An Introduction to Cooperation and Mutualism
Michael Boland, University of Minnesota
Copyright Year: 2017
ISBN 13: 9781946135384
Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing
Conditions of Use
This text is not a comprehensive overview of Cooperatives or Mutual Businesses. It is focused on certain managerial and economic issues that both forms of business structure have in common. It is not indexed, and has a glossary of only a couple... read more
This text is not a comprehensive overview of Cooperatives or Mutual Businesses. It is focused on certain managerial and economic issues that both forms of business structure have in common. It is not indexed, and has a glossary of only a couple of dozen terms. These terms are those most likely to be misunderstood or confusing to the reader, but are hardly a comprehensive list of terms common to cooperatives and mutuals, nor are they a complete list of terminology discussed in the text.
This text is highly accurate. I could find only one error in the text, and it was more typographical than inaccurate or ungrammatical. The areas it does cover are analyzed with considerable understanding and awareness of their context.
This is a very up to date text. Not only was it recently published, but the examples and discussion reflect the most current thinking on the topics covered. In other texts, including proprietary textbooks by major publishers, these topics are often covered in a woefully out of date fashion, including using examples of firms no longer in existence at the date of publication. Further, this text was carefully written so as not to go out of date quickly. The examples are drawn from a wide variety of historical and current sources, and developed using very generally accepted terminology. It would probably be easier to implement future updates if even more of the examples in the text were set off by boxes or similar stylistic devices.
This book is clearly written, so long as the intended audience is already well informed as to some basic facts about business and industry structure. The discussion of some basic business concepts assumes the reader, while not necessarily a business major, is either a practicing business professional or has a strong undergraduate background in business concepts. The glossary in the back is short, no doubt, because it is intended to address those terms in the text that might be considered jargon or technical terms by the well-educated reader.
The text is consistent both as to level, conceptual development, and analysis. Some of the chapters are more readable, while others, especially Chapter 3, assume more in the way of a business or accounting background.
Each of the five chapters could be discussed, assigned, or read on its own. Self-references are mostly confined to introductory and concluding remarks in each chapter. It would be nice if the sub-chapter sections were marked numerically, e.g. 2.1, as are the figures in the text.
The organization and structure of the text flow naturally from the thesis developed at the beginning of the text, and the logic is reinforced throughout. The text is a bit more of a monograph on the topic of cooperative and mutual businesses, than it is an overview of either of these business forms - which is what the reader might expect from the title.
The layout and interface of the text is nicely done. The charts and graphs, boxed examples, and stylistic features are quite attractive. I would have been a little more clear in sub-chapter designations, but for such a short text this is not much of a problem.
I only spotted one - really just typographical - error. (and I got a 790 on my English GRE back when; one of my boys just nailed a perfect 36 on his Verbal ACT).
Excellent, in using both US and international examples from a variety of cultural perspectives, especially in such a short text.
There is not enough material here for a semester long undergraduate class. Anyone planning to develop an undergraduate course on that topic would be well advised to look at "Cooperatives: Principles and Practices for the 21st Century" by Kimberly A. Zeuli and Robert Cropp, 2004. It is a University of Wisconsin publication, and widely available for download or print for a small charge. Between the two short publications, it should be possible to develop a class with low cost or open source materials as the core.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Cooperatives and Mutuals are Firms
- The success of a firm lies in its ability to have clear property rights.
- Who owns a firm?
- Corporate governance
- Cooperatives are an example of a closely-held firm
Chapter Two: Cooperatives and mutuals are participatory organizations
- Cooperative principles and policies
- Participation in benefits
- Participation in ownership
- Participation in control.
- Principles of cooperation
- Formation of cooperatives
About the Book
This textbook introduces readers to the idea of cooperation and mutualism. Cooperatives and mutuals are participatory organizations in which members participate in control and governance, receive economic benefits through patronage refunds or net income, and become owners through equity. These mutual-benefit organizations exist alongside non-profit organizations and investor-benefit organizations through the global economy.
About the Contributors
Michael Boland (Mike) holds the Koller endowed Professorship in agribusiness management and information technology at the University of Minnesota. In addition, he is director of the University of Minnesota Food Industry Center which is funded by General Mills, Kellogg’s, Land O’Lakes, Old Dutch, and other food companies. He teaches classes in cooperatives (in law school and agricultural school) and farm management. Mike was elected to the board of directors for the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and sits on the board of the Council on Food, Agriculture, and Resource Economics (C-FARE) in Washington DC. In addition, he has worked with agribusinesses and cooperatives in Latin America, China, South Africa, Australia, and Europe. Mike lectures at Zamorano University in Honduras and is a Speaker for the U.S. Department of State on global trade, food security, and free trade agreement issues. He is a member of Harvard’s Private and Public, Scientific, Academic, and Consumer Food Policy Group. Mike’s Ph.D. in agricultural economics is from Purdue University where he worked on programs in the Center for Food and Agricultural Business. He is the oldest of 12 children and was reared in Minnesota.