When Big Co-ops Fail

The international co-operative movement has seen a series of catastrophic failures of large scale co-operatives in recent decades, such as the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, retail co-ops in Germany, France and Atlantic Canada, banking in Austria and the near meltdown of the Co-operative Group in the UK. Yet our co-operative culture has not been one of seeking to understand the factors which are common in these events and which, if understood, could be used to prevent such collapses in the future.


Factor One:
Seeing co-operation as the problem

The root of the other four factors is a failure to believe in and understand the nature of a co-op. The earliest sign is a co-operative which sees being a co-op as a problem, not a solution. The feeling that their co-op identity is a burden, not a source of pride appears to precede the other four factors. A cynicism about co-operative democracy and member engagement can develop long before the actions which cause the eventual collapse. In many ways, looking for this is the canary in a coal mine.

If not rooted out by active co-operative promotion and education, it will fester and grow into the other factors.

Read the full article at Co-operative News


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