Asia Pacific Co-operative Research Partnership

Mainstreaming co-operatives: A research agenda for Asia

The Asia Pacific Co-operative Research Partnership was formed at the International Co-operative Alliance Regional Conference in Bali in 2014 by a number of academics who saw the need to position co-operatives in the mainstream economic debate across Asia in the quest to strengthen democracy in civil society, reduce growing inequality and provide a way to alleviate poverty. Chaired by Dr. Anthony Jensen of the University of Newcastle the founding members were Mr. Bien Nito of the University of Asia and the Pacific; Professor Y. Dongre of Mysore University, India; Professor Akira Kurimoto of Honsai University, Japan; and Professor Morris Altman of the University of Newcastle.

The research is a five year year comparative study of co-operative sectors and case studies and their emergence and success across different countries and sectors to identify how successful co-operatives might be replicated and as a result learning what makes co-operatives successful. The aim is to produce articles, books, electronic material and reports that will build capacity and impact on policy development and increase the rate of co-operative formation.  The goal is to establish a uniquely Asian Co-operative Scholarship, establish a network of academics researching co-operatives and to develop university certificate, graduate and post graduate courses.

The project is inclusive and aims initially to partner with fourteen countries: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia. Nine countries are involved in the project to date.

APCRP Conference Bangkok Thailand 5-7 February 2015

The first conference in Bangkok in February 2015 was a two day meeting with twenty three delegates from eight countries and was a very engaging and pleasant experience for all. The purpose was to develop the research team, gain an understanding of the co-operative sector in each country, its strengths and weaknesses, major influences and its history in order to group countries together for comparative purposes. The conference was sponsored by the Co-operative League of Thailand and the Credit Union Federation of Australia.

Twenty three presentations were received and all the proceedings and discussions were recorded. The objective was to provide a solid foundation of quantitative and qualitative data from which to proceed. The country comparisons decided on for the collaborative research were: Agriculture (India, Vietnam, China, Korea and Australia), Consumer (Japan, Singapore, Korea and India), Credit/Finance (Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines) and Worker (Philippines, Japan, India and Australia).

It was decided to meet next in Pune India in November 2015 before the ICA Regional Conference to present initial scoping on the next phase – the case study research and meta data collection.