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The Co-op Research Project (CRP) will bring co-op researchers, practitioners and support system professionals together to focus on building a strong co-op knowledge base which in turn will strengthen cooperatives, the communities in which they exist and ultimately, democracy overall. Working together, we will be stronger.
The purpose of the CRP at the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University-Bloomington is to understand the societal/social value of the cooperative business model and to link this knowledge base with strengthening cooperatives in our communities. Cooperatives are a community asset, yet the existing body of research does not reflect that reality. We intend to meet this critical need through in our research initiative via three focal areas:
1. Education, Advocacy & Public Policy
- Building a national cooperative research network with a coordinated research agenda and centralized research knowledge base.
- Engaging the university system in educating, training, and performing research on the cooperative business model.
- Facilitating research that leads to policy building and pro-actively advocate for reforms that promote cooperative development and maximize the development outcomes
- Encouraging the next generation of youth participation in cooperatives through enhanced understanding of the cooperative model in the classroom and public arena.
2. Community & Economic Development
- Facilitating research leading to deeper understanding of cooperatives at the community level and their economic/non-economic impact including wealth retention, non-financial community benefits, democracy development, staying power during economic down-turns and community asset building; working together with community stakeholders and other cooperatives to grow the impact of cooperatives on community
- Facilitating communication about co-op community and economic knowledge between researchers community and economic developers, co-op leaders and support system professionals.
3. Governance & Leadership
- Facilitating research leading to a deeper understanding of how to optimize owner engagement leading to strengthened cooperatives and community; how boards, management and staff can work together to improve strategic and operational decision making, action and cooperative entrepreneurship; building alignment between community, owners, cooperative business units and markets
- Facilitating communication regarding governance and leadership between researchers community and economic developers, co-op leaders and support system professionals.
We view this research process as taking place over three major phases:
Phase 1: Connecting the Current Dots
- Identify and connect a core network of cooperative researchers to build a cohesive research agenda with clear outcomes.
- Assess what is known about the community and governance aspects of cooperatives, and identify critical gaps in our knowledge.
- Collaborate on building a tiered research agenda to fill the holes in scholarship.
- Identify and connect a core set of CRP practitioners and support system professionals and link them with the research design, implementation and sharing of findings.
- Present updates on the initiative and research findings at cooperative association conferences.
Phase 2: Conducting Research
- Continue advancing the initiatives in Phase 1
- Design and implement identified research programs
- Build a centralized repository for information sharing amongst cooperative scholars.
- Coordinate data collection from the national associations
Phase 3: Sharing the Knowledge
- Continue advancing Phase 1 and Phase 2.
- Produce peer-reviewed scholarship.
- Encourage thought pieces by industry leaders based upon scholarly findings to advance theory and practice.
- Advance cooperative public policy based upon empirical evidence.
- Build further support for long-term research.
We expect to produce a vibrant website, openly sharing our research findings, while also engaging the broader cooperative sector. The website will serve to stimulate new cooperative entrepreneurship and development, while also enhancing existing cooperative businesses through information sharing and engagement with the public.
Working together, we can make the Co-op Research Project be an important component of the International Year of the Cooperative and contribute to making this the decade of the cooperative!