[Deadline exteded - by 15 September] Call for abstracts and panel proposals - ICA Cooperative Research Conference "Deepening Our Cooperative Identity" 26-27 February 2021, Seoul, Republic of Korea

03 Mar 2020

Change of Dates

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 33rd World Cooperative Congress has now been rescheduled to take place from 1 to 3 March 2021. The preparatory Cooperative Research Conference has been rescheduled to take place on 26 and 27 February.*


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To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the 25th anniversary of the ICA Statement on the Cooperative Identity, the 33rd World Cooperative Congress will be held at COEX in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 1-3 March 2021. 

The Congress offers a unique opportunity to celebrate and deepen the understanding of the cooperative identity and the profound social and economic impact of cooperatives worldwide.  How does the cooperative movement transform societies? How does the cooperative way of doing business create an innovative pathway to a sustainable future? How cooperatives show resilience and innovation, and help communities, in the wake of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Congress will explore how the cooperative identity addresses current global issues that demand a resolute response — climate action, sustainable development, conflicts and violence, income and wealth inequality, gender equality and the future of work. The competitive advantage of the cooperative identity — business performance, market share, best governance and management practices, and the unique nature of cooperative capital, will also be explored.

A “Call to Action” on the occasion of the ICA 125th anniversary will bring together the cooperative movement to discuss commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals that will most directly impact both global stability and human development.

What is a World Cooperative Congress?

World Cooperative Congresses, organized by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), convene only on very special occasions: the creation of the ICA (1st Congress, 1895); the approval of the Statement on the Cooperative Identity (31st Congress, 1995); or the UN International Year of Cooperatives (32nd Congress, 2012). 

These are gatherings of cooperators at large including representatives of ICA member organizations. The 33rd World Cooperative Congress, initially foreseen for December 2020 and now postponed to 1-3 March 2021, in Seoul, will be only the second Congress to be held outside Europe and is an opportunity to reaffirm the universal value and recognition of the cooperative identity.

The Cooperative Research Conference will be organized by the ICA on 26-27 February 2021 in Seoul as a pre-Congress event. The Conference will be the precursor for debates on key-themes and sub-themes of the World Cooperative Congress, building content for discussions based on scientific and analytical contributions.


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Abstracts and proposals of panel sessions

The Cooperative Research Conference will explore and address specific themes intrinsically linked to the overarching theme of the Congress: “Deepening Our Cooperative Identity”.

The ICA invites cooperative researchers, experts and practitioners to submit individual abstracts (750 words maximum) or proposals of panel sessions (including the participants' names and affiliations) on the themes defined in the Concept note of the 33rd Congress and proposed under one of the four specific Thematic Lines outlined below.

The submission should include:

  • Title, author and affiliation
  • The Theme of the submission (see below). A sub-theme may also be indicated.
  • The core idea/ argument/ message as a contribution to the discussion of the Cooperative Identity as well as 3 to 5 keywords
  • An explanation on why the submission contributes to the advancement of knowledge about the Cooperative identity (as relevant)

Evaluation and selection will be made on the basis of the potential of the proposed communications and panel sessions to address critical issues in mobilizing relevant and robust arguments based on both theoretical, analytical, conceptual and empirical bases.

Young Scholars (students, or scholars within 2 years of graduation) are particularly encouraged to submit proposals.

The authors of the selected abstracts will be invited to develop them into full papers (5000-7000 words). They will interact with the scientific committee in order to elaborate their papers in line with the Congress program. The best papers will be selected for presentation in relevant sessions of the Congress, and/or publication.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICA is also considering virtual internet tools for showcasing the presentation of papers and their discussion. More information will follow in due time.


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Thematic Lines


1. The Cooperative Identity

What are the unique opportunities that the Cooperative Identity presents for membership growth, expanded market share and significant social impact?

  • a. Governance and member participation
  • b. The Cooperative brand recognition
  • c. Education about cooperative identity
  • d. Cooperatives and cooperative identity as intangible cultural heritage
  • e. Cooperatives and the Social Solidarity Economy
  • f. Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • g. Other topics clearly related to this theme may also be considered


2. Cooperative Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The cooperative identity as a foundation for innovation and a unique business opportunity.

