The following details a lecture that CETS delivered as part of its knowledge exchange project (supported by Co-operative Development Scotland).

Module delivery: This session was delivered as part of the three-year undergraduate Business Studies degree at the University of the West of Scotland.

Topic: Co-operative Enterprise – The Invisible Giant

Duration: Including a Q&A session, the lecture was 50 minutes in duration.

Relevance to module: This lecture built on previous sessions looking at micro-finance and co-operatives.

Content: The lecture assumed a basic level of knowledge of co-operatives. Firstly, a brief thought exercise was conducted; it is designed to get students thinking about the relationship between capital and labour in a business. Depending on questions, this exercise usually lasts between 10-15 minutes. See The Meaning of Ownership folder at

The context is set by looking at the co-operative model of enterprise in comparison with the investor-owned and social enterprise models. This includes a discussion of core co-operative characteristics such as values and principles, ownership, governance, and surplus. The lecture then proceeds by communicating the types of co-operative businesses as well as the sectors they operate in. The next section examines some advantages and disadvantages of co-operatives before concluding with a look at key national and international co-operative statistics. The lecture slides are provided below:

Co-operative Enterprise_The Invisible Giant

Additional resources:

Democratic Enterprise – an ebook and VLE aimed at students/graduates containing information about democratic forms of enterprise

The UK Co-operative Economy 2012 – facts and infographics from today’s lecture

Join the Co-op Future – a 4 minute film that offers a snapshot of the co-operative sector in Scotland