The British retail co-operative movement

Weekes, Richard John (2004) The British retail co-operative movement. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The research concluded that whilst the Co-operative Movement has identifiable qualities and characteristics which are (or could be made to be) different from its competitors, it has as yet not shown a determination or consistency of purpose in making the most of these elements to further its aims and ambitions. It was found that for greater consistency to occur, a more unified approach or framework was required which might be achieved through the further judicious use of strategic alliances, mergers and the like. From those surveyed, social, democratic and cultural dimensions were still felt to be important to the future success of the Cooperative Movement and yet there was found to be a clearly identifiable gap between perception and reality both in terms of what people believed was necessary and what was actually being done and between ideals and commercial reality. Ethics too were deemed important and in this research interviewees put forward the views that co-operative management particularly within an alliance, could help smaller independent co-operatives communicate the ethical position of the wider co-operative community in a mutually agreed format thereby promoting and benefiting from a wider recognition and representation of such matters. It was found that the Co-operative Movement had a strong culture based on a strong
heritage. There was a widespread belief that there was an importance to having a strong culture and heritage in that it helped people to be confident in their choice of who they wanted to do business with. It was stated in the research that only a cooperative can differentiate itself via the co-operative difference therefore it would appear that if only co-operatives could approach their points of difference in a more cohesive manner then they may have a real strategic opportunity. In conclusion the research pointed out that for this to happen much depended still upon
a wider recognition and communication of same throughout the Co-operative Movement since the evidence pointed to a significant gap still between what managers, employees and customers all thought and believed about many of the issues discussed herein.

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