In a recent study published on September 25, 2009, Georges Lewi1 and Pascal Perri2 examine the economic model of cooperative farming, whose success should, according to these professors, give food for thought many players of the neo-liberal economy. Under the title “Challenges of cooperative capitalism: What farmers are teaching us regarding the economy”, the study focuses on this little-known system that nevertheless brings together 75% of French farmers, is worth €80 billion, employs 150,000 people and develops well-known brands such as Candia, Béghin-Say, Douce France, Nicolas Feuillatte, etc…
As recipient to both social Christianity and socialism and based on voluntary participation, pooling of capital and a democratic use of power (one man, one vote), the cooperative movement favors values of solidarity, mutual responsibility and education. As outlined by Philippe Mangin, who prefaced the book, “the goal is to associate small and large farmers and to show solidarity between cooperative farms when one of them is failing. It represents collective dynamics in an individualistic society.”
It gives us the opportunity to question anew the “basics” of the current economic model: In the crisis situation that affects all activities, this models reminds us of forgotten values based on solidarity, contract agreements and long term planning. It also provides heads of state with new ideas in their attempts to give a more humane face to globalization.
1 Branding specialist and professor at HEC and at CELSA.
2 Economics professor and a specialist in competition issues as well as Director of PNC, a business strategy consultancy.