Empathic concern •Empathic concern goes beyond simply understanding others and sharing their feelings; it actually moves us to take action, to help however we can (https://www.inc.com)
Positive Empathy (and the avoidance of antipathy) can be taught! •The main roadblock to be removed is the distraction from paying attention. Motivate yourself to be more empathetic by knowing how important empathy is to personal (private and career) and collective well-being!
Emotional hypersensitivity •Emotional hypersensitivity does even sense covered negative emotions (Rozell, E., & Scroggins, W., 2010); Overdoses of negative feelings and pain of others may be a burden for anybody exposed to it (Young, E., 2016)
Misuse of empathy •Empathy can be for the good or the bad, e.g., not only for help, but for manipulation, bullying, and exert cruelty where it harms others most (Fairbairn, 2017)
Emotional contagion •Empathy for the physical and psychological suffering of others, can spread across a team. This is a relevant phenomenon for work places to address as it can cause depression and sickness. Some organizations, therefore, introduce stress-free zones (Young, E., 2016).
Social amplification of risk •Media plays a crucial role in reminding people of threats, coalition challenges, and feelings of uncertainty, which results in increases of the proclivity for prejudices against out-group members.
Empathic imagination •Imaginative empathy is one of the great gifts that humans have and it means that we can live more than one life. We can picture what it would be like from another perspective. – Dan ChaonCourse-3-Session-6-Developing-Cultural-Empathy_v02-compressed
- Strategic thinking involves SYSTEM THINKING, reframing (e.g., positive thinking), and reflection (e.g., evaluating one’s reasoning). Strategic thinking is best enabled in unforceful leadership communities and has positive effects on information seeking behavior (Pisapia, J., 2006)
- A system thinker (as compared to a linear thinker) is able to improve the performance of a whole by not only improving its parts but by enhancing the RELATIONSHIPS AMONG THE KEY PARTS systemwide.
- Often, solution approaches are rather reactive and focus on addressing symptoms rather than the underlying problems. CHANGES COMES AT THE LEVEL OF CULTURE, mindset, by regenerating MENTAL MODELS based on (self-) awareness.
- Be aware of the heuristics (“rules of thumbs”) in DECISION-MAKING STRATEGIES. For important decision, mental shortcuts may rely too heavily on limited (personally available) and representative (personal image) information.
- Although GLOBAL MOBILITY SURVEYS (BGRS, 2016) report the strategic importance of global mobility function for the competitive advantages of large organization, only 10% of the respondents answered that their company’s global mobility strategy is aligned with the broader talent agenda.
- Immersion into international assignments/expatriation may foster more deep LEARNING ABOUT THE ‘HOW’ AND ‘WHY’ of how foreign cultures on the otherwise invisible level work. This can be beneficial for individual career capital and talent retention.
- Different career trajectories (e.g., dual careers) require a more strategic ALIGNMENT OF LIFETIME STAGES AND CAREER STAGES that are integrated into the organization’s strategic direction.
- Cultural tightness (independent of nationality, culture, and legislation for gender equality), in some organizations in some countries, hinders ADVOCATING WOMEN LEADERSHIP (Toh, Leonardelli, 2013)
- REVERSE/BACKWARD MENTORING can help to bring together the younger generations’ digital talent and the older colleagues rich experience, while providing both a possibility to engage and develop (Claire, 2011).
- More PROFESSIONAL FREEDOM, MEANINGFUL WORK, and WORK-LIFE BALANCE tend to constitute job characteristics increasingly crucial as a high-level tendency across different cultures. The question remains how far these can be achieved in environments of fierce competition and profit requirements.
Thankful for another night being free to learn.
10 takeaways from the 80% is Psychology session ‘Learning and motivation’. Tokyo, November 7, 2018.
Presentation and discussions:
Definition of meaning
Although ‘meaning’ isn’t reducible to a state-like single factor , the meaning of a concept (i.e., work) is related to how an individual does experience the significance of a situation that causes related inferential intentions to behave in a certain way . While for many people the primary meaning of work lies in the earning of money for making a living, work provides also for values such as achievement, honor, and social relationships that determine how central the purpose of work is as compared to other life aspects like leisure, family, and community .
