Research should play a central role in co-operative understanding
“If, as G.J. Holyoake noted in his history of the Rochdale Pioneers, education is the lifeblood of the movement, it should continue to play a central role among co-operative researchers as they develop together internationally.”
So writes Lou Hammond Ketilson, The Chair of the ICA’s Committee on Co-operative Research in her welcoming letter to the ICA’s Global Research Conference due to take place in Mikkeli on the shore of Lake Saimaa in eastern Finland between August 24 and 27.
The conference will embrace the UN message for International Year of Co-operatives 2012, as well as focusing on the need for co-operatives to be better understood by the general public, media and political decision makers.
“There is a serious need for more knowledge about the co-operative model as a business form, about its unique leadership and management structure, and about the application of co-operative practice to a wide variety of activities,” says Dr Hammond Ketilson. “Equally important is the role of co-operatives in promoting mutual self-help and social policy reform.”
The keynote speech at the conference is to be delivered by Carlo Borzaga,President of Euricse, the European Research
Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises at the University of Trento, Italy. His speech is entitled “New opportunities for cooperatives and social enterprises in the changing landscape of the welfare systems”.
The conference welcomes researchers across all disciplines, practitioners in both the public and private sectors and civil society organisations.
“Participants are invited to share their research results on co-operative theory and practice, on both achievements and failures,” she writes. “The conference will provide a forum to exchange ideas on research needs and will be an ideal environment in which to develop collaborative partnerships. It also aims to enhance communication between researchers and practitioners – leaders, managers and promoters of co-operative development - who will have much to contribute to the round-table sessions on critical business issues, on opportunities for co-ops to fulfill public service needs, and on policy initiatives to further ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development.”
The 2012 mandate has among its recommendations strengthening research and education on co-operatives. “Research should look more closely at the characteristics of co-ops, their strengths and weaknesses, and co-operative identity, values, and principles,” writes Dr Hammond Ketilson. “There should also be policies to promote research-based education regarding co-operatives at schools and universities, in particular co-operative entrepreneurship, in addition to training for co-operative members, boards, and leaders.”