  • a. New economic paradigms, digital transformation, and new business models
  • b. Ethical value chain management
  • c. Building strong cooperative entrepreneurial networks
  • d. Cooperative capital: meeting future capital needs
  • e. Other topics clearly related to this theme may also be considered


3. Cooperative Global Commitment

The present and future roles of cooperatives in affecting positive change to global challenges: climate crisis, conflict, inequality.

  • a. Global crises, such as health crises including COVID-19, migrations etc.
  • b. Climate change and environmental protection
  • c. Positive peace, natural disaster recovery and socio-economic cohesion
  • d. Global cooperative development
  • e. Other topics clearly related to this theme may also be considered


4. Cooperative identity and the SDGs

Cooperatives as promoters of the SDGs and the role of the cooperative identity

  • a. Work and its future
  • b. Health and social services
  • c. Food security
  • d. Energy and housing
  • e. Other topics clearly related to this theme may also be considered


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Call for abstracts (Submissions deadline: 15 July 2020 => extended till 15 September)

Selection of abstracts submitted by 15 July (15 July – 31 August 2020)

Selection of abstracts submitted by 15 September (16 September - 15 October)

Elaboration of papers (1 September - 15 December 2020)

  • Selected authors will receive comments from the scientific committee.
  • A call for a meeting with individual authors may be scheduled if needed.
  • Selected authors will submit final papers by 15 December 2020 at the latest and will then be distributed to the discussants of the panels and sessions.

Publication of abstracts and papers (15 December 2020 – 31 January 2021)

All abstracts will be translated into four languages (EN, FR, ES, KR) and integrated into a conference book. All papers will be uploaded on the Congress website and app.

Post-Conference activity (until 31 May 2021)

After the Congress, all authors may review their papers and submit them to the ICA. The submitted papers will be used to publish the ICA 33rd World Cooperative Congress proceedings, the Review of International Cooperation, a special edition of the Journal of Cooperative Organization and Management (JCOM, Elsevier), and other publications (TBD), including in Spanish, French and Korean, subject to the authors’ approval.


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Abstracts should be submitted in English, French, Spanish or Korean. Full papers should also be written in one of these four languages. 


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More information

For more information, please contact Santosh Kumar, ICA Legislation Coordinator at kumar@ica.coop 


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Proposal Submission

In using provided forms, please submit your abstracts or panel session proposal to  research.congress@worldcoopcongress.coop indicating in the subject line: “LAST NAME-World Coop Congress 125 Years ICA-Theme #” for communications or “LAST NAME-World Coop Congress 125 Years ICA Panel-Theme #” for panel proposals.

If you are a Young Scholar (student, or within 2 years of graduation) please add:

“LAST NAME - YS-World Coop Congress 125 Years ICA– Theme #”


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Scientific Committee

A scientific committee will supervise the process of communication selection and elaboration of papers. The committee has two co-Chairs and is composed of researchers proposed by

  • The ICA Committee on Cooperative Research
  • The Korea Society of Cooperative Studies

There will be four linguistic streams in the evaluation process, for English, Spanish, French and Korean.


  • Sonja Novkovic, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary's University, Canada
  • Jung-Joo Kim, KON-KUK University, Republic of Korea



  • Esther Gicheru, The Co-operative University of Kenya, Kenya
  • Mirta Vuotto, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Claudia Sanchez Bajo, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Davi Moura Costa, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Jessica Gordon Nembhard, City University of New York, USA
  • Akira Kurimoto, Hosei University, Japan
  • Morris Altman, University of Dundee School of Business, UK
  • T. Paranjothi, Agricultural Cooperative Training Institute, India
  • Cynthia Giagnocavo, University of Almería, Spain
  • Constantine Iliopoulos, Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Greece
  • Paola Raffaelli, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
  • Claude-André Guillotte, University of Sherbrooke, Canada
  • Maryline Filippi, University of Bordeaux, France
  • Lou Hammond Ketilson, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Roger Spear, Open University, UK
  • Seungkwon Jang, Sungkonghoe University, Republic of Korea
  • Chung-Ok Koo, Seoul Women’s University, Republic of Korea
  • Hyungmi Kim, Sangji University, Republic of Korea
  • Jaeil Song, Myongji University, Republic of Korea
  • Sang-Youn Lee, Sungkonghoe University, Republic of Korea
  • Seongjae Park, GSnJ Institute, Republic of Korea


* These dates are subject to be further rescheduled should the COVID-19 pandemic make it necessary for force majeure.