Research Approach:

OCDC’s research is designed to contribute to the global dialogue and to have useful and practical implications.  The two general types are:

    • Policy-oriented focus including conducive environments
    • Practice-oriented focus including performance

Within these areas, research interests reflect priorities of members and fill gaps in existing research.

Current interests include:

  • Business Performance
    • Adapting to and harnessing technology
    • What do buyers want from cooperatives
    • Challenges to member equity
    • Challenges and opportunities for new equity mechanisms
    • Ethical business practices and cooperative values
  • Enabling Environments
    • Evidence gathering regarding the benefits of cooperatives & cooperative business model
    • What costs and benefits arise from serving the “last mile” of electricity and health
    • Characteristics of successful models
  • Greater Support to Cooperatives
    • Deeper understanding of the penetration of cooperatives
    • Effective strategies for engagement of youth
    • Creation of greater agency for women
    • Donor policies supporting effective programming
    • Exit strategies that ensure sustainability

The RG working hypothesis is that cooperative development, when done well is a powerful instrument for measurably enhancing the economic, social and community well-being of cooperative members.  However, the research activities are carried out in an objective manner, following the evidence where it leads.  It also seeks to understand nuance and complexity while at the same time seeking generalizable outcomes.    It generally has the following characteristics:

  • Rigorous design and research methods
  • Research implementation in partnerships with member CDOs, other organizations and scholars and experts
  • Applicability of results
  • Transparency Wide and diverse methods for dissemination of results to diverse constituencies
  • Tools and training materials based on research outcomes where appropriate
  • Research inquiry and results at the heart of the cooperative development learning community

Current Research Agenda:

The Research Group is focused on an agenda approved by OCDC’s board of directors which is updated annually.

Lessons derived from this research will be applied in the design of cooperative development programs by OCDC members, as well as shared widely within the international cooperative development community.

Visit our project pages to learn more about our ongoing research!

Key themes
 in our broader research agenda include:

  • Role of cooperatives in alleviating poverty
  • Role of cooperatives in increasing equity and reducing inequality
  • Elements necessary for enhancing cooperative capacity and economic sustainability
  • Illumination of the comparative advantages of co-ops and conditions necessary for them

We also will explore:

  • Enhancement of roles of women and youth
  • Role of good governance in keeping cooperatives democratic and economically viable
  • Impact of cooperative size and complexity on member benefits and cooperative viability
  • Ways in which raising equity capital keeps cooperatives financially strong
  • Impact of cooperatives on the broader community in which they are located

Connections to Community:

The Research Group works independently, as well as with partners. It works collaboratively with OCDC members on issues of common interest. In addition, it supports individual cooperative development organization (CDO) research through technical assistance and dissemination of results.

The Research Group also works with other organizations to design, co-fund and carry out specific research initiatives. Organizations interested in partnering with the Research Group to carry out research in partnership or to disseminate their own research may contact us at

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