The Spirit of Co-operation – Livingston Lecture

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Hugh will be speaking at an interesting (and free) event this Thursday 01 May 2014:


The Spirit of Co-operation

West Lothian College
Thursday 1 May 2014
Registration: 6.00pm
Starts: 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Hear from industry experts the case for employee ownership of enterprise. Scotland has a rich tradition in this field, both in terms of practice and research, and this event will allow local businesses and individuals to explore the potential of employee ownership in West Lothian and further afield.


The Emerging Scholar Awards in Employee Participation and Ownership

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The Foundation for Enterprise Development and collaborators are pleased to announce the launch of a new, annual award ($1,500 per award, up to 3 awards) for promising research by an emerging scholar in the domain of broad-based employee participation and ownership.

The purpose of the award program is to identify innovative research in management or management-related disciplines that considers high-impact ideas in the context of business and society’s needs for employee empowerment, participative workforces, and wealth creation through broad-based equity and profit-sharing mechanisms, work practices, organizational structures, and innovation and entrepreneurial models. Research that has broad implications for practice and/or policy, and that addresses pressing economic and/or social problems are especially appropriate for this award.

The award is open to students (PhD) and post-docs worldwide; see the website below for full details of the award and its criteria.

Co-operatives and public health: some recent evidence

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Interesting talk from Teaching Scotland’s annual conference a few weeks ago. Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, spoke of the role autonomy plays in the health of Scottish citizens. He presented evidence linking stress levels with the level of autonomy people have in their working lives. Seems like a timely reminder of the role member-owned businesses can play in the Scottish economy in relation to improving the well-being of citizens. Similar research is being carried out in the Basque Country where academics are investigating the link between worker ownership and reduced risk of cardiac arrest.

Woollard & Henry manufacturers marks ten year anniversary of employee ownership with special roadshow event

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— Event will showcase success of employee ownership and celebrate the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives —

Co-operative Development Scotland and Woollard & Henry are hosting a special event at Stoneywood Park, Dyce, on Friday 7 September to mark the company’s tenth anniversary of employee ownership.

Woollard & Henry was founded in 1878 and has over 130 years experience as a provider of papermarking products such as the dandy roll* and associated watermarking systems.

At the event Fred Bowden from Woollard & Henry will explain how employee ownership has helped shape a decade of success for his company in the face of declining market conditions.

Sarah Deas, chief executive, Co-operative Development Scotland, will also provide an overview of employee ownershipand how it sustains businesses in their local communities.

The event will also be attended by prominent politicians including Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, Richard Baker MSP, Mark McDonald MSP and Brian Adam MSP.

The free event will take place at Stoneywood Park, Dyce, from 11.00am. The event will include a presentation, tour of Woollard & Henry’s factory, discussion and a lunch. For further details go to:

This is the fifth in a series of Co-operative Development Scotland-organised visits to successful employee owned businesses taking place across Scotland in 2012.

Two more will follow later this year: 5 November at John Lewis in Edinburgh and 16 November at Tullis Russell in Glenrothes.

There are over 550 co-operative businesses in Scotland with a combined turnover of more than £4bn and employing 28,600 people.

An employee owned business is one in which the employees hold the majority of the shares either directly or through an employee benefit trust. It gives employees a meaningful stake in their organisation together with a genuine say in how it is run.


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Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) is offering £30,000 worth of cash and support to develop new consortium co-operatives in Scotland and will be hosting a series of free workshops with Business Gateway across the country in June and July for local businesses to find out more.

Launched earlier this year by First Minister Alex Salmond, the Collaboration Prize aims to encourage businesses to consider working with others to form a new consortium co-operative. Consortiums are collaborative vehicles that play an important role in creating globally competitive businesses. They enable employees, businesses and communities to work together to fulfil shared interests.

CDS is calling for interested parties to pitch an idea for a new consortium co-operative with up to three winning concepts each receiving a cash prize of £5,000 and a further £5,000 of support to get the business off the ground.

The workshops will run from 9:30am – 12:30pm and will take place in Stirling, Paisley and Inverness. The aim is to provide a general review of the consortium co-operative model and take attendees through the stages of forming a new consortuim business. They will also help applicants consider how best to respond to all aspects of the application form.


