John Lewis, (almost) the inside story

I mentioned a few weeks back the new study of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership, A Better Way of Doing Business?, which has been published recently.  The book is written by two Open University academics Graeme Salaman and John Storey, and it’s a fascinating read. I’d recommend it to anyone who has an interest in alternative business models (including co-operatives), and in the implications that these models can have on management, business strategy, accountability, corporate governance and employment practices.

I’ve written a review for Co-operative News which I imagine will be in their next print edition. In the meantime, CN has posted the review online.  You’ll find it here.


The state of the British coop economy

This year’s version of the facts and figures booklet from Co-operatives UK The UK Co-operative Economy is now out. It’s a useful reminder that there are more coops out there than just the troubled Co-operative Group, even if the Group remains very much at the top of the table in terms of size.

You do have to interpret the data. Britain’s worker-owned coops are shown as, together, turning over £10.7 billion, but read more carefully and you’ll find that almost £10.2 bn of this is the trade of one business, the John Lewis Partnership, which is arguably only a sort-of-cooperative-and-not-a-coop-at-all-if-we’re-being-very-strict.

It is of course famously difficult to define the cooperative economy. Nevertheless if John Lewis and some very conventional farming businesses  get admitted, then shouldn’t the UK’s remaining mutual insurers also get a look in? And what about the building society sector whilst we’re at it?