Co-operatives for Sustainable Communities: Tools to Measure Co-operative Impact and Performance

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Brown, Leslie
Carini, Chiara
Gordon Nembhard, Jessica
Hammond Ketilson, Lou
Hicks, Elizabeth
McNamara, John
Novkovic, Sonja
Rixon, Daphne
Simmons, Richard
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Centre for the Sudy of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan
The Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network and the Centre of Excellence in Accounting and Reporting for Co-operatives joined forces to organize an international conference, focused on how and why co-operatives assess their performance and their impacts on society. Academics and practitioners gathered to share their research and experiences with a variety of accounting and reporting tools and practices. The event offered an unprecedented opportunity to recognize and debate various reporting needs and practices, to hear from practitioners regarding the purpose and methods of reporting in their co-operatives, and to identify the building blocks for the establishment of key supports for co-operatives engaged in performance measuring and reporting. Over a period of 3 days co-operative practitioners and researchers from Europe, North America and Latin America discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the various tools used by co-operatives, and considered how best to obtain and share reliable and accurate information on co-operative performance and impact. Participants agreed that in addition to being useful for co-operatives as part of their self-evaluation and strategic planning processes, the sharing of information resulting from use of various tools and reporting practices can help co-operatives in the implementation of the strategy for sustainable growth of the co-operative movement, outlined in the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. The key questions posed by the conference organizers were: What do co-operatives report and why? What tools exist and what is missing? Which tools set co-operatives apart from other business forms (and do they measure the co-operative identity)? Which tools are standard in respective industries and are co-operatives leaders or followers in those efforts? The conference explored five interconnected themes: - Statistics and data collection; - Putting co-operative principles into practice; - Community impact; - Member and stakeholder engagement; - Reporting practices (co-operative identity and sustainability); The chapters in this book are organized according to these five themes. They offer an international snapshot of the work being undertaken in these areas, with the intention of sharing the knowledge and experience obtained thus far. The authors advocate a critical analysis of these materials, and suggest ways forward as practitioners and researchers address the reporting and dissemination challenges identified during the conference.