Economist and psychologist approach to work
The economist approach to work assumes a transactional exchange of time and effort for money. Non-financial job values have gotten limited attention by economists when examining work motivation and productivity. However, like for example, academics who have highest job security without the need to outperform, and who study beyond working hours without monetary incentives, are motivated by pure contribution to a subject, intellectual stimulation, and the satisfaction from a deliberate exchange of knowledge. Similarly, entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom of autonomous decision-making regardless of ‘pain’ put into it in the form of time and effort. Top talents have been found to prefer to work for social organizations rather than just for the best paying one .
Albeit the financialized political economy  ignores many aspects of work, such as its creative and interpersonal (social) value , the examples show that through psychological satisfaction, work can be a source of meaning beyond merely earning an income .
Cultural features of work meaning
Work creates culture, culture creates work
Culture as a guiding set of material, mental, and spiritual values that are based on a group’s experiences over time, creates meaning on how to behave and work  and, at the same time, its meaning itself is produced by work. Consequently, work should be considered a meaning-making construct of and within culture respectively as the producer and product of people’s mindset simultaneously . A culture, therefore, can be only as rich and meaningful as the work that produces it is itself.
In most Western cultures, there is today a less clear boundary between school and work life. In Japanese society though, there exists still a distinct point in time (usually beginning of April every year) that is marking the end of one’s student identity through entering the working world on full-time basis, which means to becoming a ‘shakaijin,’ i.e., a person of society/workforce . Companies use recruitment practices and regular personal assessment throughout an adult’s work life to socialize . Age-based reward and promotion systems also support this ongoing socialization process . More recently, the traditional path to adulthood and ‘companyism’ has become more diverse, and the increasing number of part-time workers and contractors is shaping a changing understanding of the transition to adulthood and work life, one that takes place rather through action than through the acquisition of the ‘shakaijin’ status .
Masculine breadwinner identity
Company respectively work-led socialization reinforces gender roles. The breadwinning role is a priority in masculine identity. After the earthquake in 2011, men’s concern in Fukushima was less related to health than to the loss of their economic situation . As in Japanese patriarchal culture, the father role is still primarily related to company job-related work, childcare duties are culturally assigned to solely to the female role (i.e., mother or grandmother), which provides a widespread potential for work-family conflicts. Shared family and work-related commitments, however, begin to be seen as essential to improve self-worthiness and a sense of meaningfulness in life . Men who don’t exhibit a regular full-time job are more likely to marry late. Also, males with non-standard jobs have the lowest chance of getting children, an effect that is prevalent in Japan, but not in the US, for example .
Given the importance of work as a provider of status, identity, and meaning, it is understandable that Japanese commit with a lot of grit to it . Over time, Japan’s values align more closely with global trends insofar as there is a great emphasis on the economic function of work as well . Will that be enough meaning to engage the next generations of employees as well? Research is showing that lack of meaning at work is reducing work volition and work-related well-being significantly .
Economy of dignity and respect
A further question is how much a collectivist society may be able to reduce the dependency on others and society overall because over-dependency on the meaning of work risks to hamper dignity. The individual capacity to understand and position oneself as a fully recognized societal participant is vital to the notion of dignity as sourced from within. It is to hope that companies and society, not only in Japan, help to create dignity by de-stigmatizing of traditional personhood markers such as employment type and gender roles . It’s maybe such a shift from status-focus to an action-focus orientation that also explains the changing meaning of ‘sonkei’ (Japanese for respect). Formal respect (e.g., towards age-based status) is increasingly recognized as a moral duty rather than an emotion built on genuine love and admiration .
Benefits from meaningful work
The benefit of employees perceiving their work as meaningful come as experiences of greater happiness, job satisfaction, team spirit, and commitment (; ), thus reducing turnover rates and long-term sickness absences. This is because of the positive emotional bondage to the workplace that is an end in itself; a characteristic also called intrinsic motivation . A greater sense of meaning in one’s work can be protective of burnout . Eudaimonia is a term describing the sort of well-being that comes from living an engaging, meaningful, and fulfilling life . Such a spirit at the workplace can be fostered by letting employees feel they contribute to something more significant in connection to a common connection and purpose .
