Co-ops and what is cooperative management can be studied in business schools and taught in MBA programs. These are degrees that offer classes on business theory, economics, marketing, entrepreneurship, law, etc. Co-ops, which were started in cooperative homes in the early 1900’s, were originally created to help those who were unable to own a business of their own and help each other with day-to-day activities including repairs, chores, shopping, cooking, and cleaning. The concept was put into practice in a few locations, such as German, Italy, France, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and the United States. It was the intention of the original co-ops to eliminate the need for individual ownership of business, but because of the initial success of these programs many individual entrepreneurs have since joined in and started their own coops.
In an effort to understand what is cooperative management in action at the national level many nonprofit groups have been formed to study the subject. Most recently, a group called the Cooperative Management Institute was formed at the University of California at Santa Barbara. This group continues to research cooperative management and has adopted a variety of educational activities, seminars, and workshops to further the understanding of this interesting and beneficial concept. The SCORE program is a great example of how cooperative management is taught today. SCORE stands for Society for Cooperatives Research Education.
One of the primary goals of the SCORE program is to bring together people from all kinds of backgrounds and skills, including managers, volunteers, educators, and other business owners. The objective of the meetings is to foster dialogue, leadership development, information sharing, research, and case studies. For the purposes of this class, a “Cooperative Management Case Study” was presented. This was a unique cooperative management case study that involved five family members. The case was developed around the “Shanghai Savings and Loan” model. Because this case was so unique, each of the five families had to be dealt with individually in order to gain insight and learn what is cooperative management at its core.
Once each family was seated, the moderator began by describing the case study and asked them to share their observations. Then each one went on to share what they thought were their strongest areas of strengths and weaknesses in relation to the company. The goal of the meeting was to get each group to identify what contributed to their particular downfall and to discover what they had going for them. This workshop provided insight and education on what is cooperative financial management and how to apply the lessons learned during the workshop. The intention of the entire workshop was to enhance individual and team leadership, maximize organization resources, create a better working environment, strengthen communication, provide a venue for learning, increase confidence, improve motivation, and build cooperation.
While learning what is cooperative financial management, the participants also held office hours with experienced financial managers, financial planners, insurance agents, mortgage brokers, and insurance agents. These professionals are all skilled to handle negotiations and navigating through highly sensitive and confidential financial information. The purpose of the office hours was to discuss their own unique situations, share insight with each other, and gain support for the group. Many of these individuals became leaders within the organization after the end of the workshop.
During the course of the training, each group was asked to identify one or two common issues that they have found to be very challenging, difficult, or complex in managing. The group then spent a few days brainstorming solutions to these issues. The group then developed a list of questions and issues that needed to be addressed to help improve their effectiveness in financial management. When compiling their list of suggested solutions, the group looked at each management solution and examined the cost of implementation, the effect it would have on the current situation, and the impact it would have on the future market outlook. After looking at these solutions, the group developed their final list.
One week later the groups met again in the office. The goal of this meeting was to discuss and implement the suggestions that had been brought forth during the previous meeting. Each group reviewed their notes and discussed what they felt needs to be done and improved about their cooperative financial management approach. Through the discussions, many important details were ironed out, and new ideas were exchanged. A successful cooperative financial management plan was agreed upon by the groups and a solid financial management plan was developed.
A financial management plan is usually set up by a business or an industry that is highly specialized and experienced with dealing with finances. After this financial management system has been set up, the system is run regularly with minimal supervision from upper management. Businesses and their employees are more satisfied with their own financial management approach and are able to work together more easily. What are cooperative financial management and what does it have to offer?