17th ICA Asia Pacific Research Conference and 8th Research Committee Meeting

04 Nov 2023

The 17th ICA-AP Research Conference was held on the theme “Cooperatives Advancing Social Responsibility for the 2030 Agenda” from 4–5 November 2023 at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila. It brought together over 50 academicians from 8 countries in the Asia Pacific region for mutual exchange and peer learning to promote accelerated actions for progress in Sustainable Development. The conference addressed a wide range of research topics from different scientific fields and traditions including corporate social responsibility, creating shared value, stakeholder engagement, elderly care, digital platforms, among others.

In the opening ceremony, welcome remarks were made by Dr. Hilda F. San Gabriel, Chairperson of PUP Department of Cooperatives and Social Development (CSSD). She emphasised that cooperatives are recognized as important partners for achieving sustainable development goals because they promote democracy, promote employment opportunities, foster social inclusions, care for the environment, and have a significant economic impact. She welcomed the 75 abstracts from the 9 countries (Philippines, India, Malaysia, Japan, Nepal, South Korea, Australia, United Kingdom, etc.) and 35 abstracts from student researchers taking up Bachelor of Science in Cooperatives. 

A solidarity message was made by CSSD Dean Dr. Raul Sebastian, represented by Chair of PUP Department of Economics, Assoc. Prof Norie Maniego. He mentioned that sustainable development recognizes the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, socially in equality, creating inclusive and sustainable economic growth and to foster social inclusions. Cooperatives have a greater role in achieving these goals because they have to reduce poverty and inequality by providing greater opportunities to its members that will enable them to attain higher income, savings, investments, and productivity. He hoped that the conference will be a source of inspiration to forge collaborative partnerships and meaningful connections that will lead us to a world without poverty.

An inaugural address was delivered by Dr. Yashavantha Dongre, Chairperson, ICA-AP Committee on Cooperative Research. With the committee being in existence for around 25 years, the Conference provided a good platform to learn about cooperative research undertaken across the Philippines and other countries. He considered it important to choose such a platform for innovation in the sector. Mr. Balu Iyer, Regional Director, ICA-AP in his opening remarks emphasized upon the importance of cooperatives in economic and social life. To ensure equality, he reiterated the need to provide access to services (education) and social engagements. Principle on Cooperation among Cooperatives is the key in enabling such an environment. 

Dr. Manuel M. Muhi, PUP President in his address highlighted the role of the diverse private sector ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinational corporations. He said that cooperatives promote democracy, foster social inclusion, and have a valuable economic impact in the economy. PUP is honoured to contribute through this Conference in promoting accelerated action and progress for sustainable development and multi-sectoral collaboration for sustainable development in the Philippines and beyond. He envisions the PUP to be the national centre for cooperative studies to provide and assist the cooperative movement through training, research, exchange and sharing of expertise. Research allows us to pursue our interest, to learn, enhance problem solving skills and to challenge ourselves in new ways. He encouraged the participants to address social issues and progress in cooperative development and movement building activities over the course of the conference. 


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A keynote address was delivered on the topic “Research for Sustainability of Cooperatives: Creating the Future'' by a representative of Usec. Joseph Encabo, Chairperson, Cooperative Development Authority, Phillipines. He said that the concept of sustainability has gained significant traction over the last few years. There is a need to balance economic progress and stewardship, as well as social regulations. He invited the participants to help formulate strategies and share knowledge and best practices with cooperatives in different countries and sectors. This will help tap into the full potential of cooperatives and leverage to confront global issues like poverty. He also said that it is important to be reminded that research alone is not enough, we must take concrete steps in the application of the findings and inferences. 

Another key plenary address was delivered on the topic “Research for Coops Sustainability” by Ms. Daisybelle M. Cabal, Chief Operating Officer, National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), Philippines. She apprised the participants on the research and development projects at NATCCO such as core banking system development, platform development, automation of risk-based evaluation, production of modules for social and financial education for the youth and certification programs for cooperatives amidst others. She encouraged young researchers to undertake more publication and write case studies on NATCCO member cooperatives. They have a 2023 - 27 Strategic Plan to build training centre for the academy of Coop NATCCO network. She famously ended her speech by saying “Cooperatives can only be successful if you do 3 important things: Education, education, and education. Members come and go, as new ones come, we need to educate them. Let us not get tired of doing this but be inspired to empower them.” 

