Each year the United Nations identifies an issue of global importance and uses that time to raise awareness about it in the international community. The 2012 International Year of Cooperatives recognizes the diversity of the cooperative movement around the world and its contribution to socio-economic developments, such as poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration.
In Part 1 of this series introduced the International Year, while Part 2 looked at a range of examples of cooperative operations around the world. In Part 3, we will see how business schools are exploring this topic in their programmes.
Some business schools provide specialized programmes focused on cooperatives. A leading programme is Saint Mary’s University in Canada’s Master of Management Co-operatives and Credit Unions which is designed to improve students’ understanding of management within the context of the co-operative economic model.
SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy created a Master in Management of Social Enterprises, Not for Profit Organizations and Cooperativesbased on intensive dialogue and discussion with the cooperatives themselves. Again in Canada, L’Université du Québec à Montréal offers a specialization in cooperatives and social organizations. They also bring in the topic of cooperatives across their programmes and initiatives, emphasizing cooperatives management during orientation activities and maintaining an endowed faculty chair on the subject.
Cornell University’s Cooperative Enterprise Program aims to enhance the performance of existing cooperative businesses and facilitate the development of emerging cooperative enterprise through teaching, research, and outreach. The CEP has grown out of a long-standing outreach effort at Cornell to agricultural cooperative businesses.
A few Business schools have Centers for Cooperatives. The University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives has a dedicated site for the International Year of Cooperatives with a wealth of information including how to start a coop. They also have links to research they have done around the economic impacts of cooperatives in the US.
Gustavson School of Business in Canada incorporates cooperatives into several of their courses. The international finance course includes frequent discussions based on current news from international financial markets, and students present in class on the topic of financial co-operative institutions and their role in developing countries. They also have an active interdisciplinary Centre for Co-operative and Community-Based Economy.
Some schools also provide space for cooperatives to develop. ISAE/FGV for example has Technological Incubators for Popular Cooperatives (ITCP), in partnership with the Stickel Foundation. These incubators have been working with two solidarity and inclusive enterprises created by women from the Brasilândia, a low‐income neighbourhood in São Paulo: Doces Talentos, an organic catering service; and Brasilianas, a sustainable fashion project.
Is your school providing programmes on Cooperatives? Share your examples in the comments area below.