Date: Tuesday 12 June 2012

Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm

Location: Business Gateway – Stirling, STEP, John Player Building, STIRLING FK7 7RP


Date: Tuesday 26 June 2012

Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm

Location: Business Gateway – Paisley, 9b Gilmour Street, PAISLEY PA1 1DD

Places for these events can be booked through the Business Gateway website or by calling 0845 609661.


Date: Thursday 12 July 2012

Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm

Location: Ness Horizons Centre, Kintail House, Inverness

To book a place please contact Lesley Allan on 01463 713889 or email

Applications for the Collaboration Prize can be submitted online at:

Deadline for entries is 31 July 2012 and winners will be announced in August later this year.

Businesses of any size and type (company, partnership, sole trader) can apply but you must:

  • Be based in Scotland
  • Have identified potential partners for the proposed collaborative venture

With a combined turnover of £4bn and employing around 28,000 people, Scotland’s 550 co-operative businesses currently play a key role in driving Scotland’s economic growth.

For more information about the Collaboration Prize or Co-operative Development Scotland, please visit: or call 0141 951 3055.

Employee ownership and share schemes

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The Glasgow branch of the Co-operative Party organised an event to celebrate the International Year of Co-operatives on 31 May 2012. Held at the STUC building in the West End of the city, the event attracted two very prominent speakers: Graeme Nuttall, partner at European law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse and the Westminster government’s advisor on employee ownership; and Bernard Daly, Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) director and board member of EFES. The theme of the event was employee ownership through financial participation. In Graham’s case, this referred to Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) while Bernard spoke of the history and effects of ESOPs.

While I won’t provide a transcript of their presentations, it is worth commenting briefly on the findings of their respective research. Graeme’s presentation examined the barriers to employee ownership in the UK. The consultation is ongoing (readers can contribute here) but already a number of (expected) obstacles have been identified, including:

  • general lack of awareness of employee ownership amongst entrepreneurs;
  • poor understanding of the model by advisors (financial, legal, and political);
  • existing information relating to employee ownership is often misunderstood; and
  • a lack of teaching and research of employee ownership in education.

Bernard’s presentation then sought to explain the role employee ownership, in particular ESOPs, can play in the privatisation of state-owned companies. He particularly emphasised the need for trade unions to embrace employee ownership and not cling desperately to ideologies that do not benefit their members.

Both of the speaker’s presentations are provided below:

Graeme Nuttall – Using employee benefit trusts for employee ownership

Bernard Daly – ESOPS And The Irish Crisis

Co-ops and public health

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CETS was delighted to play host to a one-day event held in Scottish Enterprise’s HQ in Haymarket, Edinburgh on the 8 May 2012. A small group of co-operators discussed emerging research linking co-operatives, in particular those that are employee-owned, with wider public benefits, especially in relation to health. The aim of the event, besides being a useful networking opportunity for individuals geographically distant, was to produce a consensus on the role co-ops can play in providing public benefit.

Firstly, employee ownership expert David Erdal discussed his pioneering research in the Emilia Romagna region of central Italy. Selecting three towns in the region – each with different levels of the population working in employee-owned businesses – David analysed a number of different social metrics, looking for an association between worker ownership and public benefit.

Next to present were two academics from Mondragón University, who are concluding a study based on David Erdal’s original research. Examining the link between worker ownership and public health benefits in the Basque region of Northern Spain, the researchers have found a positive correlation between worker ownership and public health.

Finally, Virginie Perotín from the University of Leeds presented the findings of her report into the size, benefits and sustainability of worker-owned businesses throughout the world. Virginie’s research provides the economic business base for worker ownership, giving it a robust platform in the public benefit discourse.

This summary does not do justice to the depth and breadth of each of the research findings presented at the event but the main point to highlight is enormous opportunity for co-ops to play a larger role in the achievement of public benefit, in particular the impact on public finances and health. The next stage of this initiative is to make policy-makers and politicians aware of the role of co-ops in delivering public benefit.

Some of the presentations from the event can be accessed at:

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