Consumer co-operatives and the transformation of modern food retailing : A comparative study of the Norwegian and British Consumer Co-operatives, 1950-2002
Appears in the following Collection
- Historie 
AbstractThe theme of this study is the divergent development of consumer co-operative organisations in Western Europe in the period from 1950 to 2002. Specifically, it explores the reasons why the British consumer co-operative movement throughout this period saw their market shares and membership decline steadily and substantially, while the consumer co-ops in Norway experienced a gradual strengthening of both market position and membership.
In the analysis, the uneven development of the two organisations is related to how they approached central transformative processes in the development of modern food retailing. The processes analysed are the emergence of new, large store formats, the increased prevalence of large retail chains and the increased questioning of the role and viability of consumer co-operation in late twentieth century food retailing.
The analysis shows how the Norwegian consumer co-operatives managed to confront these challenges while the British approach was much less successful. The reasons for these differences are many. They concerns differences in demographical and geographical preconditions for trade, differences in the competitive climate of the two country’s retail sectors, as well as internal differences such as differences in organisational culture and leadership, in organisational structure and in the two organisation’s overall political and ideological profile.
The development of the British and Norwegian consumer co-operatives is indicative of the general pattern of consumer co-operative development in post-war Europe. By systematically analysing the two organisation’s divergent development the study provides new and improved insights into the more general phenomenon of post-war success and decline among consumer co-operative organisations. Specifically the study shows the fruitfulness of analysing the historical development of these alternative forms of business organisation in close relation to the competitive and societal climate in which they actually operated.