Peer Refereed Papers
Workforce Participation: Developing a Theoretical Framework for Longitudinal Research
Rory Ridley-Duff and Alistair Ponton
This paper describes and evaluates an action research project on workforce participation at Viewpoint Research Community Interest Company (CIC). By setting out the research protocols devised by Viewpoint to stimulate and study co-operative management, it is possible to abstract a theoretical framework that emerged from a pilot case study. The paper contributes to theory by highlighting not only the potential of action research to catalyse interest in co-operative management but also how to engage theoretically with the paradox of a workforce voting to limit its own participation in ownership, governance and management. In this study, the authors interpreted that participants did not automatically equate participatory management with workplace democracy leading to a theoretical perspective that “democratic management is the propensity and capacity of management systems to respond to members’ desires regarding the scope, depth, level and quality of participation in management”. The paper concludes by evaluating the efficacy of Viewpoint’s action research methodology as a strategy for deepening knowledge on workforce participation in co-operatives and employee-owned businesses.
The rapidly-growing home care co-operative Kōreikyō combines features of consumer and worker co-operatives of, by and for over 30,000 seniors throughout Japan. In the Kōreikyō model, the active elderly provide home care services to the frail elderly. Caregivers and care-receivers are alike members.
The task of personal care of the elderly in Japan is traditionally assigned to daughters-in-law typically aged 35 to 55. While still almost entirely female, Kōreikyō home care workers are older (55 and over). The features of Kōreikyō that make it a co-operative – democratic control of work conditions, opportunity for personal initiative, participation in organisation policy making – make it especially attractive to such women.
The complexity of Kōreikyō’s organisation goes well beyond the market model of a simple instrumental nexus in which an activity once embedded in family practice becomes commodified and then professionalised. That Kōreikyō practices do present a significant shift from traditional, market and even other co-operative solutions to home helper services does not seem a drawback to members either as caregivers or care recipients. Kōreikyō home helper services grew rapidly during the period of greatest opportunity for home helpers, the three years following the inauguration of Japan’s Long Term Care Insurance programme (kaigo hoken) in 2000.
Based on personal experience and a survey of entrepreneurs across 13 countries, this article argues that money is not the only motivator for many entrepreneurs when they set up their business. Nearly 50% of the entrepreneurs in the survey said that making a difference had been a primary motivator in setting up their business and half of these said it was their primary motivator. In other words, nearly a fifth of the world’s entrepreneurial population has social rather than profit objectives when they establish their businesses. The research also found that the businesses that these entrepreneurs set up create two jobs for every one that a mainstream business creates and their levels of profitability and growth are higher. The article concludes that it is possible to do well by doing good and that policy should therefore reflect the diversity of motivations when offering support to potential entrepreneurs.
Challenges of Growth in the US Credit Union Movement
The US credit union movement has undergone a transformation over the past four decades, from a multiplicity of small, largely volunteer-run organisations offering limited services, to a smaller number of larger full-service financial institutions staffed by salaried professionals. This article looks at some of the challenges posed by growth and consolidation: the cultural shift, governance issues, and the effects on board responsibilities. The US experience has implications for movements still in the early stages of their development.
This paper identifies as controversial three aspects of a recent report on the The Capital Finance of Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies, published by Co-operatives UK. These aspects are the need for a clear assertion of the principle of limited return; the proposition that transferable shares are of little value without engagement with the City; and whether societies already have the necessary legal power to redeem transferable shares. These issues are of immediate practical relevance.
Mutualism Offers UK Housing ‘More than Markets’
Chris Handy and Kevin Gulliver
The article summarises the research findings of a new report about mutual housing in the UK — More than Markets: Mutual and Co-operative Housing in the UK (Gulliver et al, 2013). The report seeks to provide an alternative vision for UK housing that stresses co-operation over competition. The article describes how the UK’s housing system stresses home ownership over other tenures and is increasingly pushing social housing towards marketisation. Drawing on the work of evolutionary psychologists and philosophers, the article shows that co-operation is as important as competition in successful human endeavours: especially so in the UK’s housing system. It further illustrates that there is a renaissance in co-operative housing in the UK but that the sector remains small and disparate. Despite this, mutual housing is flourishing with an array of new approaches being developed to extend its reach across the social housing sector and to introduce mutual home ownership into the owner-occupied sector. The article shows that mutualising UK housing offers much to communities in terms of improved housing management, greater levels of resident satisfaction and more active citizens. The article concludes that expansion of mutual housing could be supported by the creation of a Tenants Mutual and a co-operative tenancy within social housing.
This paper will argue that the failure of the Co-operative Bank is not an isolated event but part of a pattern of systemic failure by the whole movement globally. This failure is rooted in the movement not developing an appropriate economics and in the misdirection of its original purpose to develop an alternative economy rather than simply presenting an alternative business model. These mistakes have been compounded the paper argues by a failure to focus on any definition of co-operative management or its development and to forget the early emphasis on character formation within the project of co-operative education.
The public associates the co-operative movement with a persuasive and engaging set of values — loved, local & trusted — but it is only when the customer’s experiences reinforce these values, that loyalty and growth ensue.
Resilience in a Downturn: The Power of Financial Cooperatives
By Johnston Birchall | Reviewed by Nick Matthews
The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy
By Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty | Reviewed by Karl Dayson
The Development of the Modern US Credit Union Movement 1970-2010
By Paul Thompson | Reviewed by Ralph Swoboda