PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES
Co-operative Principles and Values: Does the talk match the walk?
Shahid Ghauri, Tim Mazzarol, and Geoffrey N. Soutar, pp. 7-22
Co-operatives are defined around a set of principles and values. If these are misunderstood, ignored or dismissed, the co-operative risks departing from its purpose and resembles or demutualises into an investor-owned firm. Adherence to co-operative principles and values can strengthen active members’ participation or diminish this if they are ignored. In some jurisdictions, a co-operative’s failure to adhere to these principles may place the entity at odds with co-operative law. Members and executive managers from four large Australian co-operatives were asked about their understanding of and adherence to co-operative principles and values. While the executive managers were aware of the seven co-operative principles, only one understood the six values. Members’ awareness of principles and values was much less. Only five of the seven principles appeared to be actively followed and alternative values were used when identifying organisational values. The implications of these findings are discussed.
The power of co-operatives: Converting monopolists into self-regulating and efficient organisations.
Morris Altman, pp. 23-32
The conditions under which co-operative monopolies can be self-regulating in the sense of behaving similarly (at a minimum) to an efficiently regulated monopoly are modelled in this paper. I argue that an employee-owned or workers’ co-operative monopoly can be expected to operate similarly to an investor-owned monopoly generating relative high prices and lower levels of output and producing deadweight losses. But such a co-operative would be relatively more x-efficient because of its incentive environment. I argue, however, that a multi-stakeholder co-operative, incorporating the preferences of consumers and other stakeholders, can be expected to behave similarly (at a minimum) to an efficiently regulated monopoly, whilst generating a higher level of x-efficiency than the investor-owned monopoly and a more equitable distribution of income. Critical to this argument is the quality of governance of the co-operative and the inability of the executive of the co-operative to capture the decision-making goals and objectives from the collective. Such ‘co-operative capture’ would lead to a failure in co-operative governance resulting in co-operative outcomes converging to those of unregulated investor-owned firms.
Personal assistance co-operatives: Possibilities and pitfalls of alternative models of ‘Independent Living’.
Steve Graby, pp. 33-44
Personal assistance for disabled people is a field in which co-operatives have not yet had large-scale involvement in the UK. However, in other European countries such as Sweden and Norway there is a well-established co-operative sector providing personal assistance services. This paper draws on evidence from those contexts and on the author’s doctoral research. Conducted in the UK, the research used semi-structured qualitative interviews to explore how personal assistance provision could be improved both for disabled people and for those who work as personal assistants. The paper argues that there is significant potential for developing co-operatives in this field in the UK, which as yet is only starting to be realised in some small-scale experiments. There is also a potentially productive resonance between the Disabled People’s Movement concept of ‘independent living’
and the values and principles of the co-operative movement, which may suggest ways forward in challenging the political economics of austerity. However, the use of co-operative forms in this context is not without its limitations and dilemmas, and needs to be recognised as only a partial solution to disabling barriers that have deep material and ideological roots.
Accounting and reporting for co-operatives: A UK perspective.
Ian Adderley, Elisavet Mantzari, Maureen McCulloch, and Daphne Rixon, pp. 45-47
This paper reflects on the need for an accounting and reporting framework for co-operatives in the UK. We consider the current state of accounting in the co-operative sector and set out the arguments for a co-operative accounting Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) at entity and sector level, broadly and in some practical detail. We argue that the development of a co-operative SORP could contribute to our understanding of whether the definition, purpose and principles of co-operatives are being met. A co-operative SORP would allow both private (member) and public benefit to be pursued at the same time, make the sector more visible, and enable cross-sector comparisons for the whole movement. Such a framework would also offer clearer means for policymakers, regulators, funders, and others to identify and target support to provide equal treatment for co-operatives. The paper concludes by offering some preliminary action points on how to take the SORP project further.
The Case for a Community Bank for Wales: Banc Cambria.
Alex Bird, pp. 58-66
This paper takes as its starting point a report produced by Cambria Cydfuddiannol Ltd, a registered co-operative society working to launch a community bank for Wales. It draws also on a report to the Welsh Government by the Public Policy Institute to detail the development of Banc Cambria from the early exploration of the idea of a publicly owned bank in 2016, based on the work of Ellen Brown and the bank of North Dakota, through a policy development process that has led to the adoption of a mutual ownership model with the support of the Community Savings Bank Association. It chronicles some of the work done to gather the support of key Welsh Government Ministers and the financial and policy support of Welsh Government to progress the project, as well as political support from all the main parties represented in the Welsh Senedd. The initial idea for Bank Cambria came from the People’s Bank for Wales Action Group (PBWAG) and the paper represents a summation of the learning so far; at the time of writing, some of the more detailed work undertaken or in progress remains commercially sensitive and cannot be shared publicly and is therefore not included in this paper.
The Concept of the ‘Social and Solidarity Economy’ Damages the Prospect of Genuine Self-help Enterprises achieving a pivotal role within the economy.
Edgar Parnell, pp. 67-72
This article argues, from the standpoint of a practitioner, that the preoccupation of many academics and agencies with the concept referred to as the ‘social and solidarity economy’ has become a distraction from the primacy that ought to be placed on supporting and developing genuine co-operatives and other types of enterprises rooted in the practices of self-help and mutual action. In a world reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is asserted that resources now need to be focused on promoting, re-engineering, and developing enterprises that can help the mass of people respond positively to the challenges now facing them.
Rose Marley — CEO, Co-operatives UK: The distribution of power and wealth
Mike Wistow, pp.73-77
Rose Marley joined Co-operatives UK in January 2021 as chief executive officer following the departure of Ed Mayo. Rose, who has worked closely with the Co-operative Group over several years, has a background in social enterprise and is now on the Board of SharpFutures, the community interest company she co-founded in Manchester, UK to support young people into employment in the creative digital industries. In 2021, Rose was included in the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise (Euclid Network, 2021). Mike Wistow interviewed Rose for UKSCS shortly after her appointment focusing on co-operation, and research, policy, and practice. Much of Rose’s conversational style in her responses has been deliberately captured in this article to give a sense of her energy and passion for what she talks about.
Worker Co-operatives in India. By Timothy Kerswell and Surendra Pratep.
François Deblangy, pp. 78-80