Cooperatives in Post-transition Poland

 

Cooperative Housing Legacy 1991 to Present Day

From 1991- 2000, Global Communities, then known as CHF International, worked in post-transition Poland under funding from USAID, seeking to help cooperatives re-establish themselves as organizations capable of delivering housing and addressing some of the key housing issues in the newly forming market economy. After learning from a small pilot program, Global Communities began the Agency to Support Housing Initiatives (AWIM) training program which worked to expand the capacity of local facilitators to create cooperative housing. Small and run according to democratic principles, these new cooperatives were doing things differently, allowing members to participate in the decision processes and to adjust their desire for new homes to available spatial, organizational, and financial conditions. 

In 2017, we went back to conduct interviews with AWIM program participants to learn about the challenges, successes, and lasting impact of our programming in Poland. Read their stories and more here.

OCDC Pilot Cooperative Research Study 2017

Global Communities is participating in a Pilot Cooperative Research Study Poland through OCDC (Overseas Cooperative Development Council), with funding for cooperative research from USAID.

OCDC has decided to undertake a rigorous research study to document and describe the impact cooperatives have on the social and economic well-being of their members and in the lives of the communities in which they are located. OCDC hypothesizes that cooperative membership has a measurable beneficial impact in both these areas and that the principles that inform cooperative development are key determinants of beneficial impact which may be successfully applied across sectors and countries. The study hopes to generate evidence that will demonstrate their effectiveness in addressing issues of inequality and inequity.

The research will take place over several years (anticipated 2017-2020) in 4-5 geographically diverse countries with reasonably mature cooperative movements to enable trend analysis and comparisons. Poland will serve as a pilot for this study. The instruments will be developed by OCDC and tested in Poland. Analysis of results will provide findings for Poland and indicative findings for the study itself, enabling adjustment of methods for future country studies as appropriate. The study will use a mixed methods approach, gathering data through surveys, focus groups and key informant interviews.

Poland was chosen for the pilot program due to its complex history of deep transformations as part of political, economic, and social transition from centrally-managed, to market based economic system. These circumstances provide rich background material for study and highlight the durability and flexibility of cooperative methods over time and space.

Read more about the research study in this paper presented to the International cooperative Alliance (ICA)’s Committee on Cooperative Research in June 2017 entitled "Social, Economic and Community Benefits of Cooperatives Design and Progress Report: Pilot Study in Poland."