Performance and physical health
Work meaning is also closely linked to better outcomes, such as increased income, quality of work, and job satisfaction . Finally, a sense of purpose and sense of socially embedded growth in and from work (i.e., eudaimonic, meaning-based well-being versus hedonic, pleasure-based job-satisfaction ) was found to be associated with positive health outcomes, for example, by the means of supporting one’s physical resistance against adversities like inflammation or viral infection . The Japanese type of stress-death, the so-called ‘karoushi’ (death from overwork) cannot be seen as a physiological phenomenon only. Rather death is caused by a vicious cycle of depressive feelings, and states of helplessness and unescapable despair combined with overwork .
Fostering meaning at work
A culture of mentorship and nostalgia
For a long time, job satisfaction research has been focused on an organizational perspective without sufficiently considering the role of the job on family, the standard of living, personal development, and on a worker’s larger worldview . It is crucial to understand better situational contexts in which meaning ensues. Researchers found that the highest levels of meaning arise during spiritual practices and work hours, especially when performing social job components such as talking to people. As a general pattern, meaning occurs most during states of increased awareness . An organizational listening climate may facilitate such an awareness , and acting as a self-reflective mentor might be a useful avenue of experiencing meaning at work . Indeed, studies among nursing practices from different countries (e.g., Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, and Korea) confirm that leaders and a culture of mentorship are important for fostering meaning of work for both mentors and the mentees . Also, the induction of nostalgia (i.e., remembering sentimental events from the past) can be used to meet employees longing for wistful affection to the past and may increase an employee’s perception of the meaningfulness of his/her organizational life and therefore the attachment to it .
The need for humanizing the economy
The hope that unfulfilling, unsatisfying, and even health and life-threatening mental stress at work will improve may be overshadowed by the continuing centrality of profit margins and efficiency in corporations. Neo-liberal development in Japan has shaken the traditions of secure long-term employment and a state responsible for citizens welfare. While the need for meaning at the workplace implies rather a humanization of the economy and society, capitalist marketization of everything is continuing. Corporate managers continue to exploit deregulated labor and capital and maintain insecurity and growing competition among workers. . While rhetoric is sometimes trying to convince otherwise, understandably in the light of how grim the reality reveals, capitalism’s ultimate sense is about capital rather than humanity. In case of conflict, business goals come before anything else. Regardless of how meaningful employees perceive their job, no CEO is considered unsuccessful when driving profits within legal constraints and without caring especially about humanistically meaningful jobs. It’s, therefore, as an example, a non-surprising and common observation that such managers only after their retirement turn to a more dedicated anthropological role of contributing to society.
Meaning determines moral and ethical intentions and behavior
It seems that people need to find answers from within because the treadmill of the pursuit of consumption, pleasure, and economic success from work won’t fulfill the potential of greater meaning at work in many cases, regardless of how comfortable or tough the circumstances. It is each and everyone’s responsibility to fill the void of meaning through their sacred awareness, philosophy, and artful approach to put it into practice. And it is critical that we help others to do so too. The meaning of work should be considered simultaneously from an individual, organizational, and societal perspective, considering its psychological function for everyone. Meaning is the basis on which intentions ensue and according actions follow . Consequently, claiming peaceful fulfillment in one’s work is an essential part of and prerequisite for moral and ethical behavior towards oneself and others alike.
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Thanks to all PC(J) friends and Nithin from Shareable!
- Matching national and organizational cultures
- Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal levels
- The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’
- Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism
Matching national and organizational culture
According to Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998), social capital is “the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from relationships” (as cited in ). However, it is not enough to design global leadership development programs with the goal to share knowledge according to national cultures in multinational enterprises (MNEs) without carefully making sure that the program also matches the organizational cultures involved (Espedal, Gooderham, & Stensaker, 2013).
Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal level
How the built social capital is prized depends on context. For example, Singaporean bureaucratic and political elite prizes social and cultural capital from the US, UK, and Western Europe highly as a result of Singapore’s unique history . In academia, it is known that the apt use of researchers’ social capital in the form of international research networks helps significantly in achieving excellence . On the other hand, global mobility experiences that come with a personal value such as new perspectives and knowledge about different cultures and systems can be not valuated as social or cultural capital by the home environment and therefore doesn’t get utilized by the respective institutions and organization . There can be even biases on individual, organizational, and societal level because of strong interpersonal and intergroup processes preventing non-discriminatory perceptions of the intercultural aspects they are confronted with .
