MEC — a large Canadian retail co-operative that specializes in outdoor activity equipment — implemented a number of controversial changes three years ago to strengthen the knowledge and skill sets at its board table and to ensure its governance structure could continue to guide the growing company.
Formerly known as Mountain Equipment Co-op, MEC was started by a small group of friends from the University of British Colombia who found they couldn’t buy good quality climbing gear in Canada. Since its inception in 1971, it has grown to twenty stores across the country, with 4.5 million members and $366 million in annual sales. With this growth and the expectation of further growth, the co-op felt it needed a more experienced board to navigate not only its scope, but also the increasingly competitive market for the goods it sells. Continue reading →
We have recently added a “Recommended” section to our blog that contains links to material on co-operatives and credit unions that we believe will be of interest to readers. This menu item features a collection of curated content in three general subcategories: Reading, Viewing, and Listening. On each of these pages, you will discover links to books and articles, videos, blog posts, and podcasts. We have provided titles, authors and speakers where appropriate, and brief descriptions. Continue reading →
Much attention is focused this week on Motion M-100, which asks Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) to establish a national co-operative development strategy in Canada. The motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons on 5 April 2017, sending a clear message to the Government of Canada. Continue reading →
The co-operative model has long been used to provide childcare services in Canada and other countries and may offer a solution to the long waiting lists and the high cost of childcare that have frustrated parents with young children and deterred them from returning to work. Continue reading →
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 →
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-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 →
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.
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 →
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.
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.”
Click on image for larger version
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 →