A new research project into New Zealand's co-operative business landscape will provide insight into their economic contribution

Putting New Zealand's co-op economy on the map

Dr Elena Garnevska

Massey University researchers are collaborating with colleagues at the University of Auckland and Cooperative Business New Zealand on a research project that aims to explore the co-operative economy and its contribution to New Zealand.

Lead researcher Dr Elena Garnevska from Massey University says co-operatives provide a significant economic and social contribution, but they are not well-recognised in New Zealand.

“This is a unique collaboration between two pre-eminent universities and the industry body – Cooperative Business New Zealand – to design and execute a study that provides an accurate picture of New Zealand’s cooperative economy landscape.

“The team from Massey University are also investigating the social capital and organisational innovation in co-operatives, which aligns with our expertise as the only university to provide a postgraduate course in co-operative leadership and management,” she says.

The project aims to comprehensively list the top 30-40 co-operatives in New Zealand, and analyse the contribution of these organisations to the New Zealand economy based on objective data. The project will also provide the basis for a longitudinal study of the industry, which will be able to map long-term trends and cycles. Key issues faced by these cooperatives will be identified too, and it is anticipated that these will help shape subsequent research on NZ's co-operative economy.

Dr Lisa Callagher from University of Auckland says her team will extend their existing research on innovation practices in entrepreneurial co-operatives.

“We are excited to be working with our Massey colleagues and partners at Cooperative Business New Zealand to understand and document the contribution of New Zealand’s co-operative economy in a way that is relevant and accessible for those working in and with organisations committed to co-operative principles,” she says.

“Leveraging the expertise across our research groups through this project gives us an opportunity to undertake the type of study that gives us a comprehensive picture that can guide further industry and policy development, as well as a platform for industry-informed research.”

Cooperative Business New Zealand chief executive Ian Macintosh says the project provides New Zealand with a platform to lead the world in research into co-operatives.

“The project will also highlight the innovation and successes of New Zealand co-operatives and create research data that will be of assistance to governments and other research centres. It is indeed a unique collaboration between two of New Zealand’s finest institutions,” he says.

The project launch will be announced at the Cooperative Business NZ gala dinner for the visiting International Cooperative Association's visiting delegation to be held in Auckland on the evening of March 4, 2016.


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