Banking on the Upsell: Lessons for Credit Unions

Dionne Pohler

Image credit below

Across Canada and the United States, major banks are facing public scrutiny after media reports that employees feel intense pressure to mislead customers in order to meet unrealistic sales targets and avoid losing their jobs. Is this an opportunity for credit unions to show that they treat their members — their customers — differently? Continue reading

Power Struggle: Rural Electrification in Alberta

Danielle Potter

Source: Website of the Rocky Rural Electrification Association (http://www.rockyrea.com/about/history)

 

 

In his Fredeen Scholarship seminar, Eric Neudorf outlined how Alberta’s private power companies in the 1940s were able to change the regulatory landscape in a way that profoundly disadvantaged the rural electrical associations, with the result that today they are having difficulty surviving. How did this happen? Continue reading

Co-ops, Privatization, and Public Policy

Murray Fulton, Brett Fairbairn, and Dionne Pohler

Co-operatives have an important role to play in the economy. Understanding this role is particularly important when markets are undergoing major changes — as in the case of privatization.

The privatization of liquor retailing stores in Saskatchewan provides an excellent example of the need to understand the role co-operatives play in creating well-functioning markets. In this post, we revisit the argument we made in a recent StarPhoenix/Leader-Post op-ed piece and suggest that, according to its privatization announcement, the Saskatchewan government fails to understand this role. Continue reading

Harold Chapman, Order of Canada 2016

Nora Russell

We are thrilled to acknowledge long-time Centre supporter Harold Chapman’s investiture into the Order of Canada! Harold has been a stalwart of the Centre for years, a devoted attendee of our conferences, workshops, and seminars and always among the first to comment, share experiences, and make suggestions about initiatives the Centre might usefully undertake in the future.

Harold Chapman

We recently worked with Harold to co-publish his memoir, Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement, and have further connections with him through our mutual, long-term involvement with a number of co-op organizations. Foremost among these is the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE), an international organization dedicated to co-op education. Harold was a founding member of the association and its first vice-president, and ACE and the Centre are frequent participants, sponsors, and partners in each other’s events. Harold also has a longstanding commitment to the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation, whose administrative home is at the Centre, and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association (SCA), whose board is regularly peopled by Centre personnel. And as with the Centre’s activities, Harold rarely misses an SCA event: he is always an enthusiastic participant, and was recently honoured with SCA’s Co-operative Contribution Award. Continue reading

Top Co-op Issues: Action Items

Nora Russell

As noted in the first post on this topic, Top Co-op Issues 2017 surveyed CEOs, board members, managers, and academics across Canada to obtain a snapshot of the most pressing concerns facing co-operative organizations today. This entry will discuss some of the many action items suggested by respondents. Although they provided clear advice on all twenty themes, the focus in this post is on the actions associated with the top six.

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Click on chart for larger image.

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Top Co-op Issues 2017

Nora Russell

In our second annual survey of Top Co-op Issues, we asked co-operative leaders across Canada to identify the most pressing concerns facing co-operative organizations today. According to CEOs, board members, managers, and academics in virtually every region and sector, the number one issue for co-op leaders is public awareness of the co-operative model — the lack of it, that is. As one person commented, “Raising the profile of co-ops in a noisy marketplace is difficult.”

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We conducted the survey as part of our mission to understand the world of co-ops and make that knowledge accessible. The results published here hold a mirror to the co-op sector, not only identifying important issues but also providing clear areas for collaboration for both advocacy and research. We selected our informants based on their specialized knowledge about co-ops. The 2017 survey included a sample similar to last year’s — CEOs, board members, managers, and academics balanced by region, sector, and role within the co-op. Their knowledge is invaluable because it is extensive, detailed, and privileged. Continue reading

Member Representation

Brett Fairbairn and Murray Fulton

Image credit below

In our Two-Hats post, we argue that directors of a second-tier co-operative must put the interests of that organization first when they are actively engaged with the board. This, in turn, means they cannot act as a “representative” of their first-tier organization while sitting on a second-tier board. But, if this is the case, where does representation occur?

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Crowding In and Crowding Out

Murray Fulton

In a previous post, I outlined how a failure to find the right balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations can lead to a crowding-out effect in which the introduction of more extrinsic incentives results in poorer, rather than better, performance. With the right balance, however, extrinsic motivations can significantly enhance performance — the crowding-in effect.

Crowding-in and crowding-out effects can have a real impact on how decisions are made, on the effectiveness of policy, and on the performance of organizations, including co-operatives. Here are a couple of examples. Continue reading

The Two-Hat Problem

Murray Fulton and Brett Fairbairn

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Images courtesy clipart-library.com

The following question was recently posed to us regarding governance models for second-tier co-operative organizations such as federated wholesalers and financial centrals: Is there an expectation that board members must think about the interests of the second-tier organization or should they represent their home organization?

This question nicely encapsulates what Glen Tully, chair of the Centre’s Management Advisory Board, calls the Two-Hat Problem. When board members have two hats they can wear, which one should they put on? Continue reading

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations

by Murray Fulton

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See source below

In a recent post on future options for the credit union system in Canada, Dionne Pohler and I argued that to be effective and meet the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders, the new system must rely on a mix of both extrinsic and intrinsic incentives. What are these two types of incentives? And why are they important?

Extrinsic motivations are monetary rewards or penalties such as pay-for-performance schemes and financial payments for not complying with rules and regulations. Extrinsic incentives work, it is believed, because people make decisions based on the financial costs and benefits of the options they face.

Intrinsic motivations, in contrast, can be observed in the desire to undertake activities simply because they are enjoyable or because they generate satisfaction — the wish to do a job well or to undertake a task because it leads to some greater good. The mission motivation that drives the behaviour of many people is a good example of an intrinsic incentive. Continue reading