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Title: The development and organisation of the Scottish co-operative movement
Author: Himeimy, Ibrahim A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1955
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The importance of the Co-operative Movement in Scotland as a channel of distribution cannot be overlooked. In this country about one fifth of the retail trade in consumer goods is passed to the consumer through Co- operative shops. Moreover, when it is l remembered that 36.9 per cent of the value of goods consumed by the public go to remunerate the middleman as distributor, it will be immediately realised how big a slice of our daily income is absorbed by the cost of distribution. This is composed mainly of wages, transport expenses, and profit to the entrepreneur distributor. Co- operative trading tends to eliminate the profit item, which is to be returned instead to the consumer in the form of dividend on purchases. According to statistics published by the Board of Trade there is, in Great Britain, a retail shop for every seventy of the population and a shopworker for every five families, whereas over 500 million pounds are paid annually to the three million persons who are connected in one way or another with the distributive 2 trades. We cannot at the present time disregard any practicable economies in the use of manpower as a factor in production, and the distributive trade may well offer a fruitful field for their application. In addition to its business function, the Co- operative Movement stands for certain social principles, for which its leaders claim at least equal importance. The Co- operative Movement, it has been said, aims at the voluntary democratic control of the operations of industry without the incentive of profit- making or the stimulus of pecuniary gain. It is, in other words, a way of life. Professor A.N. Shimmin once said that with the nine million members of the Co- operative Movement (in 1944) it follows that a considerable number of the homes in this country are linked in a common purpose. If this is so, and if this common purpose is both social and economic, then the Co- operative Movement must have a far greater influence on our daily life than is generally conceived. At present more than a quarter of the Scottish population 1 are members of the 196 Co- operative retail societies in Scotland. The Scottish societies have always gained first place among societies in all parts of Great Britain with regard to membership, trade, and the amount of dividend distributed. The proportion of Co- operative retail trade to the national retail trade is, 20.1 per cent for Scotland and only 12.0 per cent for the whole of 2 Great Britain. The average sales per member for 1951 were X90, ;30 in Scotland whereas they were only £60.75 for Great Britain. The amount of surplus (excluding share interest) was 9.49 per cent of the members ' purchases in Scotland and only 6.64 per cent of their purchases in Great Britain. Despite the magnitude of the Consumers'Co- operative Movement in this country, comprehensive reaearch in this field has been very limited. Interest in the subject was temporarily stimulated by the appearance of the "Consumers' Co- operative Movement" by Sidney and Beatrice Webb in 1921, but it was not until 1938 that another extensive report on the principles and practice of the Movement was issued by a group of University 1 Professors. Then Professor G.D.H. Cole made a contribution to Co- operative literature in 1944, to mark the centenary of the 2 Rochdale Pioneer t Store. In all these publications little prominence has been given tothe progress of the Movement in Scotland; nevertheless it undoubtedly merits greater care and attention than it has hitherto received. The Co- operative movement from among its own ranks has produced investigations on specific aspects of the Movement, outstanding among which is 3 J.A. Hough's "Co- operative Retailing 1918 -1945 ". The present study is an investigation of the development and organisation of the Co- operative Movement in Scotland with a view to ascertaining its present -day major problems, and an attempt to find possible solutions, bearing in mind the Movement's claim to a dual objective, social as well as economic. Co- operative enterprise in Scotland has developed overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, within the Consumers' Movement. This thesis will therefore be confined to the Consumers' Movement in Scotland from the retail and wholesale angles in the fields of both distribution and production. Reference will be made to other forms of Co- operative institutions, such as the producers' societies, but only in so far as they come in contact with the Consumers' Movement either in matters of principle or of practice. The Authorities consulted and sources drawn upon in preparing this thesis have been varied and representative as possible; the scattered information obtained from the works referred to above, and other contemporary publications are supplemented from the Co- operative Union's own literature, particularly its Annual Congress reports. Interviews with officials in the various Co- operative organisations as well as with trade union leaders have been very fruitful. In order to get as close a view as possible of the various problems facing the retail society, six retail Co- operative societies, fairly representative of the 196 Scottish societies were selected, and a case study was made of each. Wherever possible the records of these societies have been drawn upon. A similar method has been applied to the Scottish Co- operative Wholesale Society. The material presented in this thesis consists of three parts. Part One is an historical survey of the Movement as background to the subject. Part Two is an examination of the prevailing circumstances that shape the present structure of the Scottish Co-operative Movement with its relevant problems. Finally Part Three comprises a critical analysis of the outstanding problems of the Movement and attempts to find suitable solutions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available