A Co-operative approach to business

10 March 2011

Dr Tony Webster, LJMU Head of History, is working with a team of historians from the University of Liverpool on two major books looking at co-operative values and the history of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, one of which will showcase the Co-operative Group as a business model. This will be the first major business history of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS)/Co-operative Group in time for the society’s 150th anniversary in 2013.

“It’s time to make sure the recent co-operative renaissance is more widely recognised — publicly, politically and in the academic world as well,” said Dr Webster.

He added: “Clearly, many commentators now see the co-operative business model playing a very important role in the political economy of Britain following the great crisis of 2008, and what needs to be done to underpin that is to take a fresh look at the Co-op business model.

“Certainly, the co-operative business model has somewhat fallen off the map in the academic world and in the areas of history, business studies and economics and references to co-operation have become fewer and fewer in the past 20 years, so one of our main objectives is to put co-operation right back into the mainstream academic agenda.”

He added: “There is a political will to do this; we want to reach out to a bigger national and international audience.”

The other book will be a volume of essays to be published in both hardback and paperback by Manchester University Press titled  ‘The Hidden Alternative: Co-operative Values, Past, Present and Future.'

“Our aim is to have it published in early 2012 to coincide with the UN International Year of Co-operatives. It will be aimed at an international audience of academics, Co-op members and all those interested in the co-operative model.”

Dr Webster said the proposed book will include essays on education and co-operation; Fairtrade; politics and governance; planning and stability and crisis management.

The Co-operative News story is available to view at:



Page last modified by Corporate Communications on 10 March 2011.
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