Thu 10 Feb 2022 8:38AM

should co-ops only support other co-ops?

AA adrian ashton Public Seen by 75

picked up the news recently that the co-op group is running a incubator programme, but without any requirement that the enterprises benefitting are co-ops...

what's the view on this? should any co-op running a business support programme of any kind restrict it to co-ops only, or if there's a case that supporting non-coops will make their co-op stronger, is that ok?



Emma Howard Thu 10 Feb 2022 8:43AM

Where do you want to draw the line on what exactly a co-op is? Is a co-op a legal definition only, or a wider concept?


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Thu 10 Feb 2022 8:52AM

Not a legal definition, but an enterprise collectively owned and controlled by its worker or user members, trading for member and wider community benefit?


Emma Howard Thu 10 Feb 2022 9:06AM

I suspect there are many organisations that blur those lines.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Thu 10 Feb 2022 9:31AM

If it looks like one, walks like one and talks like one it probably is one? 🤣


Graham Thu 10 Feb 2022 9:41AM

I think we might conflating two different things here. Firstly, it's my view - and I think this is quite widely shared - that cooperative organisations have a duty to support the development of the cooperative economy. Alongside that commitment I'd say it's up to them what they do in terms of any wider investment. It seems clear from the article that what they are actually doing here is investing in their supply chain to drive innovation (something that large organisations tend tone woefully bad at). Clearly we would probably agree that the o-op groGup, and larger cooperatives and mutuals generally could be a doing a whole lot more to invest in the future success of the cooperative economy.

I'd also say that we want to happen, we need to make it easy for them to do so. This was one of the focal points of the work that I was doing pre-pandemic to develop a better understanding of the cooperative economy as an ecosystem.


Graham Thu 10 Feb 2022 9:43AM

In terms of drawing lines I'm generally not a fan. More important to focus on cooperation-as-process rather than cooperative-as-entity.


Pete Burden Thu 10 Feb 2022 9:51AM



bob cannell Fri 11 Feb 2022 1:01PM

There is an assumption here that the Coop Group is a cooperative. Many of us believe that the 2013 (2014?) new rules turned it into a non-cooperative social enterprise. How many of the ICA 7 principles does tCG conform to? 1. not really 2. definitely not 3. a bit 4. no ( the banks control it) 5. a bit but very generally 6. not really (viz this programme) 7. yes And it does not conform to the ICA definition of a cooperative. Coops UK agreed the 'new' rules under extreme financial duress. Other CUK members were not amused.


Norman Sat 12 Feb 2022 1:46PM

The tragedy is that for the Co-op Group investment in the fifth principle is sefl-defeating: the better people understand co-operation the more they will see the glaring contradictions in the Group structure. So their member-education becomes bland homilies about caring for others. The real danger, and this is something we need to be aware of, is that this non-co-operation becomes the conventional wisdom, and anyone who tries to apply the real values and principles can be branded as some sort of extremist . You can see the same process at work in the Labour Party. You can see the same people undermining principles and values in both places.