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’ describes the behavior of individuals who aspire to grow their professional global connectivity but remain emotionally relatively uninvolved locally . In the case of expatriates, they can be conflicted between resistance and acceptance of the new culture as part of incorporation its possibilities within themselves . For people from collectivist cultures, the loss of their societal embeddedness might not be felt as compensated  by the newly gained increase of social capital from a global perspective. Money can replace social capital in the sense that knowledge transactions can be bought anywhere (e.g., banking, legal, and medical services, etc.), independent of location .
Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism
Social capital networks reinforce themselves  and education, financial means, and access to information and communication technology determine to what level talent can be optimized  . To get access to global social capital, globalized forms of education to foster global citizenship is recommended by the UN . Often international assignments don’t necessarily lead to returns home and can result in onward mobility and international careers within a community, which shares a culture of global nomadism  that is of horizontal multi-cultural nature . The alignment of an individual’s lifetime stages and an organization’s strategic direction can be helped through a mentoring, mutual help in storying and career/goal alignment that is managed by a well-integrated Talent and HR Management practice .
 Scullion, H., & Collings, D. G. (Eds.). (2011). Global talent management. Abington, UK: Routledge.
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 Sidhu, R., Yeoh, B., & Chang, S. (2015). A Situated Analysis of Global Knowledge Networks: Capital Accumulation Strategies of Transnationally Mobile Scientists in Singapore. Higher Education: The International Journal Of Higher Education And Educational Planning, 69(1), 79-101.
 Jacob, M., & Meek, V. L. (2013). Scientific Mobility and International Research Networks: Trends and Policy Tools for Promoting Research Excellence and Capacity Building. Studies In Higher Education, 38(3), 331-344.
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 Minina, A. (2015). Home is Where the Money is: Financial Consumption in Global Mobility. Advances In Consumer Research, 43393-398.
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 Gardner-McTaggart, A. (2016). International Elite, or Global Citizens? Equity, Distinction and Power: The International Baccalaureate and the Rise of the South. Globalisation, Societies And Education, 14(1), 1-29.
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Summary. The increasing number of expatriates reflects the need for multinational enterprises (MNEs) to compete in a global knowledge economy. Despite high pressure, mobility program cost management practices are often weakly formalized. To take full advantage of international assignments, the assignees’ gained knowledge should be matched with required job competencies. The ratio of parent-country nationals (PCNs) at subsidiaries is influencing business performance. Also, besides defensive and retaliatory actions, relational measures can be used to maintain access to social capital in case of poaching in the host country. Finally, intercultural training based on clearly defined goals for business and leadership development purposes can increase the success rate of international assignment significantly.
Over 200 million extra-national employees worldwide
The number of employees assigned to foreign countries in 2013 was 214 million people, tendency increasing . This article focuses in places on a multinational enterprises (MNEs) setting of interdisciplinary digital businesses from a Japan perspective (with global reach) that is heavily relying on knowledge and relationship-based intangible data assets.
Room to evolve in aligning the role of mobility with talent management
The information technology industry continues to be a growing sector with fierce competition and cost pressures . While almost half of IT companies do not systematically measure international assignment costs, companies respond sensitively to cost factors. For example, as a reaction to surging residence costs for expatriates, Japanese companies in 2014 sent 10,000 employees less to China than still in 2012 when the number was at 57,000 . Also, an international assignee attrition rate that could be problematic for a company when too high seems to exist in the IT sector, with survey results reporting a 25% of assignee loss as compared to overall survey respondents’ average of 14%. Generally, assignee’s increase market value serves as an explanation for their moving on to better career opportunities outside of the firm. The Japanese tenure- rather than market-value-based employment system  could mitigate that risk though. On the other hand, some Japanese expats may not return due to concerns with too much discriminating, rigorous, and long working hours required in the Japanese working world, as a popular Japanese blog suggests . In any case, to mutually benefit from mobility programs, both the employee and the firm should be able to count on HR’s ability to match the expatriate’s knowledge with job’s required competencies . Furuya (2007) suggested the deliberate and proactive use of appropriate HR policies and practices (e.g., job analysis) that help realize the advantages of global assignments . Indeed, successful mobility has become a barrier for Japanese MNEs; yet formal programs are rarely in place .
