2025 Special issue: Co-operative futures in China
Call for papers
Guest editors: Adrian Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Management, Department of Management, University of Exeter, and Hao Dong, Lecturer in Operations and Project Management, University of Southampton.
Aims of the special issue
Co-operatives have a rich history in China, and this call seeks to explore the various dimensions of co-operative development, governance, and their potential to align with the global co-operative identity as outlined by the International Co-operative Alliance. We invite scholars, researchers, practitioners, and experts to contribute original research and insights that shed light on the multifaceted landscape of co-operatives in contemporary China.
Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the Journal in 2025.
|30 November 2023||Deadline for extended abstracts (1,000-2,000 words) for academic articles and short papers; outline suggestions for think pieces (500-800 words, or in full).|
|31 January 2024||Initial decisions and invitations for submissions of full papers|
|31 July 2024||Deadline for submission of full papers|
Abstracts and submissions should be emailed as a word document with ‘Submission for JCS special issue’ in the subject line, and include in your email the type of submission being made (research article, short paper/practitioner paper, think piece).
Authors for final papers are asked to check the Journal's Submission Guidelines
Co-operative Futures in China
It is an astonishing fact that nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers (n. 230 million) are located in China. Co-operatives currently provide a range of benefits to smallholder farmers in China and are a key component in economic development initiatives and programs (Liang & Han, 2023; Ma et al., 2022). In 2007, there were 26,000 formally registered co-operatives in China, rising to 2.17 million in 2018 (Wilmsen et al., 2023).
The lives of 100 million farmers, representing 47% of China’s rural population are touched to a greater or lesser extent by their membership of a co-operative organisation. The rapid growth of co-operatives in China since the passing of the Farmers’ Specialised Co-operative (FSC) law in 2007 (revised in 2017) is distinctive and raises uncertainties regarding the future of co-operative organising and organisations.
The majority of these co-operatives resemble private- or investor-owned companies, with core shareholding concentrated in the hands of founder members and control typically dominated by a Chairman. The characteristics of contemporary co-operatives in China raise many questions about the co-operative identity of these organisations and the trajectory of their development (Dong, 2019), not least the influence of path dependencies established by the state-policy nexus. Are co-operatives the Trojan horse for a new generation of elite landlords (Wilmsen et. al. 2023), or are other futures possible? Is the scaling of farmer co-operatives in China economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable (Colombo et al., 2023; Li et al., 2023)? What innovative forms of organisation and organising hold potential for more just forms of co-operation?
Potential topics for contributions to a special issue of the Journal of Co-operative Studies might include (but are not limited to):
- Factors that may contribute to Chinese co-operatives engaging more closely with the Co-operative Identity outlined by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), including the Values and Principles of the co-operative movement (Wan et al., 2023).
- The role of kinship, culture, social networks, and demographic trends.
- Co-operative growth, post-growth and processes of scaling.
- Diversification beyond farming and food production.
- Solidarity economy, mutualism and rural development.
- The role of patron-client relationships.
- Elite capture, co-optation, coercion, and dispossession.
- How co-operatives in China perceive and act upon sustainability issues (e.g., social, environmental and governance challenges)?
- Diversity and inclusivity within their distinctive governance arrangements (e.g., women, migrants, child labour etc.).
- Opportunities and/or threats arising from legal or technical innovations (Liu & Zhang, 2023). Geographical differences in co-operative development and/or governance (e.g., provincial dynamics, North-South differences, local networks etc.) (Li et al., 2023).
- Co-operatives within the bounds of new state capitalism (Su & Lim, 2023).
- Local embeddedness and forms of community-based co-operative organisation.
- How co-operatives negotiate conflicting institutional logics internally and externally?
References and bibliography
Colombo, L. A., Bailey, A. R., & Gomes, M. V. P. (2023). Scaling in a post-growth era: Learning from Social Agricultural Cooperatives. Organization, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/13505084221147480
Dong, H. (2019). Contemporary agricultural co-operatives in China: A multi-case comparison of tea co-operatives and their supply chains. [PhD thesis, University of Exeter]. Open Research Exeter. https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39740
Li, F., Zhao, W., & Yeh, E. T. (2023). The locally managed agrarian transition in China: Land shareholding cooperatives and the agricultural co-management system in Chongzhou, Sichuan. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 64(6), 732-757. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2022.2071749
Liang, Q., & Han, Z. (2023). Farmer cooperatives in China: Frontiers in development and research. In M. S. Elliott & M. A. Boland (Eds.). Handbook of Research on Cooperatives and Mutuals (pp. 406-421). Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781802202618
Liu, X., & Zhang, X. (2023). The impact of the digital economy on high-quality development of specialized farmers’ cooperatives: Evidence from China. Sustainability, 15(10), 7958. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15107958
Ma, W., Zheng, H., & Yuan, P. (2022). Impacts of cooperative membership on banana yield and risk exposure: Insights from China. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 73(2), 564-579. https://doi.org/10.1111/1477-9552.12465
Su, X., & Lim, K. F. (2023). Capital accumulation, territoriality, and the reproduction of state sovereignty in China: Is this ‘new’ state capitalism? Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 55(3), 697-715. https://doi.org/10.1177/0308518X221093643
Wan, Q., Micheels, E., & Fulton, M. (2023). 24. Social relations and cooperative development in rural China. In M. S. Elliott & M. A. Boland (Eds.). Handbook of Research on Cooperatives and Mutuals (pp. 389-405). Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781802202618
Wilmsen, B., Rogers, S., Duan, Y., & Wang, J-H. Z. (2023). Farmer cooperatives and the limits of agricultural reform in rural Hubei. The China Journal, 89, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1086/722258