Tools to Measure Co-op Performance and Impact

*Conference presentations now available online *

Researchers and practitioners using tools to measure co-operative performance & impact gathered in Halifax May 23-24, 2014 to discuss the following themes:
• Statistics and data collection;
• Putting co-operative principles into practice;
• Community impact;
• Member engagement;
• Reporting practices.
The Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and the Centre of Excellence in Accounting and Reporting for Co-operatives at Saint Mary’s University (Sobey School of Business) hosted this event.
To view the program and conference presentations,click here.
A publication is in the works to be released in the winter of 2015 so stay tuned for more on this.

Governance of large co-ops report released

“The governance of large co-operative businesses” report was just released, a project undertaken by Johnston Birchall, commissioned by Co-operatives UK.

Some highlights (excerpt from the report):
-Overall, the governance of large co-operatives is on a par with and probably superior to shareholder companies
-Where there are examples of governance weakness there is encouraging evidence of action to remedy this
-The governance approach of co-operatives is shaped by the ownership model and central purpose of the business. The best model is one that reinforces the economic participation of members
-Two common challenges in co-operative governance are ensuring expertise on the Board and managing the costs of a participative model of governance

View the full study here

New report: Mobilizing community capital for co-op development

Brendan Reimer and Kirsten Bernas of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network have released a report that seeks to address the investment financing challenge that co-operatives face. This research explores the potential for building on existing legislation in Manitoba to create a province-wide CDIF as a financial vehicle to raise equity capital for co-ops by leveraging the provincial Community Enterprise Development (CED) Tax Credit to encourage equity investments in co-operative start-ups and expansions. This research will inform Manitoba’s co-operative community in its pursuit of creating new financing mechanisms for co-op development.

More precisely, the objectives of this research is to:

    • Provide clarity on the legislative potential for the creation of a province-wide CDIF to act as a co-op equity investment fund that would raise capital for co-ops in Manitoba by leveraging the Community Enterprise Development Tax Credit.
    • Identify models that provide equity capital for co-operative start-ups and growth, particularly those that are capitalized by individuals as investors, and identify the particular nature and structure of each model in order to understand the transferability or applicability to the Manitoba model.
    • Identify the requirements for successfully developing a province-wide CDIF in Manitoba focused on co-ops, and some of the benefits and disadvantage

View the full report here


Proposal deadline extended: Co-op accounting and reporting research grant

*Deadline extended to January 15, 2014*

The Centre of Excellence in Accounting and Reporting for Co-operatives (CEARC) has made a research fund available for research in accounting and reporting for co-operatives and credit unions. There is only one call for proposals per year. A total of $20,000 is available for this call. These funds may be awarded to more than one recipient. For example, the funds could be given to 2 people ($10,000 each) or to 4 people ($5,000 each).

The main purpose of this fund is to encourage researchers in Canada as well as internationally to undertake projects of relevance to accounting and financial reporting in the co-operative and credit union sectors. The research project may be of interest to either/both academics and practitioners. While not a specific requirement, ideally the research will lead to a broad dissemination of its results through conference presentations and journal publication.

Full details available here: Call for Proposals – Extended Jan 2014

-Daphne Rixon, Director of CEARC

Evaluation confirms that co-operatives reduce poverty

Co-operatives in the developing world are improving the livelihoods of their members and Canadian efforts to support those co-operatives are helping them do that.

Those are just two of the findings from a comprehensive evaluation of Canadian support to co-operatives commissioned by the Canadian International Development Agency– now the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).  The evaluation is the first of its kind, focusing on a specific development approach  rather than a project or organization and was prompted, in part, to commemorate the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012.  The evaluation looked at the work of three organizations – The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), Développement International Desjardins(DID), and SOCODEVI – in three countries – Guatemala, Vietnam, and Burkina Faso.  Three other countries where co-operative development has not been particularly successful – Cameroon, Honduras, and Tanzania -were chosen as “deviant case studies”  in an effort to more accurately isolate those things that work, and do not work in developing successful co-operative movements.

Visit CCA’s website to read the evaluation.

-Canadian Co-operative Association

Call for papers for a special journal issue on co-operative governance

A special joint issue of the International Journal of Co-operative Management and the Journal of Co-operative Accounting and Reporting
Guest editor: Sonja Novkovic

Deadline: March 1, 2014.
The theme will be “Co-operative governance: A critical approach”.

How does the size of the stake in a co-operative relate to participation and member engagement? Is accountability and transparency more likely to emerge in particular types of co-operatives? Some financial and consumer co-operatives ensure worker participation in decision-making – does deliberate worker engagement make a difference for co-operative governance? Finally, to what extent is democratic governance important to members and important for co-operative success? What is its impact on risk?

We welcome a critical approach that will question the essence of co-operative type of business and the evolving practices that may jeopardize the co-operative identity, but we also welcome best practice solutions to some of the potential problems and risks faced by co-operatives under the pressure of market competition, or oligarchy.
Both theoretical and applied research papers, as well as practical executive reports will be considered. All submitted articles will be subject to peer review process.

The full call for papers: Co-operative Governance. Call for papers-joint issue

-Dr. Sonja Novkovic

Call for papers: “The Co-operative Advantage for Community Development” JEOD

A call for papers has been issued for the Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity (JEOD). The special issue focuses on “The Co-operative Advantage for Community Development” and the deadline is Feb 1, 2014. This edition is edited by Marcelo Vieta and Doug Lionais. The full details are available here: JEOD CFP Special Issue – Vieta Lionais

New Book: Cooperation, Community, and Co-ops in A Global Era

Title: Cooperation, Community, and Co-ops in A Global Era
Item Type: Book
Author: Carl Ratner
Date: 2013
Publisher: Springer Publishers
Website or Link:

From the back cover:

“Human history is largely the story of communities, punctuated by examples of
cooperatives—in fact, our level of cooperative behavior is one of the attributes that makes
us most human. In recent years, however, concepts such as rugged individualism and
social Darwinism have competed against cooperative ideas for supremacy, and today’s
climate of global economic crisis has found these “me-first” concepts wanting.
Now, an important new book posits that current political solutions to acute world
problems are inadequate, and that modern society needs to look to its communal roots for
recovery—and perhaps survival. Cooperation, Community, and Co-ops in a Global Era
argues for a societal paradigm shift and details how such a transformation might be
accomplished. Taking the evolutionary long view, its author demonstrates how
cooperative principles can make a social system not just more efficient and less wasteful
of time and resources, but also more democratic, empowering, and fulfilling for everyone
involved. In making this compelling case, he:
• Explains how humans are hard-wired for cooperation, and identifies its psychological
• Contrasts aspects of cooperative enterprises before and after the Industrial Revolution.
• Provides illustrative examples from European cooperative institutions.
• Analyzes modern social paradoxes such as cooperative individuality.
• Examines the strengths and shortcomings of the modern international cooperative
• Explicates a cooperative social philosophy: its structures, behaviors, and values.
Social and cultural psychologists as well as sociologists will find Cooperation, Community,
and Co-ops in a Global Era worth reading, discussing, and debating.”

Co-operative library and historical documents – University of Saskatchewan

The Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan has an extensive co-operative library and also an online archive of co-operative historical documents such as meeting minutes and photos.

Take advantage of these great resources today online:

University of Saskatchewan – Centre for the Study of Co-operatives
Centre for the Study of Co-ops Library
Online history (artifacts/meeting minutes/photos) of co-operatives in Saskatchewan