One out of five Global Mobility Trends IT sector survey participants responded that they do not know their business need for internationally experienced talents . Not enough parent country nationals (PCNs) at subsidiaries is curbing business performance; too many PCNs, however, let performance decline due to increasing resistance against loss of local identity . The APAC region’s (IT) companies see Brazil and second, Taiwan as their favorite destinations for foreign assignments beyond 2015 . From a host country’s perspective, e.g., Taiwanese firms seek Japanese employees’ knowledge  and increasingly poach Japanese workers . For MNEs, relational actions such as alumni to keep access to human social capital might be an additional alternative to overly defensive or punitive measures .
Need for intercultural training
20% of international assignees reported difficulties in acclimating to the new culture. Also, people from strong cultures like China and Japan tend to stick with their compatriots . Therefore, intercultural training  and/or timely termination (in case of issues) of expatriate projects are crucial to avoid relational damage . Also, separate but integral goals and strategies for business and talent development should be defined in Japanese MNEs mobility programs . Sufficient language proficiency has to be fostered too to enable an efficient knowledge transfer .
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- The case for gender egalitarianism
- Prestige economies and cultural tightness
- Functional literacy and inclusiveness
- Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
- Humanitarian principles and global egalitarian mindset
The case for gender equality
Although women represent half of the population in education and global workforce at career start and mid-level management, men outnumber women in all sectors’ leadership positions. The role of female talents in future leadership is a critical challenge  for the growth of economies . A study among a big sample across 26 countries found that work-life balance, commitment, and turnover thoughts are related to perceived job autonomy that is, for women, mediated by present gender egalitarianism .
Prestige economies and cultural tightness
Prestige governs economies, causing countries with high expenditure in research and development to have comparatively fewer female members (e.g., Japan with 11.6% female researchers, and only 9.7% professors), while low-expenditure nations (e.g., the Philippines and Thailand employ female researchers beyond 45%) . To stay with the example of Japan, nations with similar challenges related to vocational stereotypes, job availability constraints, traditional bias and a collective mindset, even when not having as much government promotion of female employment as Japan, tend to have fewer women in corporate executive positions. Roibu and Roibu (2017) ascribe this to the strictness of how social and work rules are enforced . Indeed, cultural tightness, i.e., the fierceness of norms, contributes to explaining why some organizations in some countries are less successful in advocating women leadership than others . However, the finding of male domination in higher leadership positions seems to be more generally a phenomenon somewhat independent of nationality, culture, and even legislation for gender equality .
Functional literacy and inclusiveness
Fast technological change can negatively pronounce skill deterioration during work interruption, such as caused by maternity leave . Also, education needs to be carefully analyzed regarding whether it is suited to improve social inclusion or whether, in contrast, aggravates competitive exclusivity . For example, functional literacy programs shouldn’t be designed as a reading and writing capability only, but as emancipatory enablers that integrate reading, writing, and socio-economic and political understanding for democratic participation and the self-efficient creation of social networks and wealth .
Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
Some woman may be more sold on power-promising, rewarding, and recognizing careers  and learn how to play the neo-liberal corporate game. Many, on the other hand, do also keep a philanthropic attitude that might not be come to success in an economy that rewards competition . Leadership styles are evolving though, and the value of emotional intelligence is bringing female leaders, albeit slowly, into pole positions . Strength-based approaches to talent development can help also preserving gender-specific genuineness throughout personal careers .
Humanitarian principles and global “female” mindset
The human species can change its mindset, and a female leadership style based on humanitarian principles might be precisely the fit for an increasingly globalized and cooperating world . Millennial women are expected to have a high interest to play a global role . Already existing transnational women’s movements  may additionally help to boost self-esteem to create more egalitarian local and global environments.
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Summary. This article critically sheds light on current socio-economic challenges for Japan and the need for developing a global mindset for companies in a globalizing world. With little chance for getting a management position before the age of 40 and confronted with dominating domestic demand for a monolingual male workforce, Japan’s youth gets blamed for being ‘insular’ and individually responsible for the lack of global mindsets. To improve global success, Japanese HR practices’ global talent management programs have to address the need for highly skilled and globally minded talents in Japan and their expatriates. Japan-specific, step-by-step, and creative alternative solutions may be required to make it happen.
