized by co-operatives in different countries and societies. The same seven principles have recently been repeated - in a slightly modernized wording - in the Statement on the Co-operative Identity of the ICA during the centennial in Manchester 1995. However, if we look at the terms used in various languages for, e.g. 1) the institution and 2) its members, a variety of both shared and different semantic features can be found. This paper discusses whether the terms used for these two concepts, and some of the most central terms used in co-operative organisations, reflect the ideas of co-operatives in each country, or the relation of their members to the institution. How much does the wording of the organization influence the way members conceptualize it in different languages? Is it relevant to turn to the etymology of words taken up as terms of a special institution to define the ideas and values of its members? Are the language specific gaps filled with common international terms or new formations? Does the language of the world-wide co-operative movement really give evidence for the existence of culture-specific conceptualizations?
The change of the Mentality of the Personnel, Especially of the Managers, an Essential Precondition to the Development of the Handicraft Cooperatives in Romania.
by Dr. Eng. Vasile Virgil Feier, UCECOM, Romania
The paper emphasizes the importance of the people's mentality in the
context of the transition to the market economy in the Eastern and Central
European countries. Since the mentality is defined as a structural component
of the thinking there exists in this a higher inertia to the change compared
to the other elements of the thinking such as language, utilised methods,
schemes of the elaboration and adoption of the decisions etc. The paper
insists on the main factors considered to have an influence over the managers'
mentality as well as on the way to determine their intensity and the existing
possibilities of changing them. Finally it formulates a conclusion on how
to influence the mentality in a desired direction. The knowledge of the
various factors which can exert a certain influence over the people's mentality
does not mean only the administration of some tests or battery of tests,
but a more ample range of interventions. Because this matter proves to
be a particular importance it has been elaborated a test in connection
to the employment of the managers and to their co-operation with the personnel
within the managed enterprise. The paper presents the test as well as the
evaluation table of the results.
Knowledge and Attitudes to Co-operatives.
by Maria Fregidou-Malama, University College Gaumlivle-Sandviken, Institution for Economics
This study concerns knowledge about - and attitudes to - Co-operative enterprises in Sweden. The aim of the study is to identify the knowledge and attitudes to co-operatives in different groups of people and organisations and their consequences on co-operative development. With that as a start point, the explanation that the actors gave on what the knowledge and attitudes are based on and how this affect co-operatives conditions is analysed. A qualitative method of assessing case studies has been used. This method is descriptive and explorative by character. Actually, I started by studying important actors and related information materials about co-operatives. Then I interviewed twenty four persons in different organisations. All participants were interviewed with the general interview guide approach.
The findings of the study illustrate that there are inadequate knowledge and negative attitudes toward Co-operatives. There are also shortfalls on the aims of co-operatives and their main characteristics. It is specially the economic issue of co-operatives that is ignored. Co-operatives issues are little known or unknown in educational schedules of public schools. People perceive co-operatives not as firms but as political or social entities. This type of perception affects, in my opinion, the development of co-operatives all together.
Overall, the study indicates that attitudes to co-operatives as a phenomenon are positive. The negative attitudes are based on characteristics of the well established co-operatives. Education on co-operative business trends is marginalised in primary school, in secondary school and even in universities. Information materials released by different authorities/organisations manifest unfair views about co-operatives as organisations. People also think that co-operatives are not interested in economic results. This, in my opinion, is because co-operatives are required to use the same definitions as other types of private business firms to make the desire of comparison easier. Co-operation between co-operatives and state authorities and other organisations is an important part of a strategy to create good conditions and initiate knowledge and positive attitudes towards co-operatives. In this respect, the State can influence peoples' knowledge on co-operatives by making the co-operative alternative visible in the education system and by presenting better statistical data on co-operatives. In that way it can affect even attitudes to co-operatives. For this reason it is particularly important to make the co-operative alternative visible. Better statistical data on established and new co-operatives, on their possibilities, and their activities and operations can improve the spread and creation of new co-operative business ventures and even rise more job opportunities.
Key words: Knowledge, Attitudes, Co-operatives, Sweden.
Making Services of the Credit Unions Effective.
by Dr. Ganesh P. Gupta and Mrs. Sudha R. Sahu, Maharshi Vedvyas Foundation for Studies in Co-operation, India
Credit Unions are the organizations for people's welfare. Welfare is much when the economic gains are higher. To plan and promote economic gains credit unions are need of the day. The people who avail services of the Credit Unions are the person mostly of low socio-economic means and the middle income as well as low income group. Their need is to meet the family needs, and day-to-day business needs. People are scattered here and there. They are so engrossed in their activity that they do not find enough time to consult between the group and are left stranded. Here is the point where Credit Unions' need is felt. And the Credit Unions at this juncture have to steer their services in such a way that they are effective to generate sufficient fund for welfare of the people they work for. In the full length paper, strategies of Credit Unions to make their services effective will be presented and discussed.
