Member Value Proposition: A Guide for Co-operatives

Elizabeth C. Macknight (Editor), Maximiliano Lorenzi

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned Report

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While farmers’ co-ops in Scotland do a fantastic job on behalf of their members, they are also the first to admit that they are not so good at stating the co-operative’s ‘value proposition’and its contribution both to the viability of individual members’ farms and to the rural communities in which they trade. We wrestled with how to address this for a quite while until a meeting with Professor Tim Mazzarol of the University of Western Australia revealed that he had been working on the same need with a large agricultural co-op in Australia. His academic papers, which are credited in this guide, provided a thought framework that inspired our Knowledge Transfer Project and resulted in this guide.

Our intention was to make available a guide for use by directors and managers to research and compile their co-op’s Member Value Proposition either themselves or by calling on SAOS for expert assistance. The guide reasons the ‘business case’ for measuring and communicating a Member Value Proposition, and suggests how this can be done with reference to case study examples. One of the challenges in any co-op is that the published financial accounts do not reflect the performance of the co-op and its value to members. The measures differ from conventional companies, as the benefits are experienced on members’ farms, often accompanied by significant contributions directly and indirectly, to rural communities. The guide introduces measures and indicators to help identify the full contribution that co-ops make.

We are indebted to the Scottish Funding Council and InnovateUK for supporting the research and development work involved in compiling the guide. Dr Elizabeth Macknight of the University of Aberdeen made an essential contribution in all stages of the project.Her experience, advice and commitment were invaluable. Our KTP Associate Maximiliano Lorenzi quickly got to grips with what was required and always delivered impressive results on time. Our KTP advisers kept us focussed and disciplined and contributed from their wealth of experience. Finally, my colleague Stephen Young very effectively managed the project on behalf of SAOS and is committed to working with agricultural co-ops,wherever they may be, to produce Member Value Propositions that do full credit to their performance and role.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherScottish Agricultural Organisation Society
Commissioning bodyScottish Agricultural Organisation Society Limited
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9956414-0-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

I would like to thank the Scottish Founding Council, InnovateUK and SAOS for funding the KTP project. I deeply appreciate the support from KTP Adviser Jim Berryman. In the North of Scotland KTP Centre, Robin Brown gave excellent advice on the grant application and maintained an active interest in our progress. Sarah Stott and Jo-Anne Borthwick have handled the KTP administration with calm and efficiency. Special thanks to my academic and company supervisors, Elizabeth Macknight and Stephen Young, for their help, guidance and enthusiasm during the project. James Graham kindly contributed
the preface to this guide and has always believed in the value of our teamwork. For sharing insights on measuring value for members thanks go to managers and staff of the co-operatives Farm Stock, Tayforth and Scottish Borders Produce. I am also grateful to Hamish Walls for his constructive feedback on the text of this guide.


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