Cooperation Works! (1996)

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    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA
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                         December, 1996
          (Source: Review of International Co-operation
                    Vol.89, No.4/1996, pp.59-60)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Rod Nilsestuen