Universities to study NZ’s co-operative sector

Universities to study NZ’s co-operative sector

New Zealand’s co-operative business sector is better known overseas than in this country but that is set to change with two leading universities joining forces to conduct the first research study into the economic contribution of Kiwi co-ops.

On the back of United Nations (UN) and International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) reports indicating New Zealand to be one of the most co-operative economies in the world, this country’s industry body Cooperative Business New Zealand has commissioned Massey University and University of Auckland researchers to undertake an independent study into the sector.

Cooperative Business NZ Chief Executive Craig Presland says the research will measure the current economic contribution of this country’s top 30 co-operatives and report on the key achievements and challenges facing the co-operative business model in New Zealand.

“Based on co-operatives’ combined annual revenue (FY 14/15) of more than NZ$43 billion, we know that’s almost 15 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP and more than one-third of all exports. While these statistics are significant, we need the academic rigour and independent perspective that the universities’ researchers will bring in determining the true value of co-operatives to New Zealand.”

Co-operatively funded by Fonterra (lead sponsor), Ballance Agri-Nutrients, CDC Pharmaceuticals, Co-op Money NZ, Farmlands, Farmers Mutual Group, Foodstuffs South Island, Market Gardeners, Mitre 10, Ravensdown and Silver Fern Farms, the Co-operative Economy of New Zealand study will use data from recent surveys and case studies that have been completed by researchers at the two universities.

As the first New Zealand university to offer a postgraduate course in co-operative leadership and management, Massey understands the important role that co-operatives play in our economy, says the university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Sciences Professor, Ray Geor.

“Led by Dr Elena Garnevska, our team will help measure the contribution of the top 30 co-ops to New Zealand’s economy and identify the business model’s strengths and issues. The resulting report will be valuable for the sector and in guiding future business,” he says.

Dr Lisa Callagher from the University of Auckland Business School says the results will help to educate policy-makers and key stakeholders, including the government, about the nature, extent and importance of co-operatives in NZ.

“In addition to education, an accurate picture can help advocate for the profile and needs of organisations in NZ’s cooperative economy,” she says.

The Co-operative Economy of New Zealand research programme will begin in August with results expected in December this year.