Successful Young Scholars Workshop on Cooperatives

Published on
February 2, 2018

As part of the ICA2018 Research Conference (, on July 4th a Young Scholars Workshop on Cooperatives was held at Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands.

Text and pictures: Annemarie Groot Kormelinck

Twenty-five young scholars (Msc students, PhD candidates, Postdocs) from all over the world joined in an interactive workshop. The workshop was organized by the ICA CCR Young Scholars Program, the Young Scholars Initiative Working Group on Cooperatives and Cooperation, and Wageningen University & Research.

The objective of the workshop was to give young scholars from different disciplines the opportunity to develop further knowledge and skills on current issues on Cooperatives. The workshop was preceded with a dinner and networking opportunity on Tuesday evening, 3rd of July.

In the morning of the workshop, two well-known scientists from the field of Cooperative studies have given a keynote speech, followed by discussion.

The first keynote speech was given by Prof. Murray Fulton, from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada: “Some thoughts on cooperative governance.” The keynote and group discussion elaborated on how governance in cooperatives coordinates behavior and cooperation of independent stakeholders, how it ensures a common cognitive view of the future, and how it provides legitimacy for organizational decisions. Based on insights from political theory and behavioural economics, examples of successful and failed cooperatives were used to underscore how governance in a successful way can shape the behavior of cooperative organizations.

The second keynote speech was given by Prof. Maryline Filippi from the University of Bordeaux in France: “Being cooperative in the 21st century”. The keynote and group discussion focused on resilience and sustainability of current and new cooperative models. It was discussed how cooperatives can be smart, inclusive, and sustainable as to adapt to 21st-century challenges, how cooperatives can combine business with ethical principles, and how we need not only economic, but also social, environmental, and health indicators to measure success of cooperatives.

In the afternoon, the participants split up in four parallel groups to discuss and work on a real-life case study. Participants read case study and scientific materials before coming to the workshop. During the discussion, participants had to formulate a scientific question on the topic, discuss appropriate research methods, conclude on a suitable theoretical approach, and formulate policy recommendations. The topics of the four case studies were: 1) Resilience and sustainability - a case of organic producer organizations in Uruguay; 2) Innovation and new models – a case of employment cooperatives in the UK and Argentina; 3) Governance - a case of cocoa cooperatives in Ghana; and 4) Performance measurement and impact studies - a case of Fair Trade coffee cooperatives. Results of the parallel groups were presented in plenary at the end of the workshop.  

Participants reflected enthusiastically on the Young Scholar Workshop. A few opinions: “The keynote lectures were an inspiring way to get started”,  “I like the methodology used in the workshop & the case study discussion was very informative”, and “it is great to have a discussion with other youngscholars whose background is various”.

A synthesis of the Young Scholars Workshop results was presented at the closing session of the ICA 2018 Research Conference, on 6 July.

Are you a Young Scholar that is interested in the topic of Cooperatives?

You can join our networks! The Young Scholars Initiative from the Institute of New Economic Thinking has a working group on Cooperatives: The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) as a young scholar programme:

The Young Scholar Workshop on Cooperatives was organized by:

Esther Schmitt, Filippos Stamatiou, Natalia Duarte Cáceres and Julia Höhler from the YSI Working Group on Cooperatives, Paola Raffaelli from the ICA Young Scholar Programme, and Annemarie Groot Kormelinck from Wageningen University & Research.

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