Table of Contents

Peer reviewed papers

Worker control in worker co-operatives? 

Roger Spear and Alan Thomas, pp. 6-19

This paper (presented at ICA Research Conference, Paris, May, 2015) is based on research conducted in the 1980s. It has been updated, and addresses the timeless questions: if worker co‑operatives embody the principle “Labour hires Capital”, does this mean that in co-operatives workers are able to control their own jobs? Can new work relations be constructed from grassroots in a democratic fashion? It is based on five case studies, which present possibly the most challenges to a positive response to these questions. The paper develops a theory based analytical framework embracing three different levels of control, and identifying four factors limiting worker influence: expert power, imported rationalities and expectations, external financing, market relations. Given these “worst case” scenarios, the findings demonstrate achievements regarding work organisation, different forms of supervision, and terms and conditions of employment.

Spear and Thomas, 2015.

Co-operatives with multi-stakeholder membership: Learning from the experience of an early British experiment.

Andrew Bibby, pp. 20-30.

Recent years have seen increasing interest in the co-operative movement in the concept of ‘multi-stakeholder’ co-operatives, open to different classes of co-operative membership. This approach, while having attractive advantages in engaging all those with an interest in the co-operative’s business success, also requires mechanisms to reconcile the potentially different interests of different stakeholder groups. This paper explores the challenges of multi-stakeholder co-operatives today by reference to a successful nineteenth century British producer co-operative, Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Co-operative, which chose to extend membership beyond the workers employed to include external investors and consumer co-operative societies. Based on newly undertaken research into this co-operative (Bibby, 2015), the paper considers how the co-operative had to face and resolve issues of establishing a fair rate of return for investors and of deciding how the profits generated should be shared between different stakeholder groups.

Bibby, 2015.

The engagement of young members in the governance of housing co-operatives

Justin Ellerby and Catherine Leviten-Reid, pp. 31-41.

This research explores the engagement of young members in the governance of Canadian housing co-operatives. Through in-depth interviews with young members, other housing residents, and building managers, it was found that the involvement of young members in governance was considered to be important because of the new perspectives and approaches young members brought to their co-operatives, and also to support organisational continuity. Importantly, it was also found that young members developed capabilities (such as technical skills and self-confidence) and social ties through their governance engagement. Challenges to fostering engagement were also identified, which included that the duration of youths’ continued residence was sometimes uncertain or limited, that governance challenges within the co-operative generally could inhibit the engagement of members of any age, and that a lack of shared space could undermine a sense of community among members. Suggestions for facilitating involvement included fostering good governance practices generally and initiating strategies to provide formal recognition of young people’s involvement in boards and committees. 

Ellerby & Leviten-Reid, 2015.

Short papers

“This is Our Money” – The struggle to start a co-operative bank in Israel

Yifat Solel, pp. 42-45.

This is Our Money” was one of the leading slogans called out in the social protest that took over Israel’s streets in the summer of 2011. The social protest brought thousands of people to tent encampments around the country and hundreds of thousands to demonstrations against the outrageous cost of living and the deteriorating state provided services  — consequences of a decades old Neo-Liberal policies joint with a highly centralised market. The Israeli banking system is highly centralised — there are five major banking groups that hold 93% of the market, three of which hold 72% of it. The banks operate in accordance to their strength — the costs of banking services are very high and many households and small businesses suffer from lack of accessibility to credit.  One of the outcomes of the protest was a new co-operative movement, within it an initiative to start a co-operative bank in Israel for the first time. It was obvious that a change could not emerge without challenging the system and that the only fruitful way to do so is through constructing a substantial alternative — one that operates in favour of public interests, owned by its customers, not for maximisation of profits — a co-operative. The OFEK co-operative society started in 2012 setting a goal of starting a co-operative bank.

Solel, 2015.

Book reviews

A City of Light — Socialism, Chartism and Co-operation — Nottingham 1844. By Christopher Richardson.

Reviewed by Jim Craigen, pp. 46-47.

Craigen, 2015.
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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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