Time to to re-empower cooperative enterprise

What lessons can we take from this sad story? One, obviously, is that it’s high time for Congress to take a hard look at the laws governing co-ops. It needs to be made clear that no corporation gets the legal privileges of a co-op unless it truly represents the little guy without any conflicts of interests. While there is nothing wrong per se with co-ops becoming vertically integrated, the law should ensure that the money co-ops make on all their operations goes back directly to their members.

Another lesson is that monopoly begets monopoly. Gary Hanman wasn’t wrong when he told farmers that the increasing concentration of ownership among agribusinesses meant that farmer co-ops had to grow bigger, too. But he didn’t tell them that as their traditional co-ops merged and consolidated into the Goliath that became DFA, they were creating a new oppressor. This dynamic is what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis meant when he referred to “the curse of bigness.” Continue reading

The UK co-operative economy 2016


 Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive

The term “co-op” evokes images of collective farming or crunchy craft breweries. But Virginie Perotin of Leeds University Business Schoolsynthesized research on “labor-managed firms” in Western Europe, the United States and Latin America, and found that, aside from the holistic social benefits of worker autonomy, giving workers a direct stake in managing production enables a business to operate more effectively. On balance, Perotin concludes, “worker cooperatives are more productive than conventional businesses, with staff working ‘better and smarter’ and production organized more efficiently.” Continue reading

Selfish traits not favoured by evolution

Melissa Hogenboom, “Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows,” BBC News, 2 August 2013

Evolution does not favour selfish people, according to new research.

This challenges a previous theory which suggested it was preferable to put yourself first.

Instead, it pays to be co-operative, shown in a model of “the prisoner’s dilemma”, a scenario of game theory – the study of strategic decision-making.

Published in Nature Communications, the team says their work shows that exhibiting only selfish traits would have made us become extinct.
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UK co-op membership reaches record high

Aimee Meade, “UK co-op membership reaches record high“, Guardian, 24 June 2013

A record number of entrepreneurs, employers and communities in the UK have opted for the co-operative business model, according to a new report by Co-operatives UK.

The report Homegrown: The Co-operative Economy 2013 which was published today by Co-operatives UK, outlined how local shops, owned and run by members of communities across the UK had a combined turnover of £49m in 2012 with over 50,000 members.
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