We have a wide range of expertise within CICS covering economics, finance, HRM, industrial relations, organisational analysis, social audit, governance and democratic practice. Our work is based upon an international archive of cooperative and social economy sources built up over the last 6 years.
In a fast moving area developments in practice and academic analysis are closely monitored - not least by our own practice - providing us with a leading and 'in touch' edge. A wide range of research methodologies are used, but we are particularly concerned to use methods that allow clients own perspectives to be heard and developed.
Current projects include:
A review of the Credit Union movement in Wales, for Welsh Assembly Government
This research aims to build a better understanding of credit unions as individual entities as well as how they work together as a movement in Wales as a means of understanding the impact of previous programmes of government support and to help steer future policy development, both within government and the movement, towards achieving the long term goal of becoming financially self-sustaining. It will complement other work already underway on providing a baseline picture of financial exclusion, financial capability and over-indebtedness in Wales, and mapping the Social Enterprise Sector in Wales. In particular, this piece of work will provide a deeper and more detailed understanding of the size, scope, nature and financial health of Credit Unions in Wales.
Recent advisory, consultancy and contracted research projects include:
Mutual Solutions for the Public Services, for Wales Co-operative Centre
We have been exploring the role for mutuals in public services as part of a research contract with Wales Co-operative Centre. Over recent years ‘mutualism’ and ‘cooperative ownership’ have become central concepts in the discourse over the reshaping of public services. As such they are being used currently to describe a wide variety of ways of associating, owning and controlling the equity and the value that is created in production. This understanding has particular relevance in the case of public services, where public money is spent to achieve social outcomes. If these services are organised cooperatively then the value created is anchored in to local communities. There is, however, the need for a critical edge in discussions concerning mutual solutions for public services, where the distinctions between privatisation and mutualisation can be blurred and where issues such as ownership and control are too often marginalised. In the Welsh context progress is most advanced in the area of housing, where the ideological preference for reducing the level of state ownership has made stock transfer the preferred policy for housing. CICS researchers are moving on to consider the implications of mutualisation for other areas of public services such as child- and elder-care.
Response to the Wales Assembly Government Social Enterprise Action Plan on behalf of Wales Institute for Research into Cooperatives
CICS major contribution to the policy discussion surrounding the social economy is its emphasis on the importance of ownership and control. We have developed the concept of capital anchoring, to explore possibilities for resisting the power of the global economy to suck value out of local economies. We also suggest the need for associative entrepreneurship in areas with a strong radical tradition where the individualist entrepreneurial model is not appropriate.
Social Enterprise and the Cultural Industries: a comparative evaluation of the role of three development agencies in promoting cultural enterprise and economic regeneration
Research funded by the Wales Assembly Government New Ideas Fund
Co-operative Audit of Wales
Published in 2004, the results of this research indicate that the cooperative sector is a large and growing part of the Welsh economy. It consists of two distinct parts: the older, well-established cooperatives, including the Cooperative Group, the remaining mutual building societies, Cooperative Financial Services, and the farmers’ supplies coops, and a larger group of smaller and more recently established cooperatives. These in turn fall into two groups: those that were created defensively, generally as a worker buyout, to prevent the closure of a business due to asset-stripping or succession; and those that were created as cooperatives due to an ideological commitment to creating a different kind of economy. In Wales some of the largest cooperatives are found in the agricultural sector, where producers join together into groups to market their produce in what are known as ‘secondary cooperatives’. We have discovered employee-owned companies operating successfully in fields as diverse as printing, packaging, engineering, and building. There is also small but growing number of cooperatives in broadly green areas such as renewable energy technology.
Research reports on procurement, housing and childcare
For Wales Co-operative Centre