Research conference confirms new cooperative trends in Europe

26 Jul 2018

With more than 175 participants from 25 countries and 96 paper presentations, the European Committee of Cooperative Research (CCR) Research Conference was held on 4-6 July, 2018, in Wegeningen, the Netherlands. During the conference, various issues around cooperatives were discussed through 3 keynote speeches, 3 plenary sessions, 25 parallel sessions and 14 posters. The next CCR Europe research conference will be held in 2019, Berlin, Germany.

On 4 July, after two parallel pre-events of ‘Young Scholars Workshop’ with 35 young scholars and ‘Business Meets Science’ organised by Dutch Council for Cooperatives, the conference started with welcome speeches made by Dr. Arthur Mol, Rector Magnificus Wageningen University and Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Cooperative Alliance.

During two intensely programmed days, three keynote speakers made presentations on Rabobank (Wiebe Draijer, CEO of Rabobank, who stated: “we are not a niche, cooperatives are the best answers to key world problems”), International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s role in cooperative promotion (Simel Esim, Head of Cooperatives Unit, ILO, who emphasised that  Cooperatives can “actively contribute to shape the world we want”) and general perspective on cooperative studies (Murray Fulton, University of Saskatchewan).

The Cooperatives Europe Development Platform (CEDP) presented the research paper "Good practices in international cooperative development" available here. The document maps the CEDP activities in diverse geographic and thematic areas, showcasing good practices and tools used by members. This research was carried out in the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership (#coops4dev) and led by Cooperatives Europe, The Co-operative College, Coopermondo-Confcooperative and Kooperationen, and supported by all CEDP members.

Three plenary sessions were dedicated to essential issues such as future challenges and solutions for cooperatives, cooperative statistics and performance and innovations in cooperatives. Each parallel session was heated up by young and senior scholars.  

New trends in cooperative research

At the closing session, Professor Ruerd Ruben, Wageningen University summed up the trends and tendencies in cooperative research he had observed throughout the conference:

  • growth of cooperatives in new areas: energy, digital, health, elderly care and platform cooperatives;
  • role of cooperatives in change processes: organic foods, social innovation, climate change adaptation, women empowerment and voice for indigenous groups;
  • search for uniform definitions, standardized data and standard procedure;
  • understanding cooperative adjustment: competition, mergers, consolidation, life cycle, platform, and,
  • digging into cooperative / social behaviour: learning processes, democratic deficit, co-creation and belief.

The conference was organised by five Dutch universities (Erasmus University, Maastricht University, Tilburg University, Utrecht University and Wageningen University), the Dutch Council for Cooperatives (NCR) and CCR Europe.


Caption: Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Cooperative Alliance. Photos by Mrs. Annemarie Groot Kormelinck, PhD student of Wageningen University.

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