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Democratic Member Control in Chinese Cooperatives

Proposal Presentation

Parley Reynolds

on 19 August 2013

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Transcript of Democratic Member Control in Chinese Cooperatives

Democratic Member Control in Chinese Cooperatives
Workplace Democracy
By Parley Reynolds
Supervisors: Stephen Blumenfeld
Deborah Jones

Gung Ho
“all members have a share, take full responsibility for profits or losses, and appoint their own officers. It is … for the mass of ordinary people to whom the idea of working together has a powerful and comforting appeal"
(Alley, 1997: p. 310)
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”
Shandan Gung Ho Cooperatives

In actual operation, the methods adopted by Danjingshan Tea Cooperative were: Issued notice to impoverished households on application for free tea seeding  impoverished households made application to the cooperatives within the stipulated time  cooperative approved applications made by impoverished households submitted applications to the Rural Development Bureau for approval. The standards of classifying impoverished households were subject to local standards. Judging from the implementation effects, all applied impoverished households received tea seeding, and the amount of tea seeding issued basically tally with the amount applied for by the applicants. In the end, a total of 28 impoverished households applied for tea seeding, and the amount of tea seeding applied for ranged from amount for a hundreds of square meters of land to thousands of square meters of land. The largest scale was 5.2 mu. All impoverished households successfully completed their planting.

III. Project Effects

As for the project implementation effects, ICCIC adopted a combination of cooperative development ladder assessment tool (DLA) developed by the Canadian Cooperatives Association and improved by ICCIC
according to Chinese characteristics
as well as interviews.

DLA Self-assessment results

1)Composition of assessed samples
A total of 18 cooperative members participated in the DLA assessment, accounting for nearly 30% of the total number of cooperative members. Of these 18 members, a majority of 14 were female, accounting for 78% of the total assessed members. In the age structure, they were mainly middle-aged, including 13 members between the ages of 30 and 50, accounting for over 70% of the total assessed. In terms of education level, 14 were below primary school level, accounting for 78% (see table below). The assessed samples have basically represented the composition of cooperative members.
What is meant by workplace democracy within the Gung Ho Movement?
“A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise”
Bernstein Model (1976)


No one is in a position to assume what constitutes ‘real’ democracy
as it is not a unitary concept, encompassing many types and degrees
(Foucault, 1984; Harrison, 1994)
Problems and potential
How did you hear about the cooperative?
What do you think are the major things distinguishing your cooperative from other organizations?
Why did you decide to join?
How do you benefit from the operation of the cooperative?
What do you feel you contribute to the cooperative?
What does democratic participation within cooperatives mean to you? How important is this to you?
What issues/ decisions do you democratically participate in?
Do you think you have influence in your cooperative? If yes, what is the process and how do you make use of it?
How much of your time is spent in decision making meetings? Do you think this is enough or too much?
Do you think there are people with more influence and power in your cooperative? How did they gain their power?
How do you evaluate the leadership of the cooperative?
Do you think you have means to hold the leaders accountable?
What are the major challenges that are facing your cooperative? What challenges do you see for the organization in the future? How do you see the cooperative dealing with these challenges?
“Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategic situation in a particular society”.
“Power is relations; power is not a thing”
“A system of governance which truly values individual goals and feelings …

…as well as typically organizational objectives…

which actively fosters the connection between those two sets of concerns by encouraging individual contributions to important organizational choices, and which allows for the on-going modification of the organizations activities and policies by the group.”

Cheney (1995)
what is the scope of issues that the democratic system has control over?
trivial welfare issues
vital strategic decisions
democratic participation on every decision except....
What is the true extent of influence?
Behind closed doors?
a vote?
Participation at the bottom
Business as usual....
who holds authority to speak and make decisions within the organization?
how they gained that power?
where the points of tension and resistance in the democratic process are?
what practices and procedures of WD have become legitimized through the use of ‘official’ documents?
in what ways is it (in)appropriate for those who do not share the common goals or objectives of leaders within the cooperative to resist this power (Powers, 2007).
Thanks for listening :)
What I already know...

Women do most of the work
Long existing collective ideas
Entrepreneurial exploitation
Feel like Beijing doesn't understand their situation
Ethical Implications

Politically Sensitive?
Yes and No
Full transcript