session was delivered as part of the Accounting Ethics
module at the University of Strathclyde (fourth year
Topic: Ethical enterprise and the market
Duration: Including a Q&A session, the lecture was one hour in duration.
Relevance to module: this lecture built upon some of the discussions surrounding the morality of the market topic in weeks 7 and 8.
Content: The lecture assumed no previous knowledge of co-operatives. Firstly, it is advised that a brief thought exercise is conducted; it is designed to get students thinking about the relationship between capital and labour in business. Depending on questions, this exercise usually lasts between 15-20 minutes. See The Meaning of Ownership folder at http://s.coop/162hh.
The context is set by looking at the co-operative model of
enterprise in general before dealing with the topic at hand. This includes a discussion of core
co-operative characteristics such as values and principles, ownership,
governance, and surplus. The lecture then proceeds by communicating key
co-operative statistics, both global and the UK; this section concludes by looking at some of the benefits of co-operatives in terms of economic and
social factors (for example, productivity and wealth inequality).
The next section introduces the idea that co-operatives correct market failures in relation to Fairtrade, micro-credit, and sustainable employment. Three brief case studies on the role alternative models of enterprise play in correcting market failures are then presented:
- The Co-operative Group and its Ethical Plan, which includes a commitment to Fairtrade;
- Mondragon Corporation and its financial crisis strategy, which was developed to protect the jobs of worker-owners; and
- Financial co-operatives and their sustainable practices.
Alternative Models of Enterprise and Ethics.ppt (please note that the slides are merely representative of what was covered and lecturers are encourage to develop their own materials)
Feedback: 'In terms of what your visit offered our students
- the awareness that there are other business models out there which do not
conform to the maximising shareholder wealth (MSW) model which they have been
almost exclusively exposed to. Your talk helped students appreciate that there
are profitable and successful businesses out there (many of which the students
had heard off - but did not know were co-ops) which do not conform to a MSW
model and the assumptions that go with it, which are formed on on more democratic
principles, are more equitable, and generally have a concern for the long-term
interests of their employees andcommunity.
Thanks again for coming - both I and the
students enjoyed it. Given that the students have been asking me about co-ops
since your talk, I think you have certainly managed to raise awareness.' - Dr John Ferguson, Module Co-ordinator
McDonnell, D., Macknight, E. and Donnelly, H. (2012) Democratic Enterprise: Ethical Business for the 21st Century, Glasgow: Co-operative Education Trust Scotland (see Chapters 1 & 9).
McMurtry, J. J. (2009) "Co-operative Globalization: Corporate Globalization's Unheralded Other" Co-operatives in a Global Economy: The Challenges of Co-operation Across Borders, pp. 54-84.
Parker, M. and Pearson, G. (2005) 'Capitalism and its Regulation: A Dialogue on Business and Ethics' Journal of Business Ethics, volume 60, issue 1, pp. 91-101.