Conventus-verkefnið og ,,hið
lærða samvinnufélagsform”
Cooperative knowledge transfer through the Conventus-project
Dr Sigrún Lilja Einarsdóttir
Lektor / Assistant professor
Bifröst University
Aims of the project
• To create greater understanding and knowledge of the situation of
cooperatives in Europe among cooperators themselves
• To strengthen cooperator’s self-esteem, cooperative identity and
entrepreneurial skills
• To collect and create learning modules for cooperatives,
cooperators, members, managers and employees of cooperatives
• Partners:
Kemi-Tornio University of Applied Science, Finland
Coompanion Cooperative Development Agency of Skaraborg, Sweden
Federazione Trentina della Cooperazione, Italy
National Cooperative Council, Poland
Centre for Retail Studies, Bifröst University, Iceland
Osuustoiminnan Kehittäjät - Coop Finland
Iceland’s involvement – why?
• Negative general attitudes
– Associated with the collapse of the cooperative
movement in the 1990s
– Negative political debate, corruption
• Little knowledge on the cooperative form and its
• Around 31 registered cooperatives in Iceland
• No existing up-to-date learning materials or
modules for cooperatives
• Cooperative legislation needs to be updated
5 Modules of cooperative learning
1. History, ideology and status of the cooperative movement
– What is a cooperative?
– The cooperative principles
– Different forms of cooperatives
2. Being a cooperative member
– Active, cooperative membership
– What do cooperative principles say about membership
3. Establishing a new cooperative
– How to start a cooperative
– Creating a cooperative business plan
4. Managing a cooperative
5. Training and development of existing cooperatives
How do the cooperative principles apply in
the contemporary Nordic society?
Voluntary and open membership
Cooperatives are open to all who want to become members
Little investment, possible for all
Democratic member control
One member, one vote
Less risk-taking
Member economic participation
Profit used for further development of the cooperative
Members get a fair share in the profit (discounts and other offers)
Autonomy and independence
Cooperatives are controlled by their members and not subject to hostile takeovers
Education, training and information
To strengthen the cooperative identity and emphasize the awareness and meaning of the
cooperative values and principles
Cooperation among cooperatives
Instead of competition, cooperation is the key
Concern for community
Increased awareness on sustainable development and social responsibility
The cooperative form - why?
• Public anger and frustration towards big, private
enterprises in the aftermath of the 2008 economic
• Corruption, lobbyism and political involvement of
finance owners and enterprises
• Call for democracy, fairness, sustainable development
and increased social responsibility
• Cooperatives fared better during and after the
recession due to low risk-taking (Fici / Euricse, 2011)
• Cooperatives are relevant today
Next steps
• Informed, public debate on the cooperative form
– Deal with the past, but do not dwell on it
– Focus on future potentials
• Increased public awareness on the potentials of
the cooperative form
• Support future cooperators and entrepreneurs
• The government should, with an open mind, look
into how the cooperative form can best be used
in public service
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