International Cooperative Research Group

A Division of OCDC


Gave the impetus to its decision to establish The Research Group. The research is designed around two predominant lines of work:
Establishing evidence of the usefulness and impact of cooperative development for alleviating poverty and inclusive economic growth.
Understanding more deeply the environments and conditions in which cooperatives flourish – or fail to flourish – and advance the economic and social well-being of their members.

Understanding more deeply the environments and conditions in which cooperatives flourish – or fail to flourish – and advance the economic and social well-being of their members.

The RG designs, directly undertakes and partners with academic and practitioner partners to carry out rigorous research that helps to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It also fosters a learning community within OCDC and provides resources and information related to cooperative development to OCDC members and to the broader international cooperative and development community.
CONTEXT: An expert group convened by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, prior to the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, identified the lack of cooperative research as a constraint to the effectiveness of cooperatives. (“Cooperatives in Social Development: Beyond 2012.”)
Cooperative Development Offers A Practical Pathway for Economic Inclusion
Year 3 Annual Report. ICRG & OCDC
This past year marks the halfway point of the Cooperative Research, Education, and Dissemination (CRED) activity. As an inclusive, democratically organized private sector mechanism that catalyzes broad-based economic growth, cooperative development offers a practical pathway for economic inclusion. The International Cooperative Research Group (ICRG) is proud to report excellent progress in meeting our objectives of increasing impact and uptake of international cooperative development. At the center of our accomplishments is the completion of an ambitious, academically rigorous multi-country study, What Difference Do Cooperatives Make? (WDDCM)
Most Recent Publications
WDDCM Global Outcomes Report
The “headline” findings from WDDCM are that across all four countries, members of cooperatives are outperforming national averages. They are more likely to have higher than average incomes, and less likely to be very poor. Figure 1 compares the average economic class ranking across all four countries of the study, demonstrating cooperative members’ consistently higher economic status compared to national averages. Across the board, economic reasons are the primary motivation for people to join cooperatives. Read the Report >
WDDCM Peru Country Study
Through WDDCM, the ICRG focuses its investigation on the impact that local level (primary society) cooperative organizations have in their members’ lives. Cooperatives to which respondents in this study belong are memberowned, member-controlled, and operate in line with international cooperative principles. For the purpose of this study, cooperatives are defined as “…people-centered, private sector enterprises, owned, controlled, and run by and for their members to realize their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations Read the Report >
WDDCM Philippines Country Study
The WDDCM research results from the Philippines demonstrate that cooperative members are, in most cases, in better economic positions than non-members and the general population. Several key findings indicate that there is indeed a “cooperative difference” in the Philippines. Excitingly, women are equitably represented in cooperatives and are reaping economic advantages from their cooperative membership like their male counterparts. Social capital is generally high in the Philippines and this study found that it is slightly higher for cooperative members compared to non-members. This report presents the key findings immediately below, and at its closing, explores policy implications of the research findings. Read the Report >

Recent Posts


Resilience | Inclusive growth | Enabling Environments | Innovation
What Difference Do cooperatives make?
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 those who are not cooperative members. A suite of three reports is available for each country on the OCDC website – together with a Global Outcomes Synthesis Report.
Ten Cooperative Development Organizations (CDOs) are members of OCDC. Each organization, including ICRG, implements activity under USAID’s Cooperative Development Program. Cooperative Development Program (CDP) activities span 13 countries, thousands of cooperatives, and hundreds of thousands of cooperative members. The projects involve value chains that range from agriculture, coffee, fisheries, and credit unions and address topics from gender equality, supply chain stabilization, COVID-19 response, and job creation. 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.
CDP’s Human Impact

The self-reported data shown in the map is current as of 03/2022 and is updated periodically. Below are vignettes that illustrate the human impact that the CDP is having around the world: the faces behind the numbers!

Member Portraits

December 14, 2021

Meet Sam – manager of a wedding gowns cooperative business from the Philippines. When threatened by Covid-19 pandemic, co-operative helped Sam and other member businesses survive and overcome related shocks. Mutual help and support provided when needed, inclusion, and belief in members’ skills and dedication are cooperative values that make them what they are!

December 7, 2021

Meet Sabina – a coffee farmer from Peru. Irrigation system installed by the cooperative provided her and other local farmers with water to grow new corps and raise animals. We often forget to recognize the importance of this resource and only focus on it in moments of scarcity. For Sabina, water meant new opportunities so she was willing to apply the new technique with an open mind, dedication, and hard work.

December 1, 2021

Meet Florence – A Potato and vegetable farmer from Kenya. After retiring from a teaching job Florence engaged in farming and started an informal women support group to help them get better potato yields. A local Savings and Credit Cooperative (Sacco) helped when obtaining credit from other sources became impossible. Working and learning together, with Sacco’s technical support Florence was able to increase hers, and other women’s productivity and incomes.
A resource library and learning platform designed with OCDC members in mind, The Hub houses a collection of assets that are carefully curated to aid and inform the success of your cooperative development programming. These hand-picked resources have been fully vetted in accordance with OCDC resource criteria and requirements. Among others, these require resources be credible and relevant, but also actionable to meet your needs as practitioners at the forefront of the cooperative movement. Please come in and stay awhile, and then come back soon! The Hub is always growing to meet your needs in the topic areas currently covered and in new areas as well!
Rural Electrification

Guides for Electric Cooperative Development and Rural Electrification

NRECA International produced this publication to advance the basic understanding of rural electrification development for policymakers, donor organizations, and practitioners. The publication leads the reader through 10 self-contained modules covering the organizational, legal, technical, and financial aspects of rural electrification project design and implementation and electric cooperative development. The entire collection can be accessed here:

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Rural Cooperatives

What Makes Rural Cooperatives Resilient in Developing Countries

Rural Cooperatives: this article reviews the literature, particularly with respect to sub-Saharan Africa, that co-operative organizational resilience centres on co-operatives’ multidimensionality and the development of collective capability in five mutually reinforcing areas of activity. These are membership, networks, collective skills in governance, innovation and engagement with governments. Together, they strengthen co-operatives’ resilience, but where lacking,

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Measurements for Tracking Indicators of Cooperative Success (METRICS): New Challenges and Opportunities in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Date of Publication: 2009 | Author: Dr. John W. Mellor | Journal/Publication: US Overseas Cooperative Development Council and the United States Agency for International Development. Link: Measurements for Tracking Indicators of Cooperative Success (METRICS) is the third major OCDC initiative. It addresses the question: What characteristics produce the greatest probability of a cooperative surviving and

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