Social enterprise, co-operatives and mutuality
This section of my website offers a selection of my writings on issues relating to co-operative forms of business, community-based social enterprise and mutuality. Click here for my journalism on these themes. I would also encourage you to read and respond to my regular postings on my blog, Bibby on cooperatives.
Cooperatives with multi-stakeholder membership: learning from the experience
of an early British experiment.
This paper was written in 2015 and presented at the ILO/ICA
Cooperatives and World of Work research conference. My Powerpoint
presentation is also available on the
Published June 2015:
All Our Own Work
My history of the workers who successfully ran their own
textile mill, one of the most significant of Britain's nineteenth century
manufacturing cooperatives, is now available (published Merlin
I have also written a very short account of this
The Workers who ran their own mill, as an online educational
resource for the National Co-operative Archive. You may need to update your
internet browser to fully enjoy this.
Good practice guidance for cooperatives on social and environmental performance (submission to the International Co-operative Alliance, March 2014)
Co-ops UK Case studies (2013): I have written the following six case studies for Co-ops UK: 1: West Highland Free Press; 2: Co-operative Energy; 3: Nisa; 4: Anglia Farmers; 5: The Wine Society; 6: Delta-T Devices
Cooperative Advocacy: A Practical Guide for Advocating Cooperative Legal and Regulatory Reform (Nov 2013) For the US Overseas Cooperative Development Council, as part of the CLARITY (The Cooperative Law and Regulation Initiative) project.
After the Crash: Building a new economic future the co-operative way. (Nov 2009) This report, commissioned by the Co-operative Group, suggests that the co-operative business model offers a way to build strong, profitable businesses which are sustainable in the long-term, both environmentally and financially. Includes several case studies.
From Colleagues to Owners: transferring ownership to employees. A report (June 2009) for the Employee Ownership Association with ten case studies (including Martin Currie, Wilkin and Son, Herga, UBH International, CPCR, AG Parfett & Sons, GLL, Child Base).
My report Meeting housing needs the Co-operative way is published by Co-operatives UK. Two short extracts, published in New Sector magazine, can also be accessed.
Tanzania's co-operatives look to the future (written Jan 2006) reports on the country's co-op reform and modernisation programme.
The quest for capital in values-driven businesses. This is an expanded version of material contributed to the book Co-operative Capital (published Autumn 2004 by Co-operative Action - news story here) . The report explores the relationship between ethical/socially responsible investors and co-operatives/social enterprises. Includes an overview of ethical investment in the UK, 'alternative' share issues, and ethical venture capital. Short case studies include Traidcraft, Centre for Alternative Technology, Bay Wind.
The report Financial participation by employees in co-operatives in Britain includes an overview of the UK co-operative movement, an analysis of use by UK consumer co-ops of all-employee share ownership plans, and information on financial investment by members of workers' co-ops. The report was written in 2004 for the European project Confidence.
Three in-depth case studies (written late 2001) are available here:
Warning: the information contained in these case studies (prepared as teaching material for post-graduate students at the University of East London) is based on research undertaken more than twelve years ago. Poptel, in particular, experienced significant changes since then (see article below for more information).
My paper Co-operative Working and Community Projects (1986-7) is primarily of historical interest. Written over twenty-five years ago, it raised issues (including co-operative delivery of public services and 'stakeholder' approaches to co-operative structures) more widely debated today. And from even deeper in the archives comes an article Co-ops: Thinking politically written in 1979 for the magazine In The Making, exploring some of the contradictions facing co-ops operating within a capitalist economic system.
