In it he observed that both the Industrial and Provident Services Act of 1852 and the updating of model co-operative rules in the 1970s had led to spurts of co-operative activity in the 19th and 20th centuries and he predicted a similar spurt in this century.
Mr Sawtell suggested that people, with higher levels of education, will indeed come to expect greater democracy at work, just as they now take a democratic political structure for granted. Advances in technology, the emergence of small businesses and the growing backlash against the investor ownership model of business all bode well for the co-operative sector.
Mr Sawtell argued that if this 21st â€œoutburst of co-operative activityâ€ is to be more deeply rooted than those of the past, lessons need to be learned to make fashionable co-ops more than a fad.
Legal structures should be as simple and inexpensive as legislation allows; co-operatives should state and stick to their non-financial objects, as well as their financial ones. Co-operative governance, now outlined in Co-operatives UKâ€™s workersâ€™ co-operative code of governance needs to be implemented; co-operative managers need to be entrepreneurial; salaries need to be transparent and just; and a resurgent co-operative sector will require much greater and more specific government support.