CIRIEC Nº 72 October 2011
Competitiveness, innovation and internationalization of agri-cooperatives
Labour-managed companies face the challenges of the future in a context of economic crisis: proposals for action
Authors: Sonia Martín López y Gustavo Lejarriaga Pérez de las Vacas
Keywords: Employee-owned companies, worker cooperatives, labour-managed firms, economic crisis, challenges, opportunities.
Econlit Keywords: G010, L260, J540, M130.
The current adverse economic situation has had devastating effects on Spain’s production in general and, in particular, on labour-managed firms. Owing to the closure of a large number of these businesses and the lower rate of new business start-ups, there has been a significant reduction in the number of active organizations (registered with the social security system). The employment they generate has also been seriously affected and a large number of jobs have been destroyed.In this situation, however, labour-managed firms have to be able to respond positively to the new challenges of the future and take advantage of new opportunities and challenges to promote the creation of new companies and the growth and strengthening of existing ones. Among these opportunities and challenges, particular attention should be paid to those related to demographic change (aging population and higher levels of dependency, a greater immigrant population, women increasingly joining the workforce), the introduction of new technologies, legislative changes or the potential of corporate social responsibility.
Why are cooperatives not predominant in traditional fruit and vegetable sector systems? A comparison between Spain and France
Authors: Juan Ramón Gallego Bono y Annie Lamanthe
Keywords: Agri-food systems, fruit and vegetable systems, agricultural cooperatives, marketing, institutions, conventions, trust, power, France, Spain.
Econlit Keywords: O130, O180, Q130, Q170, Q180.
This article tries to explain why agricultural cooperatives and other forms of collective organization do not achieve greater weight in some traditional agri-food systems. For the authors, the key factor is the importance of a “speculative convention” which shapes the relationships between the members of such systems. This analysis is based on an institutionalist conceptual framework and is illustrated by two case studies: citrus fruit production in the Valencia region of Spain and fruit and vegetable production in the south-east of France (Provence). Although the two systems have followed different paths in recent years, due to their institutional context, in both cases the inertia of the speculative convention limits and distorts the development of collective forms. Nevertheless, it also stimulates institutional creation (diversity of actors and marketing mechanisms, etc.) through interactions between the speculative and cooperative conventions.
Export success in Spanish agri-food cooperatives. Proposal of a model from an international marketing perspective
Authors: Teresa Fayos, Haydeé Calderón y Juan Mir
Keywords: Agri-food cooperatives, internationalisation, export success, strategic marketing.
Econlit Keywords: Q130, Q170, F230, M160, M390.
Cooperatives are a suitable association formula for tackling internationalisation in the agri-food sector. In this paper, after analyzing the international situation for agri-food cooperatives and reviewing the literature on export success, a model is developed as a basis for determining which factors contribute to the international success of these companies. The model has been tested in cooperatives that are successful in international markets and evidence has emerged that size and qualified human resources are essential factors for cooperatives to deploy international marketing mix elements successfully in foreign markets.
Analysis of cooperative activities in agribusiness
Authors: Carmen De Nieves Nieto, Eva Martínez Caro y Antonio Juan Briones Peñalver
Keywords: Cooperation, agribusiness, direct agents, indirect agents, reasons, advantages, threats.
Econlit Keywords: P130, Q130, O180.
Many companies are able to implement strategies that are critical for competitiveness through cooperation agreements and alliances with other agents. This study attempts to analyze cooperative relationships through an empirical study of agribusinesses in Murcia (Spain). The results suggest that approximately half of the agribusinesses engage in cooperative activities and that the most cooperative subsectors are those that pack and market the produce (exclusively or in addition to growing the crops). The growers subsector undertakes the fewest cooperative activities, whether with internal agents (suppliers, competitors and customers) or with external ones (research centres and associations). The main reasons for cooperation are access to new markets and overcoming commercial barriers. The most important results of cooperation are greater capacity and savings on resources. The best results are obtained by cooperating with suppliers and competitors, and to a lesser extent with associations. Cooperation with clients and research centres is not reflected in the results. Finally, since some companies do not cooperate with others, the reasons need to be analyzed, so this study determines the main threats to cooperation and proposes solutions.
Agri-food cooperatives and the challenge of globalization: “adapt or die”
Authors: Ángela Triguero-Cano y Mª Carmen Cuerva Narro
Keywords: Cooperatives, agri-food industry, R&D spending, innovation, business strategies, market structure.
Econlit Keywords: L100, L250, L660, Q130.
