Table of Contents


Peer reviewed articles

A framework for developing co-operative benchmarks

Daphne Rixon and Fiona Duguid, pp. 5-16


The objective of this research is to identify a framework to develop multi-sectoral co-operative benchmarks. This is accomplished by first reviewing the literature on benchmarking, followed by the scant literature on co-operative performance reporting and benchmarking specifically. From this review the small number of resources and tools that directly relate to co-operative benchmarking are analysed. While these resources and tools have been developed with specific motivations in mind, they do not meet the requirements for a co-operative benchmarking or performance measurement tool. This study is important as it begins to address the lack of co-operative specific social, environmental, and co-operative benchmarks through the development of a co-operative benchmarking framework.

Keywords: benchmarks; co-operative; performance

Social responsible behaviour of credit co-operatives - A replication study of an Austrian example

Dietmar Roessl and Gregor Rabong, pp. 17-26


The term “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) refers to stakeholders’ demands on firms to act socially responsibly. In an exploratory research project from 2008, a stratified sample of 3,000 customers of an Austrian credit co-operative was questioned. This study was replicated in 2016 to uncover possible changes in the perception of CSR measures and how they are linked to the generation of membership value over time. The data from 2016 continues to suggest that members of Austrian credit co-operatives are not only interested in the co-operative’s products and services, but also in other, partial benefits. Members are interested in the co-operative itself because they can identify with the values conveyed by the social and regional engagement of their co-operative, but it becomes increasingly difficult to convey these values by CSR measures and to really reach out to clients.

Keywords: CSR; credit co-operatives; Austria

Does organisation matter? A comparison of co-operative and ex-co-operative cellars in the new era of South African wine.

Joachim Ewert and John Hanf, pp. 27-38


Since the mid-1990s the number of South African wine co-operatives has been reduced by two‑thirds. Some of it is due to mergers, but others have converted to companies, partly because they are convinced that this is an organisational model superior to that of co-operatives. By converting, these cellars hoped to free themselves from the classical constraints suffered by co-operatives. But have these hopes actually been realised? This is the central question of the paper. In trying to answer it the paper draws on case studies of 14 co-operatives and ex-co-operatives conducted between 2014-2016. The analysis relies mainly on data and information supplied by cellar staff during in-depth interviews. In our assessment we translate ‘performance’ into financial stability and for this purpose we use mainly two indicators, viz. capital ratio and cash flow. The cases are analysed against the backdrop of co-operative theory, changes in the South African wine industry over the last 20 years, and the particular nature of South African co-operatives

Keywords: co-operative; wine cellars; South Africa

Short papers

Policy supports for co-operative Policy supports for co-operative development: learning from co-op hotspots

James K. Rowe, Ana Maria Peredo, Megan Sullivan, and John Restakis, pp. 39-42


The international co-operative movement has prioritised supportive legal frameworks as a key constituent of co-operative growth (ICA, 2013). Unfortunately, there is not a robust literature on co-operative policy to help meet this need. Supportive legal frameworks for co-operatives are a “deeply under-researched area” (Adeler, 2014, p. 50). We recently conducted a review of the existing research and found that despite its dearth, the literature points to six primary forms of policy support that have been successfully deployed internationally to support co-operative growth: co-operative recognition, financing, sectoral financing, preferential taxation, supportive infrastructure, and preferential procurement. The most developed examples of these policies are found in areas of dense co‑operative concentration, or “co-op hot spots”: the Basque region of Spain, Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy, and Quebec, Canada. This article accounts for how these six policy forms appear in the co-operative dense regions. The aim of this analysis is to facilitate further research in the understudied area of co-operative policy, and to clarify policy successes for organisers in the co-operative movement interested in emulating them.

Keywords: policy; co-operative growth; co-op hotspots

Twelve cases of early co-operation and mutuality

Ed Mayo, pp. 43-51


While the origins of the modern co-operative model are well known, it is possible to situate that story within a longer set of tradition and practice around mutuality. Drawing on a looser definition than that of the modern co-operative business, of people working together equitably as members of a formal and open body that exists to meet their economic and wider needs, a range of initiatives across cultures and centuries emerge from relevant sources as possible cases of early co-operation and mutuality. This paper sets out twelve examples as illustrations of this.  The limits to an exercise such as this are considerable. While there may be evidence of the function or the rules governing the activities concerned in these cases, it is harder to find evidence of a culture of mutuality. The names used for different initiatives are varied and to look for consistency by applying modern labels retrospectively can be misleading. However, as a tentative conclusion, forms of co‑operation appear both adaptable and capable of reinvention. If true, then today’s co-operatives are perhaps expressive of a pattern of mutuality that is deep and recurrent in the ways that people choose to organise over time.

Keywords: early co-operation; mutuality; case examples

New Developments: Doing it ourselves the co-operative way

Andrew Bibby, pp. 52-53

Co-operation in action: The Edinburgh student housing co-operative as a pedagogical space

Teresa Macias and Pablo Pérez Ruiz, pp. 54-57

Book Reviews

Empowering electricity - Co-operatives, sustainability and power station reform in Canada.

By Julie L. MacArthur. Reviewed by Richard Scott, pp. 58-59

Ten lectures on co-operative law.

By Hans-H. Münkner. Reviewed by Ian Adderley, pp. 60-61

Creative Commons License
All works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, subject to a 6-month embargo from date of publication in the Journal

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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