Welcome to the International Cooperative Research Group

The International Cooperative Research Group is a division of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC). Our mission is to research, formulate and share effective strategies for the development, performance and growth of cooperatives in developing countries.

OCDC formed the Research Group in response to increasing recognition from within and outside the cooperative community that cooperative performance needs to be measured more rigorously, and lessons learned from research results should be applied systematically to improve performance.

The Research Group’s priority research themes for 2015-2016, as determined by the OCDC board of directors, include the:

  • Impact of cooperatives on members, including women and youth
  • Role of good governance in keeping cooperatives democratic
  • Impact of co-op size and complexity on member benefits
  • Ways in which raising equity capital keeps co-ops financially strong

Through the exploration of these themes, the Research Group will draw lessons that can be applied systematically to improve co-op performance for the benefit of all cooperative members.

In addition to conducting research in collaboration with OCDC member organizations*, the Research Group also works with international cooperative development organizations, cooperatives, and researchers to identify, analyze, and propose practical solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing cooperatives overseas.

Our research initiatives
For example, in partnership with Self Help Africa, an Irish nongovernmental organization (NGO), the Research Group is studying how member usage and benefits can be increased for malt barley farmers in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Currently fewer than 10% of the farmer-members sell their production to the co-ops. The results from this research will be used to identify investments for building the capacity of the cooperatives to best serve members, overcome the lack of trust at all levels, and develop mechanisms to encourage member loyalty.

The Research Group also is working in conjunction with Euricse, an Italian foundation, on a project to assess the advantages and challenges of supporting cooperative development in countries that do not have a tradition of cooperation.

A concurrent project with Oxfam-GB explores the factors and attributes that enable agricultural cooperatives working with smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America to achieve both commercial success and developmental impact.

An applied approach to research
An important goal of the Research Group is to help ensure that members of cooperatives in developing countries have the tools and information necessary to actively participate and succeed. We believe the best way to do this is by taking an applied approach to research that is accessible and can be implemented by cooperative development organizations, cooperatives and individual members.

For more information or to discuss partnership opportunities, please contact:
Paul Hazen, OCDC executive director
Email: phazen@ocdc.coop
Phone: 202-261-3558