Researchers from The University of Western Australia have been awarded federal funds through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme to undertake a multidisciplinary project to understand the economic and social contribution of the Western Australian Co-operative and Mutual Enterprise (CME) sector to the state’s development over the period from the 1860s to the present.
Valued at $395, 790, the study will examine the WA CME contribution through the lens of selected organizations that represent a cross-section of the State’s industries.
“We will explore the economic histories of several current and former CMEs, including Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd. (CBH); Wesfarmers Ltd; RAC WA; Capricorn Society Ltd; Co-operative Federation of WA; Mount Barker Co-operative Ltd; York & Districts Co-operative Ltd; United Crate Co-operative Ltd; Albany Co-operative Society Ltd., and Perth Building Society Ltd.
“We will investigate the major external and internal forces that shaped the fortunes. In doing so, it will build on a multi-disciplinary foundation, drawing together the disciplines of history, economics, management, and marketing, to provide a unique perspective of the roles played by these enterprises” says Project Leader, Winthrop Professor Tim Mazzarol, Director of the Co-operative Enterprise Research Unit (CERU) at the UWA Business School.
Associate Professor Amin Mugera, from UWA School of Agriculture and Environment’s Centre for Agricultural Economics and Development (CAED) is a key member of the project. He will be conducting an econometric analysis of the structural change in WA’s co-operative sector and how this has affected the WA economy. A survey will also be conducted to assess the role WA CMEs have played in addressing the impacts of environmental shocks such as droughts, cyclones, bushfires, climate change, and disease. The survey will also assess how WA CMEs have adapted their business models to respond to political, economic, social, technological, and environmental challenges, and what they have done to offer value to members.
The findings from this study, amongst other things, will provide evidence that will help to shape the policy debate, specifically the lessons that the historical record demonstrates in relation to the impact of legislation and policy decisions by state and federal governments.
Other members of the project team are, Professor David Gilchrist, an economic historian with the UWA Business School, A/Professor Andrea Gaynor, a leading historian with the UWA Centre for WA History, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey N. Soutar, a distinguished scholar in the field of marketing and management, and Mr. Peter Wells, Executive Secretary of the Co-operatives Federation of WA.
Read the ARC announcement of 2022 successful ARC Linkage grants
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