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

If Not Now, When?

Murray Fulton and Dionne Pohler

dionne-pohler

Dionne Pohler

Murray Fulton

The question posed above is the entirely appropriate title of an October 2016 report by Central 1 on possible futures for the centrals in the Canadian credit union system (read the report here). As the report indicates, low margins, increasing competition, rapid technological change, increasingly diverse expectations for member services, and new and often unfavourable regulatory environments make it clear that the status quo is unsustainable and change is required at the second-tier level. Continue reading

Governance Issues in European Co-ops: Are There Lessons Here for Their Canadian Cousins?

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Markus Hanisch

The Centre’s second annual MacPherson Talk featured Dr. Markus Hanisch, managing director of the Institute for Research on Co-operatives at Humboldt University in Berlin.

Hanisch’s presentation — “Changing Governance in European Co-operatives: Simply Shifting or Losing Control?” — outlined a series of innovations occurring in European co-operative governance and the impact of these changes on co-operative performance. Based on data from 571 farmer co-operatives in the European Union, Hanisch concluded that co-operatives that have implemented certain governance innovations — professionalising and allowing outsiders to join their boards of directors, recruiting larger boards, and creating a governance model in which the co-op acts as a holding structure — have improved their performance. The research also notes, however, that these shifts towards corporate governance structures may affect member control. Continue reading