International Symposium on the Contributions of Successful Cooperativism to the Overcoming of Economic Problems

The 6th and 7th of June, 2012 researchers from different universities of the world, representatives of companies, civil society organizations, and of the cooperativist and political sphere have been reflecting on types of business organizations such as the successful cooperativism that made possible to create quality employment and that offer successful economic alternatives in times of crisis and economic recession.

Ramón Flecha, Professor at the University of Barcelona and expert of the EU Scientific Research Programme for Spain, initiated the debate highlighting the importance of analyzing those cooperatives that are successful in the capitalist market without giving up the cooperative principles. In this line, he presented the successful cooperativist actions based on a research carried out on the Mondragón Group. One example has been presented during the round table on the social services cooperative that has recently been created in La Milagrosa neighbourhood in Albacete. This neighbourhood is one of the most impoverished in the Spanish State and through its participation in the European Integrated Project INCLUD-ED (Sixth Framework Programme) the transformation of the neighbourhood was initiated. The testimony of the cooperative’s secretary Carmen Moreno Romero explained how the participation in this project made it possible for her to overcome poverty and social exclusion and, thus, to provide a better future for her children. In line with Flecha, the speeches of Jens Dahlgaard (Linköping University) and Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park (Lund University) were enriching for the debate by contrasting excellent and pioneering management forms from around the world.

Other speakers, such as Joan Segarra (Catalan Federation of Cooperatives) and Saioa Arando (University of Mondragón) pointed out the strategies and measures developed by the cooperatives to face the crisis, as well as data on the cooperatives ability to resist crisis. Even though cooperatives are not isolated and many are directly affected by the crisis, they agree on the cooperatives’ ability to maintain workplaces for the great majority of their members by implementing measures based on solidarity and flexibility. Iñaki Santa Cruz, professor of Economics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, highlighted the example of the cooperative banks that constitute an alternative to the common banks as they show higher resistance to the negative effects of the economic crisis: of 4000 cooperative banks that exist in Europe none had to be intervened.

Finally, the political perspective represented by Josep Huguet (ERC), Joan Rangel (PSC) and Xavier López, director general of Social Economy and Cooperative and Self-Employment Work, puts the cooperatives in the context of the current economic crisis and they highlighted the need to include these practices in the policies to restructure the current economic production model.


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