The promotion of its members' acquisition and economy has always been the cooperatives' legal mandate, and is thus a distinctive feature in the differentiation from other companies. In practice, this is evident in many forms; however, they must all lead to one goal, which is added value for the member. This added value for members was challenged by the speakers of the 19th IGA annual conference on 6 November 2015 at the Hilton Conference Hotel in Innsbruck, under the general topic Can the cooperative mission still succeed in adding value?".
The first speaker, Dr Nadja Fabrizio, Senior Scientific Assistant at the IFU/BLI at the University of Lucerne, painted an impactful picture of the development of the mission over time, and highlighted in particular that from the outside, cooperatives are mainly perceived to be in the social sphere. She concluded with an outlook on strategically useful potentials of the cooperatives' mandate in the future.
Mr Josef Wielander, Director at VI.P coop. soc. Agricola, gave a superb account of the steadily increasing, positive effects of the cooperatives' work in the fruit business on a whole region, namely the Vinschgau Valley in South Tyrol. The effects encompass practically every sector, from industry and trading companies, local cooperative banks and workplaces, to tourism and culture, middle-class life, and not least the feeling of solidarity among the people of the region.
For Mr Franz Reischl, Managing Director of BÄKO-Österreich e.Gen., the cooperatives' mission is, in short, to simplify the world for its members. Especially in highly competitive markets, community leads to market strengths, which one alone can never achieve. However, joint activity must not only be reflected in sales, but also in other services e.g. training.
Using "Raiffeisen Forum Mödling" as a model during his presentation, Dr Alois Zach, Director of Raiffeisen Regionalbank Mödling eGen, explained how Raiffeisenbank Mödling considers regional added value and quality of life as a starting point for a modern implementation of the mandate. Following this approach, the direct promotion of individual members turns into an indirect promotion through the various measures in the region.
At the end of the conference, Mr Justus Reichl, Head of the Administrative Department for Cooperative Strategies and Perspectives at the Austrian Raiffeisen Association, presented various opportunities of a modern arrangement of the mandate, also through examples that have already been implemented, and offered this to the conference participants as food for thought. He stressed that significantly improved communication is required in this respect, in order for the individual to experience the implementation of the mission more vividly.
During the closing discussion, which was led by Ms Regina Wenninger, Head of the Executive Board and Communication at the Bavarian Cooperative Association, the participants had the opportunity to talk directly to the speakers so as to gain further insight into the various topics.
All presentations and the content of the discussion can be found in detail in the conference transcript No. 19 of our institute, which you can order directly from our office at any time.
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