Co-operatives and credit unions play a critical role in the economy and society, meeting needs and allowing for the expression of interests and values that are often not satisfied by other organizations. While informal co-operation has been a part of human interaction since time immemorial, the development of formal co-ops took place largely over the last two hundred years. The impetus for co-ops was, not surprisingly, the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s and the economic, social, and political changes it unleashed. We are living today in a world that is once again seeing massive changes in technology, which in turn are leading to a major reshaping of the economy and society. As they have done over the past two hundred years, credit unions and co-operatives of all kinds are playing a role in this change.
The purpose of Contemplating Co-ops is to explore what co-operatives and credit unions are doing today (and occasionally what they did in the past). In this blog, we will consider everything from how co-ops and credit unions allocate internal control and authority, to the challenges they face in dealing with issues such as food security and environmental protection, to the ways in which they may or may not work in new settings such as Indigenous communities. Understanding the role co-ops are playing is important because it sheds light on how people in local communities and from around the world are using an organization that they own and control to alter, in some way, the world in which they live.
Authored by faculty and staff at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and by our colleagues from around the world, the blog posts will be drawn from the research we are doing and observations we make on what is happening among credit unions and co-operatives. We hope the posts stimulate your thinking on co-ops and provide you with new perspectives and insights. And we want to hear what you think, so don’t hesitate to comment on the posts or send us notes.
Director, Centre for the Study of Co-operatives
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