Building Co-operation: A Business History of The Co-operative Group, 1863-2013

Hardcover | November 10, 2013

byJohn F. Wilson, Anthony Webster, Rachael Vorberg-Rugh

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Profit with Principles? traces the development of The Co-operative Group and its predecessor, the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS), over the course of 150 years. Born from the efforts of the Rochdale Pioneers and others who established successful consumer co-operatives across Britain in the mid-nineteenth century, by the 1860s the proponents of the CWS were ready to pioneer a new effort: a federation, democratically run and collectively owned, that wouldenable co-operatives to become their own suppliers. From humble origins, the CWS grew into one of Britain's largest businesses within a generation, pioneering modern retailing and distribution on a national scale, expanding into factory production and financial services, and establishing aninternational supply network that stretched across Europe, and beyond. Throughout the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, co-operative societies provided essential services to millions of members across Britain, ranging from food and clothing to banking, insurance, travel agency,pharmacy and even funeral services. However, in the second half of the twentieth century co-operatives experienced a protracted period of decline, facing a series of internal structural challenges, fierce competition amongst food retailers, and a rapidly-changing marketplace. By the turn of the twenty-first century, when manycommentators were ready to consign co-operatives to the past, The Co-operative Group emerged with a revitalised business model that has helped to re-invigorate the British co-operative sector and bring new attention to the important role of co-operative and mutual enterprises worldwide. Based on extensive archival research, including many records available to historians for the first time, Profit with Principles? is the story of a distinctive business model as it evolved over time. While since the inauguration of the CWS in 1863 the commercial landscape has changed nearly beyondrecognition, the values at the heart of The Co-operative Group have remained relevant to succeeding generations, focusing on member benefits and a commitment to ethical trading.

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Profit with Principles? traces the development of The Co-operative Group and its predecessor, the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS), over the course of 150 years. Born from the efforts of the Rochdale Pioneers and others who established successful consumer co-operatives across Britain in the mid-nineteenth century, by the 1860s the...

John Wilson is Director of Newcastle University Business School, where he is also professor of strategy. He has published extensively in the field of international business history, knowledge transfer, and the history of management education, including a dozen monographs and over fifty articles and chapters. As executive editor of Bus...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:750 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 0.01 inPublished:November 10, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199655111

ISBN - 13:9780199655113

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. The Roots and Rise of British Co-operation, c.1780 to 18633. The Rise of The Co-operative Wholesale Society - The Birth and Leadership of a Corporate Giant? 1863 to 18904. The Age of Expansion, 1890 to 19145. War and Peace,1914 to 19386. Co-operation in Retreat: War and Decline, 1939 to 19737. Adapting the Business Model, 1973 to 19908. The Watershed Decade, 1990 to 20009. 'Falling Towards The Centre': A Twenty-First Century 'Renaissance', 2000 to 201310. Conclusion