Research and Publications


Below we include a statement of the foundational research which gave rise to the establishment of the Unit for Membership Based Organisations followed by a summary of the developing research undertaken since the Units foundation. The statement is followed by a list of the main publications arising from the research.

Statement of Foundational Research

The foundational research that led to the identification of the need for a specialist unit focused on the problems of management, governance and development within the co-operative business model commenced in historical studies into the evolution of co-operative political and economic thinking and practise. Some of this research was published as a paper in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics (1988) and in the International Review of Co-operation (1989) and as a chapter in a book published by Co-operative College and the History Workshop Trust, (1996). A development of this work was disseminated in the long running Journal of Rural Co-operation in its 25th Anniversary issue. A further dissemination of the research came out as a book in Greek and English, (2000) in a joint publication between the Harokopio University, Dept of Home Economics and Ecology, Athens and University of Leicester Management Centre. Some further aspects of this foundational research are now being published as part of a joint paper with Prof Martin Parker in 2007 in the Review of Radical Political Economics.

The contemporary empirical research in to managing in the context of co-operative organisations was taken foreword by a substantial two year programme covering co-operative managers from some 27 countries involved in co-operatives in the agricultural, financial services, consumer housing worker and fishing sectors. (See Davis and Donaldson, 1998).

From the mid 1990s onwards we have focused on what we see as the evolving synergy between the changing emphasis in management thought and co-operative values and principles. In this connection we published two more books on co-operative management, both published by the ILO Co-op Branch in 1999 and 2004. The earlier work by Davis and Donaldson was republished in Spanish by Granica a publisher based in Argentina in 2005.

Essentially our research has identified four ideal types of co-operative management. Three are generally current in the movement the fourth we argue exists but is currently a rare phenomenon and needs to be more generally applied. The current types are:

  • The Charismatic Leader Model
  • The Collective Leadership Model
  • The Civil Service Model

The new emerging type that we have identified based on research at the UK Co-operative Bank plc we refer to as the:

  • Co-operative Value Based Model

This fourth type draws heavily on much contemporary management literature and practice on the role of culture and values as management tools but places it in the very different context of co-operative values and ownership.

Some of the empirical research was developed out of a series of interviews conducted by Barker, Davis and Donaldson through a Loughborough and Leicester University funded joint research programme and was developed by Davis (1995) and Davis and Donaldson (1998) who aimed to synthesise the earlier foundational research, the current context of modern management and the organisational development needs of modern co-operatives. Davis and Donaldson identified seven principles that they believe are essential for the practice of Co-operative Value Based Management in any co-operative business and for the protection and application of the ICA Statement of Co-operative identity. (See below)

The seven Principles of Co-operative Value Based Management:

  • Pluralism
  • Mutuality
  • Individual Autonomy
  • Distributive Justice
  • Natural Justice
  • People Centred
  • Multiple Roles of Work and Labour

We have further explored the application of these principles to HRM, Learning Organisation, Learning Community and Intellectual Capital Theory in the context of the co-operative membership based model of business. In this research we returned to undertake a further case study with permission from the management of the UK Co-operative Bank plc and arising from this mix of theoretical and empirical work we have evolved a new Learning Community model for people management and intellectual capital / knowledge management and development for co-operatives which we define as Co-operative Social Capital Management (CSCM). We suggest that measured in terms of Intellectual Capital the co-operative membership base represents a huge additional human capital resource when modern management practices are applied to it over and above the employee and customer capital available to all progressively run businesses.

Research Dissemination


As either keynote or plenary speaker or chair at fourteen international conferences since 2005. Our most recent engagements include: 26th November, 2014 delivering the Banco Popolare Annual Messedaglia  Lecture at Verona University;  Keynote Speaker at the First East African Conference on Co-operatives, Nairobi, 29th and 30th February, 2016;  Plenary Speaker at 13th European Conference on Management, Leadership and Governance, City University, London,  11th and 12th December, 2017; Guest of the Vatican for its International Conference on Human Rights and the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions and Negations, Rome, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 10th and 11th December, 2018, and, Plenary Speaker, Joint Conference of the Association of Co-operative Educators and the International Co-operative Alliance Research Committee, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 25th and 26th May, 2019.




Davis P and Donaldson J, (1998) Co-operative Management. A Philosophy for Business, New Harmony Press, Cheltenham also in Spanish Management Cooperavista, Grancia Buenos Aries.

Davis, P (1999) Managing the Co-operative Difference. A survey of the application of modern management practices in the co-operative context, Co-operative Branch, ILO, Geneva also in Spanish, Russian, and Indonesian (2010 second edition 2011).

Davis, P (2000) Labour and the Family. Communitarian solutions to marginalisation and poverty, University of Leicester and Harikopio University of Athens, 2000, pp279. ISBN 960-86818-0-4 (In English and Greek).

Davis, P (2004) Human Resource Management in Co-operatives. Theory, Process and Practice, ILO, Geneva.

