Governance

Publications (by Dionne Pohler)

Publications (by Dionne Pohler)

Governance as a Determinant of Success and Failure: What Other Co-ops Can Learn from Co-op Atlantic

Governance Co-ops

Co-op Atlantic is not the first federation of retail co-operatives to fail. Others have failed in Québec, France, Germany, and elsewhere. Co-op Atlantic’s story is a recent example of a pattern from which others can learn. We believe it is important for other co-operatives to pay attention to lessons from Co-op Atlantic’s story — lessons that in our view ultimately come down to governance choices and behaviours.

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Governance as a Determinant of Success and Failure: What Other Co-ops Can Learn from Co-op Atlantic

Fairbairn, B., Fulton, M., & Pohler, D. (November 2015) Governance as a Determinant of Success and Failure: What Other Co-ops Can Learn from Co-op Atlantic. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives: University of Saskatchewan.

In 2012, Co-op Atlantic observed its eighty-fifth anniversary and was celebrated as the largest co-operative in Atlantic Canada. As a federation of local retail co-operatives, Co-op Atlantic’s role was to strengthen and support the member co-ops, in particular by providing wholesale goods and services to them in three core areas: food, petroleum products, and agricultural supplies. Its president told delegates present at the annual meeting that “Co-op Atlantic has shown its ability to transform itself, while remaining an essential link between communities of the Atlantic region.” Three years later, in May 2015, the co-op sold its grocery and gasoline business to rival Sobeys. And after filing for bankruptcy protection, Co-op Atlantic proceeded systematically to sell its remaining assets. In October 2015, the co-op sold its fuel business — Co-op Energy — to CST Canada, another private company. Finally, in November 2015, the co-op announced the sale of most of its remaining agricultural supply business to La Coopérative fédérée du Québec. Farmers and the surviving retail co-ops in the region now obtain products and services from these new suppliers. The dream of a united co-operative system span ning the chain from farmers to consumers has come to an end. Co-op Atlantic operated for eighty-eight years and helped sustain consumers, farmers, employees, and communities as co-operatives typically do. An enterprise that survives for more than three generations is not a flawed model. However, Co-op Atlantic’s demise represents a loss of future possibilities. Could it have been prevented? Can other co-ops prevent such a turn of events?

Co-op Atlantic is not the first federation of retail co-operatives to fail. Others have failed in Québec, France, Germany, and elsewhere. Co-op Atlantic’s story is a recent example of a pattern from which others can learn. We believe it is important for other co-operatives to pay attention to lessons from Co-op Atlantic’s story — lessons that in our view ultimately come down to governance choices and behaviours.

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2018-01-15 18:51:13

Credit Unions in Canada: Design Principles for Greater Co-operation

Governance Co-ops

The Canadian credit union system is facing unprecedented challenges, and credit union leaders are struggling with how to structure their governance arrangements, not only within their own organizations but also at the system level. This report highlights the efficiency-autonomy trade-off that is present in co-operation among credit unions.

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Credit Unions in Canada: Design Principles for Greater Co-operation

Fulton, M., Fairbairn, B., & Pohler, D. (September 2017) Credit Unions in Canada: Design Principles for Greater Co-operation. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives: University of Saskatchewan. Blog summary here.

In attempting to create new national organizations, Canadian credit unions face a trade-off between efficiency and autonomy. The consolidation of the credit union system is ultimately a problem of governance. Unless a governance structure is found that fosters shared norms and values in addition to economic benefits, it is unlikely that credit unions as a system will be able to overcome free-riding behaviour, foster trust and legitimacy, and adapt and respond to a rapidly changing and uncertain environment. All these challenges must be met if the credit union system is to achieve the efficiencies required to operate in Canada’s highly competitive financial industry. This paper identifies six design principles that can contribute to the good governance of a new national organization. These principles have proven valuable in achieving co-operation in a range of other settings, two examples of which are also discussed in the report.

 

The Canadian credit union system is facing unprecedented challenges, and credit union leaders are struggling with how to structure their governance arrangements, not only within their own organizations but also at the system level. This report highlights the efficiency-autonomy trade-off that is present in co-operation among credit unions.

/storage/files/Credit Unions and Co-operation FINAL.pdf
2017-10-17 02:21:34

Federated Co-operatives Limited: Change Management

Governance Employment Relations Co-ops

Federated Co-operatives Limited struggles with implementing massive organizational changes in talent management, technology, and branding.

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Federated Co-operatives Limited: Change Management

Pohler, D. (2016) Federated Co-operatives Limited: Change Management. Ivey Publishing.

In 2013, after almost three years of making organizational changes, the chief executive officer of Federated Co-Operatives Limited (FCL) wondered if he was pushing his unique company through a transformation too quickly or if he was not pushing hard enough to modernize the company. FCL was a co-operative, a remnant of a farmers’ purchasing association that had grown to become one of the 50 largest companies in Canada. However, the company’s financial success and democratic governance structure had lulled FCL into a situation characterized by outdated processes and systems. Information technology, branding, leadership, and talent management processes needed to be transformed, and a culture change was necessary to move forward. But some employees were resisting, possibly as a result of burnout due to the magnitude of change or the co-operative governance structure that complicated the process of change. The chief executive officer needed to address his employees at a questions and answers session about the progress of the transformation. What should he tell them?

