Busi­ness school cor­ners mar­ket in co­op­er­a­tives

Aus­tralian grad­u­ate pro­gramme tipped to lure dis­il­lu­sioned mil­len­ni­als. John Ross re­ports

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - [email protected]­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

An Aus­tralian uni­ver­sity is tap­ping into mil­len­nial ide­al­ism and tack­ling a global blind spot with a spe­cial­ist man­age­ment pro­gramme fo­cused on mem­ber-owned or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The Uni­ver­sity of New­cas­tle’s grad­u­ate cer­tifi­cate in co­op­er­a­tive man­age­ment and or­gan­i­sa­tion claims to be the only course of its kind in Aus­tralia, and one of just a hand­ful in the English-speak­ing world. Mor­ris Alt­man, the dean of the New­cas­tle Busi­ness School, said that although co­op­er­a­tives and mu­tu­als pro­duced about 4 per cent of global gross do­mes­tic prod­uct – and about dou­ble that pro­por­tion in some an­glo­phone coun­tries – they were over­looked by busi­ness fac­ul­ties and de­rided as the pre­serve of “peo­ple who have pony­tails and smoke mar­i­juana”.

“They’re [per­ceived as] or­gan­i­sa­tions on the mar­gins, not driv­ers of eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment,” Pro­fes­sor Alt­man said. “That’s a mis­per­cep­tion by peo­ple who run busi­ness schools and teach man­age­ment, eco­nom­ics and law.

“When peo­ple are hired as CEOs of co­op­er­a­tives, the first thing they think is, ‘Let’s de­mu­tu­alise be­cause co­op­er­a­tives are losers.’ Why would you think de­mu­tu­al­i­sa­tion is a way for­ward if you ap­pre­ci­ate the prof­itabil­ity, the ef­fi­ciency, the ef­fec­tive­ness of co­op­er­a­tives and mu­tu­als?”

Pro­fes­sor Alt­man said that co­op­er­a­tives were prom­i­nent in the UK, Canada, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the Nether­lands, Italy and Spain’s Basque re­gion, play­ing an im­por­tant role in agri­cul­ture, su­per­an­nu­a­tion, bank­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­tail.

They are highly re­silient busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions, he said, which of­fer small en­ter­prises the pro­duc­tiv­ity ben­e­fits of scale. “You can mimic a big com­pany by cre­at­ing a co­op­er­a­tive,” he said.

Many co- ops of­fer in- house train­ing schemes, but they are limited in scope. New­cas­tle’s pro­gramme – which can be com­pleted part-time in six months, or rolled into a spe­cial­ist MBA on co­op­er­a­tives – cov­ers the in­ter­na­tional con- text, the le­gal en­vi­ron­ment and man­age­ment ap­proaches.

“If you run a co-op like you would run an in­vestor-owned firm, you won’t get the pro­duc­tiv­ity and qual­ity ad­van­tage of op­er­at­ing like a co­op­er­a­tive,” he said. “Our pro­gramme is pro­vid­ing peo­ple with tools to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate how to run a dif­fer­ent type of suc­cess­ful busi­ness model.”

St Mary’s Uni­ver­sity in Hal­i­fax, Canada, also pro­vides grad­u­ate diploma and mas­ter’s pro­grammes in co­op­er­a­tives. In the UK, the Co­op­er­a­tive Col­lege, a Manch­ester­based ed­u­ca­tional char­ity, of­fers a post­grad­u­ate cer­tifi­cate ac­cred­ited by Sh­effield Hal­lam Uni­ver­sity and St Mary’s, and is in­tro­duc­ing an MA next year in part­ner­ship with Manch­ester Metropoli­tan Uni­ver­sity.

Pro­fes­sor Alt­man said that New- cas­tle hoped to ex­plore joint of­fer­ings with other Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties. “But right now, we’re the only game in town. In spite of the fact that this sec­tor pro­duces bil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars and ser­vices, and em­ploys mil­lions and mil­lions of peo­ple, we’re unique,” he said.

Pro­fes­sor Alt­man said that he ex­pected stu­dents to be at­tracted to the sec­tor as they sought more eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment – par­tic­u­larly in the wake of Aus­tralia’s royal com­mis­sion into bank­ing, which has un­cov­ered abuses such as rou­tine charg­ing of fees from dead peo­ple’s es­tates.

“Co-ops aren’t there to lose money, but they’re not go­ing to make money in the way that some of the pri­vate in­vestor-owned banks work. Co­op­er­a­tives are grow­ing be­cause peo­ple don’t trust the big banks.”

On board stu­dents learn about ‘a dif­fer­ent type of suc­cess­ful busi­ness model’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.