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Review of International Cooperation – Special issues on the Cooperative Identity

The cooperative model stands out among the various enterprise and organization models due to its unique characteristics. In addition to being a people-centered and value-based organization, one of its notable aspects is that its identity has been defined by cooperatives themselves through their international network, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). The most recent edition of this definition is the ICA Statement on the Cooperative Identity, which was adopted in Manchester in 1995 at the 31st World Cooperative Congress. This Statement holds great significance as it outlined the cooperative and ethical values that underpin the principles elaborated by the founders of the cooperative movement. It also provided a clear definition of the cooperative business model and updated the Cooperative Principles to reflect the contemporary features of the movement. Notably, the 7th Principle of Concern for Community was included for the first time, acknowledging the changing world and the role of cooperatives within it.

To examine the implementation and challenges of the Cooperative Identity in today’s world, the ICA held the 33rd World Cooperative Congress on the theme of “Deepening our Cooperative Identity” in Seoul, Korea and online on 1-3 December 2021. In preparation for the Congress, the ICA Cooperative Research Conference took place in Seoul and online from November 28-30, 2021. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference adopted a hybrid format and organized sessions in two different time zones. In conjunction with the 3rd International Forum on Cooperative Law held within the same framework, these research events consisted of 62 sessions with a total of 233 presentations delivered by 335 authors and panelists from 47 countries.

To recognize the value of these contributions and contribute to the ongoing discussion on the Cooperative Identity, which is led by the Cooperative Identity Advisory Group, the ICA Committee on Cooperative Research (CCR) decided to publish selected papers as two special issues of the Review of International Co-operation. The editorial team for these special issues on the Cooperative Identity comprises six CCR executive members (Akira Kurimoto as chair, Cynthia Giagnocavo representing Europe, Sidsel Grimstad representing Asia-Pacific, Sonja Novkovic representing North America, Claudia Sanchez Bajo representing South America, Isaac K. Nyamongo representing Africa) and an invited editor (Seungkwon Jang from Sungkonghoe University, Korea). The editorial team received technical assistance from Hyungsik Eum, Director of research at the ICA.

After a thorough analysis of papers presented at the conference, 24 papers were selected for inclusion in the volumes. These selected papers cover various cooperative sectors, including housing, agricultural, consumer, social, banking, worker and insurance. They also represent a diverse range of countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Korea, Sri Lanka, Japan, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Cuba.

The first volume (107/2023) provides a comprehensive exploration of Cooperative Identity, examining its implementation, diversity, and challenges across different contexts and historical traditions. By exploring these topics, they contribute to a deeper understanding of the Cooperative Identity and its resilience in the face of evolving circumstances.

In the second volume (108/2023), the implementation of the Cooperative Identity in cooperative businesses and its institutionalization through various fields are examined. The volume consists of eleven articles grouped into three themes: entrepreneurial innovation, institutionalization and development of implementing tools.

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CIRIEC-International CIRIEC-España Social Economy Europe Ministerio de Trabajo y Economía Social Unión Europea