From my recent contributions to The Guardian's cooperatives and mutuals on-line hub, I've selected the following:
Recent work for other publications:
A Better Way of Doing Business?: Lessons from the John Lewis Partnership
(book review), (Co-operative News, 2016)
The co-operative disadvantage: why the movement needs a level playing
field (Co-operative News, 2015)
Credit unions facing the challenges (Co-operative News,
The Right to Buy extension oculd threaten community-led housing (Co-operative
- Portrait of a chief executive: Jens Henriksson (Folksam, Sweden) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2014)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Aristotle Alip (CARD) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2014)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Markus Hongler (Mobiliar) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2014)
- Receivers called in at Mondragon cooperative (Co-operative News, Nov 2013)
Some articles for The Guardian in 2013:
Articles for The Guardian from 2012:
Other journalism in recent years:
- Book review: Building Co-operation, 150 Years of the Co-operative Group (Co-operative News, 2013)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Hilde Vernaillen (P+V) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2013)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Rafael Moliterno Neto (Seguros Unimed) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2013)
- Credit unions offer an alternative to high-cost loan sharks (Choice, 2013)
- Aftermath of an earthquake: why AMI had to demutualise (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2012)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Andrew Haigh (Engage Mutual) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2012)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Tan Suee Chieh (NTUC, Singapore) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2012)
- Preventing the end-of-the-pier show in Hastings (Choice, 2011)
- Cinema in focus for community takeover (LGC, 2011)
- Public sector workers fight forced mutualisation (PCS View, 2011)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Raúl Colombetti (Sancor) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2011)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Wolfgang Weiler (HUK-Coburg) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2011)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Mogens Skov (Købstædernes Forsikring) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2011)
- Ed Mayo: leading the UK's cooperatives (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2011)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Syed Moheeb (Takaful Ikhlas) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2011)
Work for other publications, 2007-2010
- Portrait of a chief executive: Anders Sundström (Folksam)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2010)
- Cooperatives and the Crisis: "Our customers are also our owners" (World of Work magazine, 2010) Also available in French and Spanish
- Harnessing the river Ribble's power in Settle (Choice, 2010)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Lindsay Sinclair (NFU Mutual)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2010)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Juan Carlos Lucio Godoy (Río Uruguay) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2009)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Kazumi Imao (Zenkyoren, Japan)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2009)
- Portrait of a chief executive: Grzegorz Buczkowski (TUW SKOK)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2009)
- Children's nursery chain Child Base moves towards employee ownership (Financial Times, 2009)
- Canadian insurer The Co-operators aims for sustainability (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2008)
- Profile of a chief executive: Friedrich Caspers (R+V) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2008)
- Profile of a chief executive: Rolf-Peter Hoenen (HUK-Coburg insurers)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2008)
- Phone Co-op proves there's life yet in the old consumer co-operative model (Financial Times, 2008)
- Co-operative solutions to housing problems (New Sector, 2008)
- Co-housing: combining the benefits of private space and communal living (New Sector, 2008)
- On track: how communities are working to defend their rail services (Choice magazine, 2008)
- Transferring public assets into community ownership (Choice magazine, 2008)
- An introduction to social enterprise (Choice magazine, 2008)
- Profile of a chief executive: Asmo Kalpala (Tapiola, Finland)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2008)
- Profile of a chief executive: Jacques Forest (P&V cooperative insurers, Belgium) (ICMIF Voice magazine, 2007)
Journalism (up to 2007)
- Profile of a chief executive: Tamotsu Ishikawa (Zenrosai cooperative insurers, Japan)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2007)
- Profile of a chief executive: John Balmforth (AMI mutual, New Zealand)(ICMIF Voice magazine, 2007)
- Standing on their own two feet: cooperative reform in Tanzania (ILO, 2006) Also in French and Spanish.
- A personal stake: why employee-owned businesses return more than a profit (World of Work, 2006) Also in French and Spanish.
- The boss who gave away the business (Herga) (Financial Times, 2006)
- Employee ownership: when workers own their companies (Financial Times, 2005)
- Car clubs - how sharing vehicles can save money (Observer, 2005)
- How the ILO is promoting the Promotion of Co-operatives Recommendation (World of Work, 2005) Also in French and Spanish.
- Community investment in good food (Observer, 2005)
- The role of co-ops for development in Africa (Developments, 2005)
- Let's talk about capital for co-operatives, says researcher Jim Brown (Co-operatives, 2005)
- Employee buy-outs can offer a welcome exit route for owners (Financial Times, 2004)
- A profile of Triodos Bank (Observer, 2004)
- Fair trade company Cafe Direct looks for ethically-minded shareholders (Observer, 2004)
- The revival of the co-operative idea: the ILO Co-operatives Recommendation one year on (World of Work. 2003) Also in French and Spanish.
- Poptel: how one workers' co-op was taken over by its investors (Financial Times, 2003)
- APOs: how 'Alternative Public Offerings' for ethically minded shareholders are developing in Britain (Observer, 2003)
- Employee-owned UBH International looks to China for strategic partnership (Financial Times, 2003)
- Capital needs for employee-owned businesses (Financial Times, 2002)
- Suma workers co-operative 25 years on (Financial Times, 2002)
- Ethical Property Company looks for supportive shareholders (Observer, 2002)
- Renewable Energy Investment Club launches (Observer, 2002)
- Financial protection for UK credit unions (Observer, 2002)
- Co-ops get new .coop top level domain (Commercial client, 2002)
- Yorkshire Dales community bid for capital to reopen railway link (Observer, 2002)
- Building societies, mutuality and member democracy (Observer, 2001)
- Time banks in Britain (Observer, 2001)
- Trying to save the Robin Hood: one Yorkshire communitys efforts to reopen a rural pub (Observer, 2001)
- A new currency in south London: the arrival of 'time money' in Lewisham(Observer, 2000)
- Community banking to help tackle social exclusion to financial services? (Housing magazine, 1999)
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