The International Cooperative Research Group
Academic Rigor > Local Engagement > Practical Application > Cooperative Excellence
The International Cooperative Research Group (ICRG) focuses on cooperative research, education, and dissemination of ideas, working closely with local researchers and cooperative development organizations. We carry out rigorous field-based research that bridges the gap between theory and practice. In the ICRG’s research, learning, and application model, research activity builds trust, ownership, and uptake of outcomes through engagement with key local stakeholders. This collaborative approach amplifies our research outcomes, deepens local uptake of concepts, and thus changes lives.

From the Ground Up: Partnering with cooperatives on Locally Led Development

A Center For Cooperative Research Excellence

Academically rigorous methods addressing gaps in knowledge. Bridging research results into practice.
How It Began
OCDC’s commitment to equitable development provided the impetus to establish The International Cooperative Research Group (ICRG). Our driving force is understanding the conditions in which cooperatives flourish, in order for them to advance the economic and social well-being of their members.
Our Unique Approach
ICRG occupies a special niche in the research space.  We see dissemination and learning as integral parts of the research process. And so, we combine rigorous methods and diverse strategies for stakeholder engagement, with the intention of fostering and facilitating local ownership and application of the outcomes. Our goal is to produce evidence-backed data to support worldwide cooperative development.
Our Conviction

For us, research provides more than data supported evidence for sound decision making. It provides a platform for dialogue and focus on the issues that challenge of inclusive, broad-based growth. What emerges is locally-led development consistent with the priorities and aspirations of the people themselves. We share our research outcomes widely in different formats with different constituencies, including communities, policymakers, practitioners, and academics, opening the door to learning and adaptation.

Co-creating Value

Partnering with cooperative development organizations enhances impact, promotes collaboration, and deepens credibility. Partnering with local researchers builds local knowledge which in turn enriches the research and dissemination process. The cooperative model enhances the economic standing and social capital of its members and contributes to the greater community. The ICRG’s research process points the way to increase and sustain these impacts.

Empowering Decision Makers to Better Serve Their Community
“International Cooperative Research Group under OCDC, has undertaken important research which shows cooperative membership greatly economically benefits men and women. However there remains more to be done in enabling these benefits to be more widely shared through greater cooperative membership … I hope these findings would spur further debate on the role played by women in cooperatives. My department will endeavor to support activities geared towards improving the cooperative sector by increasing the involvement of women as members and leaders.” – Mr. Ali Noor Ismail – Global Evidence Summit, 2019

Kenya Principal Secretary | Mr. Ali Noor Ismail

Dr. Judith Hermanson

Research Director

Judith Hermanson is the Research Director of OCDC, an association of cooperative development organizations where she previously served on the Board and twice as its Chair. As Research Director, she leads OCDC’s research activities that seek to develop evidence about the effectiveness of the cooperative development business model and to enhance learning to improve program design and impact…Read More
Barbara Czachorska-Jones

Learning & Training Manager

Barbara brings years of cooperative development experience to her role as Learning and Training Manager at the ICRG. She formerly worked at Global Communities where, among other accomplishments, she played a lead role in the development of OCDC’s CLARITY tool. Before she joined Global Communities in the early 1990s, Dr. Barbara Czachorska-Jones pursued a legal career in Poland, receiving her doctorate degree in law from the Institute of Legal Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences…Read More

Sylandi Brown

Communications Manager

Sylandi Brown is the Communications Manager for the International Cooperative Research Group (ICRG), the research arm of the U.S Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC). As Communications Manager, Sylandi oversees and supports communications, marketing and outreach for the ICRG’s various research initiatives and projects…Read More
Meghan Fitzgerald

Senior Researcher

Meghan R. Fitzgerald is a social science researcher with international experience in the Arab world, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Fitzgerald holds a Ph.D. in Health Policy and an MPH in Global Health from Oregon State University, where she focused on the impact of the Israeli occupation on intimate partner violence and access to services among women in Palestine…Read More
Nicholas Hung

Research Associate

Nicholas Hung is the Research Assistant at the US OCDC & The ICRG where he provides qualitative and quantitative analysis for the Group’s research and various projects. Nicholas received his Bachelors in Psychology and Political Science from Occidental College and his Masters in International Economics and China Studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies…Read More

Rebecca Savoie

Senior Researcher

Rebecca Savoie has over 25 years of experience in international agriculture and agribusiness development. She believes in the transformative power of ownership and is a superfan of the cooperative business model.  Dr. Savoie has lived in Tanzania, Uganda, Liberia, and Egypt, and supported projects, training, coaching, and research in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the US…

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Collaboration: Designed to Promote Partnerships

Internationally recognized scholars in the field of cooperatives contribute to the Research Group’s study methodology, research reports, learning events and research fora. With their time, talent and networks, our Research Advisory Committee increases our impact.


