Logo for International Cooperative Research Group


The International Cooperative Research Group is a division working within OCDC to design and implement rigorous research into the impact and effectiveness of cooperatives in international development.

OCDC’s commitment to equitable development underlies its decision establish the Research Group, which carries out research for two major reasons:

  • Establish evidence of the usefulness and impact of cooperative development for alleviating poverty and inclusive economic growth
  • Understand more deeply the environments and conditions in which cooperatives flourish – or fail to flourish – and advance the economic and social well-being of their members

An expert group convened by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, prior to the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, identified the lack of cooperative research as a constraint to the effectiveness of cooperatives. (“Cooperatives in Social Development: Beyond 2012.”)

Research approach
OCDC’s research is governed by the following principles:

  • Rigorous design and application of research methodology
  • Design for generalization and applicability of results
  • Focus on bridging research and practice
  • Objective analysis
  • Wide dissemination of results

Current research agenda

The Research Group is focused on an agenda approved by OCDC’s board of directors. It looks at the impact of cooperatives on the social and economic well-being of cooperative members, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on primary societies. At the heart of the agenda is a multi-year, multi-country, cross-regional and cross-sectoral research initiative. In this ambitious study, currently in its design phase, the Research Group will examine cooperative impacts through field-based research.

Lessons derived from this research will be applied in the design of cooperative development programs by OCDC members, as well as shared widely within the international cooperative development community. 

Key themes in our research agenda include:

  • Role of cooperatives in alleviating poverty
  • Role of cooperatives in increasing equity and reducing inequality
  • Elements necessary for enhancing cooperative capacity and economic sustainability
  • Illumination of the comparative advantages of co-ops and conditions necessary for them

We also will explore:

  • Impact of cooperatives on members, including women and youth
  • Role of good governance in keeping cooperatives democratic and economically viable
  • Impact of cooperative size and complexity on member benefits and cooperative viability
  • Ways in which raising equity capital keeps cooperatives financially strong
  • Impact of cooperatives on the broader community in which they are located

On-going research partnership initiatives

The Research Group currently is working with partners on three research projects in two key regions of the world:

Connections to community

The Research Group works independently, as well as with partners. It works collaboratively with OCDC members on issues of common interest. In addition, it supports individual cooperative development organization (CDO) research through technical assistance and dissemination of results.

The Research Group also works with other organizations to design, co-fund and carry out specific research initiatives. Organizations interested in partnering with the Research Group to carry out research in partnership or to disseminate their own research may contact us at researchgroup@ocdc.coop.

For more information or to discuss partnership opportunities, please contact:
Judith Hermanson, Research Group director
Email: jhermanson@ocdc.coop