Federated Co-operatives Limited struggles with implementing massive organizational changes in talent management, technology, and branding.

2017-01-24 21:55:03

Co-operative Innovation Project

Governance Inequality Co-ops Public Policy Development

We need to take the co-operative business model more seriously as an economic and social development tool for rural and Indigenous communities in Western Canada.

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Co-operative Innovation Project

Fulton, M., Pohler., D., Massie, M., Overlander, D., & Wu, H. (2016) Co-operative Innovation Project. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives: University of Saskatchewan.

Pohler, D., & Fulton, M. (Nov 8, 2013) Why we should take the co-operative business model more seriously. Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

Fulton, M., & Pohler, D. (2014) Co-operative Development in Rural and Aboriginal Communities. Saskatchewan Business Magazine, April/May.

We visited communities from British Columbia to Manitoba, spoke with over two thousand people by phone, had over 350 community administrators answer a web-based survey about their community, and had a chance to learn from co-op developers on the ground about the intricacies and challenges of co-operative development in rural and Indigenous communities.

We need to take the co-operative business model more seriously as an economic and social development tool for rural and Indigenous communities in Western Canada.

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2017-01-24 02:46:21

Governance and Managerial Effort in Consumer-Owned Enterprises

Governance Inequality Co-ops Public Policy

What is different about the relationship between boards in CEOs in co-operatives than in investor-owned firms, and how should we think differently about governance in consumer-owned enterprises?

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Governance and Managerial Effort in Consumer-Owned Enterprises

Fulton, M., & Pohler, D. (2015) Governance and Managerial Effort in Consumer-Owned Enterprises. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 42(5): 713-737.

This article develops a political economy model of the board–manager relationship in consumer-owned enterprises (COEs), illustrating how the governance structure plays a key role in determining managerial power. The key conclusion of the article is that managerial remuneration and the resources devoted to governance are strategic choices for the COE and that their determination involves a trade-off. This trade-off depends on factors external to the COE, such as the COE's time horizon (as captured in the discount rate) and the manager's opportunity cost outside the COE (e.g. the remuneration paid in investor-owned firms). The trade-off also is influenced by the degree of complementarity between remuneration and governance resources, and by the sensitivity of managerial utility to financial remuneration and to governance.

What is different about the relationship between boards in CEOs in co-operatives than in investor-owned firms, and how should we think differently about governance in consumer-owned enterprises?

2017-01-05 22:33:19
Other Publications

Other Publications

The Role of Governance in Balancing Conflicting Institutional Logics in a Canadian Credit Union.

Governance Co-ops Public Policy

Using data collected through semi-structured interviews with top management and board members, this study provides insight into senior leaders’ perceptions of and responses to competing pressures in a credit union.

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The Role of Governance in Balancing Conflicting Institutional Logics in a Canadian Credit Union.

Credit unions are traditionally small, community-embedded and co-operatively-owned financial services organizations that developed to correct various market failures. Recent changes to regulatory policy in the financial services industry in Canada, coupled with advances in technology and urbanization of the population, have led to numerous mergers and consolidations among credit unions, particularly in Western Canada. This has the potential to undermine some of the historic benefits of CUs when compared to other financial services organizations, as it may require credit unions to begin to operate more like banks. The thesis provides a detailed examination of how senior leaders in one large Western Canadian credit union are handling these issues, and explores what the broader implications might be for policy and governance of credit unions in Canada.

Using data collected through semi-structured interviews with top management and board members, this study provides insight into senior leaders’ perceptions of and responses to competing pressures in a credit union.

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2017-10-17 02:17:14
Blogs

Blog posts (by Dionne Pohler)

The Filene Research Institute and the Canadian Credit Union Association commissioned me to write a report examining the characteristics of the well-governed credit union and exploring the values and risks associated with co-operative governance models. I summarize some of the key insights in a blog posted at Contemplating Co-ops.

Canada’s credit unions need to find a way to work together to survive, which can only happen if they are able to build the trust and legitimacy necessary to redesign how they interact with each other and make decisions at the system level. Credit unions that think they can make it on their own do so not only at their own peril, but at the peril of the system as a whole. Find this blog post at Contemplating Co-ops.

The credit union system in Canada is at a crossroads. Find this blog post at Contemplating Co-ops.

Credit unions should be able to use the words "bank" and "banking" without fear of reprisal from Canada's national financial regulator. Find this blog post at Contemplating Co-ops.

Credit unions need to design their compensation systems very carefully to avoid negative consequences for their members. Find this blog post at Contemplating Co-ops.

News Items

News Items

Dionne talks to CPAC about the role of co-operatives in economic and social development.

G7 Summit Preview on the Economy

Dionne talks to CPAC about the role of co-operatives in economic and social development.

2018-08-10
www.cpac.ca 2018-08-10 14:03:12
Inequality Governance Development Co-ops Public Policy G7 Summit Preview on the Economy 2018-08-10 14:03:12
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