The Creation of Mutual Guaranties in Greece.
by Simeon Karafolas, Ministry of Development of Greece, Athens
Despite the long tradition of mutual guaranties in several European countries, in Greece the legislative framework was first introduced in 1995 by the law 2367/95. Up to now this new institution has not been in force due to the absence of a strong initiative by the Greek State. This policy has also limited initiatives expressed by other parts such as the Chambers of Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises and co-operative and commercial banks. The limited interest resulted to the insufficiency of the legislative framework which constituted a major reason for the non development of mutual guaranties.
A new initiative has been undertaken in 1997 by the Ministry of Development
according to a program financed by the Greek State, the European Union
and with the participation of the private sector expressed essentially
by the Chambers of Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises and co-operative
banks. According to this initiative it has been decided:
- as a pilot program, to grant a part of the initial capital of four companies of mutual guaranties
- to create a Counter Guaranty Fund, participating with 90% to the initial capital
- to improve the legislative framework in order to permit the creation and development of this new financial institution The paper presents:
- the policy undertaken currently in Greece regarding the establishment and development of the new financial institution of mutual guaranties in Greece
- the way mutual guaranties are going to be organised in Greece considering the companies of mutual guaranties and the Counter Guaranty Fund
- the new legislative framework regarding the mutual guaranties and the Counter Guaranty Fund.
Renewing Membership Basis for Raising Investment and Patronage.
Akira Kurimoto, Japan Society for Co-operative Studies
These decades we have witnessed the repeated failures of the outstanding consumer co-ops which have been seen as the viable models in North America, Europe and Japan. The Consumers' Co-op of Berkeley had been renowned as the most innovative and the largest co-op in the United States, but degraded in 1980's and finally collapsed in 1989. The Coop Dortmund has resisted the move towards transformation to the joint stock company and maintained the co-operative status, but could not sustain itself in the intensified competition accelerated by depressed economy. The Co-op Sapporo, the second largest co-op in Japan, which had weathered the crisis in 1970, is facing the financial difficulty again. This paper considers various reasons attributable to these failures. The Board and Management are responsible for its decision-making and execution. It argues the business expansion without consolidated members' base is one of the most important reasons. Members are perceived to be the principal stakeholders of the co-operative and hold the functions as investors, users and administrators (principle of identity). Members' participation in the administration through voting and representative bodies has been the central issue in the democratic control, however more attention should be given to their roles as the capital provider and the main user. Members' potential in these fields should be thoroughly explored. Finally this paper describes some attempts to renew members' base; re-registering and communicating with members; recruiting and educating young members; listening to members and involving them in business planning and operations. We should identify those good practices, analyze and disseminate them.
The Strengthening of Decentralization and Local Autonomy under Globalization
and the Seikatsu Club Consumers' Co-operative Union's Aim to Create Local
Cooperative Communities: Ideas and Practice.
by Shigeki Maruyama
1. Achievements and Problems of the Japanese Consumer Cooperative Movement.
In terms of quantity, the Japanese consumer co-operative movement has made impressive gains: there are 16.45 million members, organized into 646 co-ops, which have an annual total salves volume of Y3.281 trillion (according to 1996 statistics). However, in recent years there have been cases of co-ops experiencing financial difficulties resulting from excessive investment, giving false financial reports to their members using embellished accounting, or being critized for having too much power concentrated in the leadership, and there have been accounts by whistle blowers of irregularities and corruption involving leaders. Such problems have no place within the consumer co-operative movement, and must be rectified.
2. Overview of the Seikatsu Club Consumers Co-operative Union.
The Seikatsu Club Consumers Co-operative Union is a member of the Japan Consumers' of Co-operative Union (JCCU). It is also a co-operative which does not own stores, but instead relies mainly on joint purchases by members. Groups called "han", made up of between 5 and 12 members who live in the same neighbourhood, constitute the basic unit for orders, receiving goods, debates and activities. The co-operative carries out joint purchasing, directly from producers, of foods which are safe to people and to the environment. There are roughly 240,000 members, and the total annual sales amount to Y70 billion. Thus, Seikatsu Club is not a very big group, but the amount of investment and purchases by individual members is one of the highest in the country, and is more than twice the average of other co-ops. In 1989, Seikatsu Club Consumers Co-operative Union was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, which is known as the "alternative Nobel Prize." The reason for the award was that we were carrying out thoroughgoing ecological, independent and autonomous management at the level of everyday living, and that the members, who are overwhelmingly women, are changing their own lifestyles in order to conserve resources and contribute to environmental protection. In addition, in 1995 we were chosen by the United Nations, as a commemorative event of its 50th anniversary, as one of 50 international communities which were seen as contributing to the development of humankind. The reason for this award was that we, through a unique activity of not using anything that harms people or the environment, and by linking consumers directly to producers, are contributing to environmental conservation of communities and to sustainable development.