Head of Research, the Cooperative College – United Kingdom

Robert D. Patridge Chair
Department of Agricultural
Economics – University of Missouri

Academic Director, Sobey School of Business Saint Mary’s University – Canada

Courageous Research
Bruno Roelants – Evidence Summit May, 2021

“One of the reasons we’d like to place specific attention on this study is methodological … On behalf of The International Cooperative Alliance, we strongly welcome the study, WDDCM” – Bruno Roelants, Director General, International Cooperative Alliance

Our Initiatives | The ICRG Program of Work

 Four Cooperative Research & Learning Themes

Within these four themes, the ICRG is currently implementing 15 separate initiatives. Themes within these initiatives are examined through topics that include:
  • Climate Change
  • Economic Performance
  • Economic & Social Impacts
  • Social Networks
  • Technology
  • Health and
  • Migration
Cross-cutting themes include gender, governance, and/or youth.
Geographic areas of activity are currently Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa

The ICRG recently completed a major multi-country study: What Difference Do Cooperatives Make? The study was carried out in Kenya, Peru, Philippines, and Poland, revealing a strikingly similar pattern of findings that show a measurable economic, social and community difference for members of cooperatives as compared to non-members.

Made Possible With Collaboration

Local ownership and locally led development result in amplified outcomes for the Research Group.

The Personal Stories Behind The Numbers
We look deeper into the impacts cooperatives make on livelihoods, social well-being and economic well-being of cooperative members.
Evidence-backed data-sharing
to support worldwide
cooperative development.

Inclusive, transparent and participatory. This approach builds trust and credibility, while empowering decision makers with access to data. This leads to the uptake of research findings, which strengthens local cooperative development.


There are currently 10 organizations, including the ICRG, that are implementing projects under the Cooperative Development Program.  Other implementers include: ACDI VOCA, Equal Exchange, Frontier Co-Op, GENEX, Global Communities, Health Partners, Land O’Lakes Venture 37, NCBA CLUSA, NRECA and World Council. CDP activities take place in a range of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working with thousands of cooperatives, and hundreds of thousands of cooperative members. The projects include various agricultural value chains, such as dairy and livestock, coffee, cocoa, fisheries and others; to energy and power; and housing; among others. All CDP activities embrace strategies to address gender equality and inclusion. In the course of this work, the activities impact key development issues such as job creation, market access, COVID-19 response, aligned with the needs and priorities of the cooperative members. This map shows CDP activities and impacts by CDO and by country. Explore the breadth and depth of the CDP impact using the interactive features of this map.




A resource portal and learning platform designed to grow your understanding of international cooperative development. We hope they’ll meet your needs as practitioners at the forefront of the cooperative movement. Please visit as long as you like and then come back soon! We hope this information generates more discussion within your own organizations, communities of practice, and beyond. The ICRG would be happy to provide more information about any of the included resources – feel free to contact us at!
E-Learning Portal
An info repository to support remote management & collaboration
The-Hub Portal
A collection of assets curated to inform the success of your cooperative.
Annual Learning Event
These event materials were developed around the USAID Climate Strategy.

Related posts from the icrg

This pilot project is testing the concept of using geospatial data to determine patterns and determinants of cooperative business performance to better understand the performance of primary cooperative societies and improve decision-making. GIS and field-based survey data are analyzed concurrently, and then compared to data obtained during previous ICRG research.
Exploring New Technologies and Opportunities for Cooperative Efficiency and Innovation
Other Major Activities
Incubate new research areas of interest
Continued WDDCM dissemination program using diverse media and fora
Foster and strengthen international cooperative development community of practice
Hold learning events, host information exchanges, convene research forums and policy roundtables to engage stakeholders and to disseminate research findings
Develop tools to bridge research to application
Present research and related products at international meetings and conferences
Develop robust research partnerships
Provide an interactive and robust knowledge platform to inform and support international cooperative development practitioners, cooperatives and their leaders, donors and local and national policy-makers.
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