Guest Editorial

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive, Plunkett Foundation

Couchman, 2010
Table of Contents

Refereed articles

A co-operative path to food security in the UK

Richard Bickle and Molly Scott Cato, pp. 4-15.

The issue of food security is rising rapidly up the political agenda, especially in Europe. The broad parameters of the EU were developed in the immediate post-war years and, consequently, much of its early energy in the area of agriculture was devoted to supporting farmers and maximising food production. This led to overproduction and a lack of attention to environmental standards in agriculture. More recently, a number of ecological and economic issues have combined to threaten supplies of food to some of Europe’s developed nations, particularly the UK. This paper begins by outlining the nature of the problem facing the UK in terms of food supply. It sets the debate within the framework of climate change and resource insecurity, indicating that the UK’s policy of trading financial services in return for food bought on the global market seems increasingly vulnerable. The paper then moves on to consider the role of co-operatives in food production and distribution and identifies the dominance of food in the history and current status of the co-operative movement in the UK. By way of conclusion, the paper questions how the co-operative economic model may be able to make a timely contribution to underpinning food security in the UK.

Bickle and Scott Cato, 2010

Latvian co-operatives: Agents of vertical co-ordination? 

Timea Török, Jon H Hanf and Zanete Gruzina, pp. 16-23.

Vertical coordination has become increasingly important in the agri-food business in countries such as Latvia, making the use of contractual arrangements such as marketing and production contracts more common. In this work, we analyse the use of these contracts in the Latvian agri-food sector. Because of the Latvian dualistic production structure, which consists of more small farms and fewer large farms, we pay particular attention to co-operatives in this region and evaluate whether co-operatives can act as agents of change by linking small farms to vertically coordinated chains.

Török, Hanf and Gruzina, 2010

Member commitment in olive oil co-operatives: Cause and consequences 

María Carmen Ruiz Jiménez, Elia García Martí and María Jesús Hernández Ortiz, pp. 24-35.

Commitment has an important place in organisational behaviour literature due to the consequences for business efficiency. In this paper we study co-operatives that produce olive oil and the commitment characteristics of their members. Based on the Meyer and Allen (1991) and Sharma and Irving (2005) models, our objective is to analyse the commitment shown by members of olive oil co-operatives, the attitudes behind each type of commitment, and the consequences of the behaviour shown by members. Our work is motivated by the lack of studies on these types of democratically governed organisations. We use a qualitative methodology to make an empirical study through interviews with members of olive oil co-operatives. In the study we show the differing perspectives of members in relation with their continuance in the co-operative, and we analyse the commitment displayed by these members. We present a commitment model for co-operatives that could be a guide for future research on co-operatives. These results are an initial effort to understand the consequences of the commitment shown by co-operative members.

Jiménez, Martí and Jesús Hernández Ortiz, 2010

Short articles

Community owned village shops – a better form of business 

Mike Perry and James Alcock, pp. 37-45.

Community-owned shops have been a recent success story for the UK co-operative movement, with a rapid increase in numbers over the past decade and especially in the past two years. The Plunkett Foundation is the only nationally based organisation that supports community shops in the UK and in this article two of the key staff offering this support present data on the recent history of the community shop movement. The article includes a brief history followed by data on issues such as growth rates, turnover rates, products and services, funding, and an analysis of how the shops work as businesses. The authors draw out a series of key success factors explaining why some community shops succeed while others fail. The article concludes with some thought about the future for community shops in the UK.

Perry and Alcock, 2010

“Y’all bon appetit, you hear?”: Lessons from the Oklahoma Food Co-operative

Cornelia Lambert, pp. 46-49.

Not even a decade old, The Oklahoma Food Cooperative (OFC) grosses an average $80,000 (US) a month for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. A review of the OFC’s planning stages reveals its similarity to the recommendations of the Toolkit at, a basic outline of the steps needed to form a food co-operative. In particular, the story of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative expresses how crucial it is for a wide variety of people to become involved as early as possible in the creation of a co-operative. Despite its location in the conservative heartland of America, the OFC creates a space for progressives from all political backgrounds to unite in order to support agriculture and promote ‘eating local’.

Lambert, 2010

Liberty, equality, boot repairs: An obituary for Ian Pyper

Richard Bickle, pp. 50-51.

In memory of Ian Pyper, Chair of UKSCS and editor of the Journal for Co-operative Studies, 2002-2005.

Bickle, 2010

Book reviews

A life of Sir Horace Plunkett: Visionary, pioneer, social reformer and humanitarian. By Maurice Colbert.

Reviewed by Martin Large, pp. 52-53.

Horace Plunkett in America: An Irish aristocrat on the Wyoming Range. By Lawrence M Woods.

Reviewed by Jade Bashford, pp. 53-55.

Consumerism and the co-operative movement in modern British history: Taking Stock. Edited by Lawrence Black and Nicole Robertson.

Reviewed by Edgar Parnell, pp. 55-56

Fair and square: Ethical shopping matters. Compiled and edited by Ruth Bergan, p. 56.

Reviews, 2010
UK Society for Co-operative Studies is registered in England and Wales as a charitable incorporated organisation Number 1175295. Our registered office is Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AS.
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