3. The Subdivision/Decentralisation of Organizations and the Practice
In Japan, many consumer co-ops are carrying out restructuring in order to make their operations more efficient and increase their competitiveness. In the midst of this, Seikatsu Club is carrying out its own unique restructuring. In order to ensure that the will of the membership is expressed directly, and that they can really practice democracy, it is boldly sub-dividing the organization with the purpose of achieving autonomy and self-sufficiency. The organization within the Tokyo metropolitan region, which is made up of 56,000 members, has been divided into six, and the organization in Kanagawa Prefecture, of 48,000 was split up into 11 groups. In Tokyo, there are further plans to split the groups again in accordance with the local government jurisdictions, and when this is realized we will see the emergence of several dozen organizations with memberships of several thousand people.
4. Organizing Local Councils of Consumer Co-operatives.
In order to give support to the autonomous efforts of members who have goals they want to pursue, Seikatsu Club has organized many co-operatives for working, known as "workers' collectives", in the areas of production, services and welfare. These are workers' co-ops, where the people involved invest, work and manage things themselves through a process of direct democracy. This movement and type of organization represents a putting into practice of one of the priority goals for consumer cooperations adopted at the ICA's 27th Convention, "Building workers' co-operatives". In addition, Seikatsu Club has organized many political groups known as "Seikatsusha Network Movements", which aim to propose policies at the local government level, and through these networks many women have been elected into local assemblies. It has also organized many practical groups working in the area of social welfare, which are developing activities to independently support local citizens in areas where the policies of the central and local governments are insufficient. With the cooperation of these organizations and movements, it is organizing local consumer cooperative councils at the level of local government, which are working to support the development and autonomy of communities and to facilitate exchanges of information. One good example of these many experiments is that taking place in Machida City, Tokyo, and I would like to introduce these activities and the philosophy behind them. The following is a brief summary. In the midst of the current situation, when urbanization and globalization are moving forward, and an economic theory which puts priority on efficiency is spreading, people are cut apart and isolated, and we are losing autonomy, self sufficiency, and collectivism. To counter this situation, people living in communities are organizing themselves politically, economically and socially to propose concrete policies and actions to achieve reforms to guarantee ecology, autonomy and self-sufficiency, and to act on these plans. these are ways of implementing the resolution of "co-operative in the year 2000" proposed and adopted at the ICA's 27th Convention, as well as to implement one of the priority goals, of building a society of consumer co-operative communities. This kind of self-aware efforts have helped to highlight the difference between consumer co-operatives and commercial capital, and have given courage to people.
Members Satisfaction and Loyalty of Co-operative Organisations. Building
A National Co-op Barometer.
by Mr Roald Nes
The paper examines the theoretical and empirical relationship between
members satisfaction and loyalty towards their own co-operative organisations.
We test a theoretical structural model of what influence members satisfaction
and loyalty using structural equation modelling. Data is a national survey
from 3800 Norwegian meat producers. The results is a first step in making
an instrument to build a national Coop-barometer. The results show that
we can explain 60% of members loyalty by overall satisfaction, trust, co-op
as an organisational form and social pressure. Among these variables co-op
as an organisational form is the far most important variable. Satisfaction
is explained by the variables price, trust, external extension, information,
co-op principles, plant centralisation and coop as an organisational form
with price and trust as the most important. 75% of the variation in satisfaction
is explained by these variables. We also find differences between groups
of members with representatives/non-representatives as the most important.
Representatives are both more satisfied and loyal than non-representatives.
Finally we have examined the members utility function and find that price
(24%) and future security (19%) is the most important factors. Agency theoretical
problems in co-operatives.
by Jerker Nilsson, Department of Economics, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences,
The Survival of The Co-operative Model in a Competition Context.
by Dr. Laura Goacutemez Urquijo and Marta de los Riacute;os Antildeacuten, Universidad de Deusto, aptdo. 1, 48080 BILBAO EMAIL: lgomez@.der.deusto.es This analysis is focused on the financial problems of co-operatives in order to compete with other share capitals in the market. With this aim, we study the main characteristics that, according Spanish co-operative legislation, imply a hindrance for capital formation. The need of more flexible models to get financial means is shown in the evolution of the legal frame, specially in the Basque Country autonomous legislation that includes some specific instruments trying to solve these deficiencies. As relevant example of the capital formation problems, we study the case of Eroski S.Coop., one of the most outstanding co-operatives in Spain, belonging to Mondragon Co-operative Corporation. Eroski S. Coop. shows the way in which a co-operative is limited in its expansion due to the limited resources of the members. The need to compete with other share capitals and the main European distribution companies has leaded Eroski to a fast growth with branches all through Spain. To face this expansion, Eroski has settled a complex structure of share capital companies in order to get the external financial support needed. This interesting and unique processes spotlights the difficulties to compete in the market maintaining the "strict co-operative way" and arises some problems concerning the maintenance of the co-operative principles and values.
Latvian Farmers Attitudes to Co-operative Organising .
The paper is based on a research project in Latvia. The purpose of the
project was to investigate the farmers sentiments and attitudes concerning
co-operative organising.5% of them were judged to be carriers of rather
strong co-operative ethical values. And very few indeed, judged by their
ethical values, opposed the co-operative «ideal model». But
still, our conclusion is that the members more view the organisation as
a strategic alliance, based on some agreed upon rules and norms, rather
than based on some strong, special ethical values.