Help movement flourish in new sectors, say academics

27 Apr 2012

Co-operatives contribute to the development of their communities and sectors, according to a ‘final declaration’ from a group of academics.
Following on from the “Promoting the understanding of cooperatives for a better world” conference in Venice, organised by research institute Euricse, an overview document of the event found that co-operation is emerging in the public service sectors and that better regulation to stimulate co-operative growth is needed.
The conference brought together scholars from various countries and disciplines to discuss the economic and social importance of cooperatives.
Academics discovered the emergence of co-operatives in public service sectors such as education, health and social services was an answer to local and national services run by other organisations that were deemed as inadequate.
To help support the growth of co-operatives, the conference held the belief that better regulatory framework was of paramount importance in traditional and new sectors. Delegates backed calls for governments to recognise co-operatives as a business model that should enjoy the same freedoms, access and support as other enterprises. 
They also believed organisational and governance rules would allow co-operatives to develop, especially in sectors that have been traditionally dominated by public-run entities. Equally, market regulation and anti-trust laws should take into account the unique goals of co-operatives, which are to be run in line with the interests of their workers, producers or consumers.
The report declared: “The genetics of co-operation reveal an ability to adapt and transform that enables cooperatives both to react positively to difficult situations and to actively contribute to social and economic development, though their usefulness is clearly not limited to times of crisis. 
“The contributions of the scholars who participated in this conference highlight that the interest in cooperation is not limited to the scientific community, but is part of a renewed attention to these enterprise forms. 
“At the same time, they reveal how public policies and market regulations in many contexts are still inadequate, as they often tend to negate enterprise diversity and effectively penalise co-operatives.” 
These discussions will be taken forward by the ICA in its 2020 vision of a Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, which will be debated at various events culminating at the General Assembly in October.
• Euricse researchers are working on a more exhaustive and analytical document, which is set to be released at the end of May. To keep informed, visit:
Picture: “Promoting the understanding of cooperatives for a better world” conference in Venice

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