7. Making the Case: "Why should Anywhere have a CDA?"

7.1 General Points

7.1.1 The Importance of Co-operative Enterprises

There are a number of benefits which accrue to co-ops. Foremost among these is an increased commitment from staff. Knowing that they have a stake in the success or failure of a company is a proven incentive for shop floor and management alike. A co-operative also blurs distinctions between ranks and capacities within companies. This has a marked effect on improving internal communications and, as many Japanese, German and American companies have already discovered, this in itself can be a goldmine.

There is clear benefit, from a management point of view, in being able to address both shareholders and workforce at one and the same time. Reporting is made much simpler, more cost-effective, and there is usually a better common understanding of the state of the company and what this may imply for shareholders/employees. In properly run co-operatives, there is still plenty of scope for quick decision making by individuals with delegated authority. The main difference is that these decisions are reviewed more regularly and perhaps more thoroughly than in an ordinary company or plc.

Furthermore, like it or not, we live in a consumer democracy. Where you spend your pound is as, if not more, important as where you cast your vote. The reality is that government, especially local government, is regularly undermined by economic forces and considerations. Among the advantages of co-operatives, from the point of view of Local Authorities and communities, is the fact that ownership is in the hands of local voters. Local voters appreciate the efforts of Local Authorities in developing the infrastructure. Distant shareholders may not recognise the value of a good municipal transport system or the importance of a local school or hospital. In addressing the concerns of local co-operatives, LA initiatives are appealing both to local citizens and to local enterprise.