Over the course of two days, around 47 research papers were presented in plenary and parallel tracks. A sub-committee was set up during the conference to review and adjudicate the best research papers by young scholars and early career researchers, consisting of Dr. Yashvantha Dongre, Dr. Sidsel Grimstad and Dr. Hilda San Gabriel. The committee awarded the first prize to Dr. Jiyun Jeon, Research Fellow, Lingnan University, Hong Kong for her paper on "How do Cooperatives Diversify New Practice? Fair Trade of Korean consumer cooperatives". The second prize was awarded to Ms. Kristine B. Atendido, Student, Bachelor of Science in Cooperatives, Department of Cooperatives & Social Development in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines for her paper on "Youth Capabilities & Capacities and their Involvement in Cooperatives as Perceived by the Bachelor of Science in Cooperatives Students".

Jiyun’s paper explains how and why organizations under the same institutional logic exhibit different practices by highlighting the relationship between the language and practice of the actors. The paper explores how and why Korean consumer cooperatives, notably, Dure, iCOOP, and Hansalim have established diverse Fair Trade practices despite being positioned in nearly identical institutional contexts. She argues that translation of the discourse of Fair Trade, reframing it based on local practice, text production, and discursive action make up the dynamics of Korean consumer cooperative’s Fair Trade practices. This paper contributes to developing the theory of institutional logic and discursive practice by providing an extended view. The author also offers practical advice to practitioners in the field to raise their understanding of the diverse practices of organizations.

Kristine’s study aims to explore the perceptions of Bachelor of Science in Cooperatives students regarding youth’s capabilities, capacities, and involvement in cooperatives. The data collection commenced through structured survey questionnaire formulated by the researchers and implemented through Google Form. To analyse and interpret the data gathered, descriptive statistics specifically frequency and weighted mean were used to provide statistically factual information. The findings from this research shed light on the students' perspectives and contribute to a deeper understanding of how youth perceive their roles and contributions within the cooperative sector. This study differs from others as it presents recent and practicable information, particularly, it is entirely focused on the perception of cooperative students themselves. The study also aims to determine the effectiveness of the existing Bachelor Program in Cooperatives in producing graduates who are eligible to lead in Cooperatives.

The Conference included a morning visit to the fine arts and historical museum in Manila as well a cultural performance by the students of the PUP. At the end of the conference, Mr. Mohit Dave, Secretary, ICA-AP Research Committee delivered a vote of thanks. He acknowledged the delegates from all countries for their active presence throughout the sessions. On behalf of the committee, he conveyed gratitude to PUP President Dr. Manuel M. Muhi and the organising committee. All the institutional partners and sponsoring agencies were duly acknowledged for their support.  

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After the closing session of the Research Conference, 9th meeting of the ICA-AP Committee on Cooperative Research was held on 5th November from 17:30 to 18:30 hours Manila time. Members from Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea were in attendance. Committee Secretary Mr. Mohit Dave presented a report on activities held in the recent period, as tabled below. 

Timeline Activity Collaboration
Feb 22 1st Co-op Colloquium on Deepening the Cooperative Identity (Online) Bayan Academy, the Philippines
April 22 2nd Co-op Colloquium on Making Co-op Education Attractive for Millennials: Gaps and Opportunities (Online) ICA-AP Committee on Cooperatives in Education Institutions
June 22 3rd Co-op Colloquium on Coop rebuilding a resilient global society through cooperative identity (Online) IKOPIN, Indonesia
Sept 22 4th Co-op Colloquium on Cooperative Identity & Platform Technology (Online) Institute of Cooperative Digital Economy, USA
Dec 22 16th  ICA-AP Research Conference (In-person) IKOPIN, Indonesia
Apr 23 5th Co-op Colloquium on Promoting inclusive and quality education for cooperatives (Online) Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Jun 23 6th Co-op Colloquium on Mutual Value Measurement Framework (Online) Monash Business School, Australia
Aug 23 7th Co-op Colloquium on Fostering a Culture of Collaborative Youth Research (Online) Changemaker20 Summit, India
Nov 23 17th ICA-AP Research Conference (In-person) Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Dec 23 8th Co-op Colloquium on Cooperatives and Systems Innovation (Online) Griffith University, Australia

Members discussed the planning of 18th ICA-AP Research Conference and other potential events to be held in 2024. Any proposals to host colloquiums and conferences are invited until December 2023. The office bearers are expected to meet in January 2024 to review and decide. Co-option of new members from India, Australia and Malaysia and office bearer (South Korea) was also discussed and approved. 

Next meeting of the committee will be held in conjunction with the 18th Conference, tentatively in around October - November 2024. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks from the Chairperson, Dr. Y. Dongre. 



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Mohit Dave