In recent years, cooperatives have undertaken major investments in technology. Nevertheless, this has not led to higher value added among agri-food cooperatives, due to the power of the retailers and poor sales results. Consequently, the aim of this study is to ascertain whether technological innovation has been a decisive factor for competitiveness in this sector. To this end, it analyses the relation between the cooperatives’ degree of innovation and their results, taking into account the individual characteristics of each cooperative (size, age, export orientation, profitability, etc.), the market structure and the demand situation in each subsector. The information used in this study is drawn from the SABI database (Sistema de Análisis y Balances Ibéricos) and refers to 223 agri-food cooperatives in the Spanish region of Castile-La Mancha.
Fruit and vegetable cooperatives and the economic crisis. The need for commitment to competitiveness. Economic and financial aspects
Authors: Beatriz Encinas Duval, Enedina Calatayud Piñero y Gabriel García Martínez
Keywords: Agricultural cooperatives, fruit and vegetable cooperatives, financial analysis, cooperative management.
Econlit Keywords: M400, P130, Q130, Q140.
The fierce competition on the market, the strong concentration of demand and the low prices of products from other countries are forcing horticultural cooperatives to face up to major problems that demand the adoption of solutions, often urgently, as they threaten the very survival of the cooperative and its associated activity. Such solutions should integrate the internal management of the cooperative as a company and its professionalization with the behaviour of the markets, without losing sight of its social and economic interest nationwide. It is necessary to undertake coordinated action so that government initiatives stimulate and assist the efforts of the cooperative company.
How do successful cooperatives apply the co-operative principles? The Hojiblanca Group
Authors: Cristina Pedrosa Ortega y Mª Jesús Hernández Ortiz
Keywords: Co-operative, co-operative principles, success, participative management, case study.
Econlit Keywords: Q130, M100 G300, G390.
The main distinguishing feature between conventional capitalist enterprises and cooperatives is that the purpose of the latter is based on specific values and principles that can be the key factor in business success. However, are they still the cornerstones in the management of large-scale cooperatives like those of second or third degree, or are they being distorted? This paper focuses on a case study, analyzing the application of the co-operative principles by a successful cooperative, Hojiblanca Sociedad Cooperativa Andaluza, to illustrate and clarify the key elements of participatory management in larger cooperatives.
The attitude of cooperatives towards human resources management in their foreign subsidiaries. The case of Basque cooperatives
Authors: Aitziber Lertxundi
Keywords: Cooperatives, human resources practices, internationalization, “best practices”, Basque Country.
Econlit Keywords: M500, M540, M160, P130.
In recent years, research on what are known as “best practices” in the field of human resources has advanced considerably. In this exploratory study, the aim was, firstly, to ascertain to what extent human resource management in Basque cooperatives with production subsidiaries abroad is in line with “best practices” and whether they differ significantly from non-cooperative firms in this respect. The second aim, based on the main features of their human resource management, was to discover their general behaviour when designing these practices in their foreign subsidiaries, in the new national contexts of the host countries, and compare it with that of other companies. The results seem to suggest, on the one hand, that human resource management in these Basque cooperatives matches the features prescribed by the “best practices” to a greater extent, noting their specificity. On the other hand, the national context seems to play an important role in these cooperatives’ attitude towards the design of human resource practices in their subsidiaries, particularly the cultural context, and no significant differences in attitude compared to the rest of the multinational enterprises were observed. They would appear to pursue a strategy of simultaneously combining the transfer of domestic practices with the adaptation of certain aspects of these.
Economic globalization and the cooperative movement. An empirical study of the Argentinian Cooperative Sector
Authors: Paula Arzadun
Keywords: Cooperative sector, Argentina, globalization, exports, imports, foreign subsidiaries.
Econlit Keywords: F190, J540, L190.
The Argentinian cooperative sector has a long history of economic activity in a variety of market sectors. According to the Census of Cooperatives and Mutuals of Argentina (INAES, 2008), in 2008 it was composed of 12,760 organizations which generated 265,054 direct jobs and had a total membership of 9,392,713. Market trends, complexity and globalization are not foreign to these organization, many of which are seeking to adapt and respond to a new phase of expansion that might possibly lead to their economic globalization. One question that naturally arises is: To what extent are these economic globalization strategies actually present in Argentinian cooperatives? This paper addresses this issue and presents an analysis and conclusions based on survey results from a sample of 100 Argentinian cooperatives.
Credit unions and ethical banking. A path worth exploring?
Authors: Manuel Castro Cotón y Noelia Romero Castro
Keywords: Credit unions, social responsibility, ethical banking.
Econlit Keywords: G210, G230, G290, 0570, P130, Q500.
In the current context of economic crisis and financial sector restructuring, credit unions must increase their efficiency, reinforce their solvency and compete in the banking business without losing their own identity. Due to the cooperative principles they are based on, shifting towards an ethical banking model could be almost natural for them, unveiling new opportunities for growth and strengthening their contribution to the sustainable development of the communities in which they operate. The aim of this paper is to identify the possible opportunities for credit unions that a shift towards Ethical Banking could bring.