The co-operative impulse of SCOP-SCIC (French co-operative firms): potential spillover of internal cooperation into relationships between organisations – COOP-in-AND-out
The research program COOP-in-and-out is centred on firms organized into Scop (co-operative and participative society) and Scic (co-operative society of collective interest). They are firms characterised by employee participation. Contrary to what happens in conventional firms, workers are also members and take an active part in the management of the firm.
Our investigation focuses on the links between this specific internal management and the relationships these firms maintain with external stakeholders. Can the distinctive internal co-operation of the Scop and Scic also be found at the level of their external relationship? The hypothesis can be presumed, considering their observed “inter-cooperation” and their strong territorial presence, giving evidence of the specific relations with some external stakeholders. This leads us to look into the structuring effect of cooperation put forward by these firms on productive and specifically territorial dynamics.
A better understanding of the way relations are co-determined between the internal and external stakeholders is important, beyond the specific case of the Scop and Scic. The issue meets with essential stakes for the whole productive system within the context of present changes: on one hand the "disintegration" of the firm highlights the issue of the relationship between firms; on the other hand, the emergence of "knowledge economy” crucially requires the creation of a co-operative co-ordination method between firms, internally as well as externally.
The adopted framework of the neo-institutionalist theory of the organizations is suited for this hypothesis of a possible "co-operative boost” of the Scop and Scic within productive systems. It leads us to consider these firms as potential agents of an “institutional work” transformation process, while acknowledging the institutional forces of "isomorphism" they are subject to. A possible feedback effect of the non-co-operative logics upon the internal management is to be considered.
The team of 11 researchers mobilised by the program is organised into 3 geographical centres, Grenoble, Lyon and Aix-Marseille, which makes decentralized field work easier. The multidisciplinary approach assures complementary skills and is in keeping with an "institutionalist" theorical framework. Besides, most of the members of the team are integrated into research networks on Social and Solidary Economics and have already led research in that field.
The work program is planned in 3 stages: the first one involves a reflexion about the evaluation tools of the firms' internal and external co-operation, which should result in the drawing up of a "synthetic indicator of co-operation”. That reflection starts from a very general grasp of co-operation as co-ordination around a “common good”, with variations for each type of relations. The second stage consists in using those evaluation tools to conduct empirical research based on a crossed observation of Scop, Scic and of the productive systems these societies are bound to. One of the expected final product is a cartography of the “belonging networks” of the studied cases. Finally, the third stage stems from the results of these case studies to build a typology of the integration methods of the Scop and Scip into the productive system according to their co-operation level.
At the end of this research program, the expected results aim at proving the interdependence of internal and external types of relationships for firms facing a coherence constraint. The compulsory association of democratization and stimulation of the productive system could thus be confirmed.
Monsieur Hervé CHARMETTANT (Centre de recherche en économie de Grenoble)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
CREG Centre de recherche en économie de Grenoble
Help of the ANR 64,688 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2015 - 36 Months