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 peak body Cooperative Business New Zealand has commissioned Massey University and University of Auckland researchers to undertake an independent study into the sector.

Cooperative Business 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.

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.

“Our team will help measure the contribution of New Zealand’s top 30 co-operatives to New Zealand’s economy and identify the key strengths and issues. The resulting report will be valuable for the sector and in guiding future business,” he says.

“We are excited to work with our colleagues from University of Auckland and Cooperative Business NZ. It is inspiring to see that so many leading NZ co-operatives are supporting this project,” says Dr Elena Garnevska, the Massey University project leader.

Several benefits for NZ co-operatives are expected from the research, including accurate facts and figures about the current contribution of NZ’s cooperative economy that can be used to educate key stakeholders about the nature, extent and importance of cooperatives in NZ. In addition to education, an accurate picture can help advocate for the profile and needs of organisations in NZ’s co-operative economy.

The final report is due in early December, 2016.

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