A meeting with successful co-op leaders

Constructing a tool for testing your co-operative intuition and then your successful entry (or presence) into the world of co-operatives took more than half a year of my fellowship.  I hope you will like the result as it allows you to confront your knowledge with the knowledge of experienced experts in the fields of co-operatives. Some test respondents have found this tool the most interesting one in the whole set of tests.

Imagine you have a chance to sit with an experienced co-op leader and ask him how he would deal with this or that problem. In essence, the tool is about this.

Development of the tool

But why such a strange tool rather than a list of co-operative management concepts as found in business and economics? I must say I was sure I would prepare the list in a similar way. I asked several co-op professors to draw maps of co-operative management; I thought I would make a list of the most common concepts, and it would be done. Unfortunately, every map was different, and there was no single conceptual pattern I could use. For me, as a psychologist, it looked as if co-operative management had most probably a form of practical intelligence or tacit knowledge or intuition. Out of the expert conceptual maps, I delineated ten most important themes. I enumerated the themes below:

Values and needs domain

  1. The appreciating diversity of values among members.
  2. Balancing between individual and social needs
  3. Finding a fit between personal values and the type of organization that people develop.
  4. Maintaining the co-op’s sensitivity to members’ changing needs in a timely fashion.

Co-operative cohesion domain

  1. Promoting psychological unity within a co-op — creating community.
  2. Ensuring a high quality of decision making in a co-op.
  3. Prioritizing the role of governance systems in a co-op.

Co-operative management process

  1. Building strategy in a co-op.
  2. Ensuring the effectiveness of organizational systems in a co-op.
  3. Ensuring the specificity of business management processes in a co-op.

Then I asked two co-operative practitioners to give me examples of practical situations where they encountered problems related to those themes. I created 20 case studies with ten solutions for each. I invited two English, one Scottish, one American and two Canadian co-op leaders to evaluate the possible solutions. Then I found out in what cases the experts agreed most, and where not. Out of 20 cases, I left ten where there were more agreements among experts.

I will ask you to evaluate the same 10 cases and the validity of possible solutions. In your assessments, you will read how your answers differ from those of experts and other persons participating in this project. In this way, you will have a rare opportunity to compare your knowledge with the knowledge of experts in co-operative management.

Warning: this tool may take more time than other tools, but remember you can always stop, save your answers and resume it later on.

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