Publications since 2000

Davis P and Donaldson J (2000) Reasserting the Co-operative Advantage. A Survey of Sixteen British Consumer Co-operative Societies, Journal of Co-operative Studies, Vol. 33:2(No 99) August, pp 124 – 178.

Davis P (2000) Ch. 13 Co-operative Management As A Catholic Vocation, Business Education and Training a Value Laden Process. On the Threshold of the New Millennium, Oxford University Centre for the Study of Values in Education and Business, and University Press of America, Oxford and New York, pp 157-180.

Davis P (2001) The governance of co-operatives under competitive condition: issues, processes and culture, Corporate Governance. The International Journal for Effective Board Performance, MCB University Press, Emerald, Vol. 1 No 4, pp28 – 39.

Davis P (2006) Beyond Human Resource Management in Co-operatives, Cross Cultural Management. An International Journal, Vol.13, No.1, Emerald, pp69 -95.

Davis P (2006) The Implications of Co-operative Values for the Identification of Learning Objectives and Learning and Teaching Strategies in Management Education, Conflict and the Sleep of Reason. Editor Samuel M. Natale, Oxford University Centre for the Study of Values in Education and Business & Global Scholarly Publications, New York, pp379-415.

Davis, P and Parker, M. (2007) Co-operatives, Labor and the State. The English Labor Economists Revisited, Review of Radical Political Economics, Vol. 39, No. 4 Fall, and 523-542.

Davis, (2008) Ch. 9 “Robert Owens Abiding Legacy to Management” in New Views of Society. Robert Owen for the 21st century, Scottish Left Review Press, Edinburgh, pp117 -139.

Davis, (2008) Ch. 10. Values in Business. Does ownership make a significant difference, International Journal of Decision Ethics University of Oxford Centre for Values in Business and Education, Oxford, pp 127 – 143.

Levi Y. and Davis P. (2008) Co-operatives as ‘enfants terribles’ of economics. Some implications for the Social Economy, Journal of Social Economics 2, Elsevier B.V. Amsterdam, pp 2178 -2188.

Van der Horst D. and Davis P. (2009).  Ch. 10. Developing renewable energy: the potential role of cooperatives.  In: Energy Policy: Economic Effects, Security Aspects and Environmental Issues. Nova Publishers, NY, pp 253 - 265.

Davis, P. and   Neto, Sigismundo Bialoskorski (2010) Governança e Gestão de capital social em cooperativas: umaabordagem baseada em valores  (Cooperatives social capital management and governance: a discussion f xc   based in values) ESAC Economia Solidária e Ação Cooperativa, Vol. 5, nº 01, janeiro/junho 2010 , pp 1 -24. ©2010 by Unisinos.

Alexopoulos, George and  Davis,  P (2012) Ch6 Beyond the Shareholder to a new model of Corporate Ownership: It’s Time for the Business Schools to reform the Market Rather than Just Reflect It. The Marketization of Education. Collapse of an Assumptive World, Editors Samuel M. Natale and Anthony F. Libertella, Global Scholarly Publications New York, pp125-154.

Davis P (2012) Co-operatives in the English Speaking World. An Impressionistic Review in the context of the global crisis from a Catholic perspective, OikonomiaAnno 11, Numero 1 Febbraio. Pages 8.

Davis, P (2012) Co-operatives Year 2012. No time for Celebration but maybe the last chance to mobilise the movement for action on the globalisation crisis, International Journal for Co-operative Management, Guest Editor Olive McCarthy, New Harmony Press and the University of Leicester, Leicester, March, pp58-61.

Davis, P (2013) Ch. 8 Upward Social Mobility or Living in reduced Circumstances ? Higher Education: Economic and Social Mobility, Editors Samuel M. Natale and Anthony F. Libertella, Global Scholarly Publications New York, pp151-172.

Davis P (2013) The Loss of the Co-operative Bank. A Symptom of the Systematic Misreading of Co-operative History, Purpose, Philosophy and Economic Theory, Journal of Co-operative Studies, Vol. 46 No 3 (No 139) Winter, pp51 -56.

Davis P (2014) Retrieving the Co-operative Value-Based Leadership Model of Terry Thomas, Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, DOI 10.1007/s10551-014-2489-9

Davis, P, Natale, Samuel M, and Libertella, Anthony F (2017) The Role of Truth in Moral Reasoning in International Journal of Decision Ethics, Vol. X,  Spring 2017,pp139 - 156

Davis, P, (2018) Ethical Agency Contracts as a Basis for Co-operative Management and Leadership, International Journal of Co-operative Accounting and Management, Vol. 1, Number 1 republished from the Conference Publication for the 13th European Conference on Management and Leadership, City, University of London, 11 -12th December, 2017, APCI, Reading.

Davis, P (2018) Ch 6 Leadership as a Profession: A Special Case Dependent on Ownership, Governance, Mission and Vision, in Professionalizing Leadership. Debating Education, Certification and Practice, Editor Anders Ortenblad, Palgrave Macmillan, pp109 -124. ISBN 978-3-319-71784-5

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