Japan’s current unclear development of its role in global economy comes from various challenges such as two decades lasting economic stagnation  and increased competition from China and India . Salary men sweat devotedly for the big companies and government agencies for the return of stable careers, while their wives take care of raising the next generation guaranteeing the continuation of the system that has become antithetical to fast-paced global changes . A global mindset is needed for many Japanese organization, and there are calls for a related shift in education (; ). However, most Japanese companies favor domestic monolingual male workforce , which informs higher education in the way that fewer and fewer students in Japan envision to study abroad . The collectivist Japanese culture might emphasize that trend as the unity of family raises expectations for children not to stay away from their family and take care of their parents .
Japanese see the development of a global mindset as an individual rather than an organizational burden. Due to seniority-based promotion systems, only 9% of Japanese managers are below the age of 40, compared to 62% in India and 76% in China . Ironically, the lack of talents with global mindsets has not been associated with strict hiring practices, bigoted immigration policies, or with conservative firm cultures but instead the ‘insular’ young people, the so-called ‘uchimuki,’ are blamed for keeping the island inwardly retreated .
Japanese HRM practices’ global talent management initiatives have been reported to not being suitable to attract sufficient talent with a global mindset for multinational enterprises . English in Japan is still treated as belonging to the US or UK rather than being a global language . HR brokers until today have mostly focused on low-skilled short-term immigration . Therefore, not surprisingly, Japan ranks last behind all major industrialized nations regarding the percentage of foreign academics and engineers employed .
A trend of an increasing number of Japanese self-initiated expatriate entrepreneurs to developing countries in Asia indicates the presence of not only entrepreneurial but also global mindsets as related to social and sustainability missions . Japanese multinationals, however, comparatively have difficulties to go international with their often highly successful local businesses in which the home-country expatriates obviously need to re-assess their globalization abilities . For example, Japanese business men are used to relationship-based marketing  and would need to adapt to a more need-based style when selling abroad . Maybe hybrid forms of globalization activities, developed through Japan-based HR training can advance the integration of cultural differences to promote global success . Anti-globalization sentiments after the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima in 2011 and perceptions of unfairly exploitative global businesses may require an alternative kind of globalization as happening in the arts that, e.g., builds on alternative smaller destinations . Step-by-step quick wins could increase confidence in more long-term investment into global mindsets to improve results from globalization .
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1. The role of job analysis in Global Talent Management
2. Japanese tendencies and the focus on people vs. positions
3. Towards systematic talent identification
1. The role of job analysis in Global Talent Management
The identification of talent is a central aspect of Global Talent Management (GTM) practices in multinational enterprises (MNE’s) . Job analysis respectively competency analysis constitutes a required input for talent identification . However, traditional job analysis that has represented a fundamental necessity for many HR activities seems to have become increasingly outdated . Indeed, the number of current articles about job analysis is decreasing, while, in contrast, related fields such as competency modeling and work analysis describing more broadly and evolving organizational roles are trending . The relative popularity of competency models may be explained by its alignment with organizational strategy and related performance goals .
The diminishing relevance of the use of job analysis results such as job descriptions, may come from the shift towards recruitment strategies that are led not by vacancies but rather by onboarding talents to be able to fill strategic roles when they arise. Therefore, rather than looking at existing job tasks, companies strategically may look, especially concerning their leadership competency profiles, for visionary talents who are well connected, cross-culturally skilled, and whose values match well with the firm culture .
Another essential consideration in evaluating the utility of job analysis in Talent Management is the level of detail that is elaborated to describe job requirements. While more holistic approaches result in more generic and abstract information convince through their cost-efficiency, the gathering of more detailed data is supporting the judgment process of what specifics contribute to the overall ratings of importance . Researchers argue that the psychometric quality of competency models decline when judgments are based on broad job descriptions .
2. Japanese tendencies and the focus on people vs. positions
Japanese talent acquisition practices are strongly shaped by domestic approaches , which the interview results of this study also confirm. The identification of skills, abilities, knowledge and other characteristics (KSAOs) informs talents identification. Although methods such as, e.g., job analysis  focusing on jobs as a starting point for Talent Management are a promoted view , Japanese (multinational) companies tend to work the other way around, i.e., starting with people and then figuring out where to go with the workforce.
The concept of lifetime employment is still alive in Japan. When keeping people is an overarching goal of an organization, job descriptions, and missing job descriptions respectively would limit maneuvering room. Line managers’ expectation rather than job requirement and talent assessment documentation is determining who’s considered to be a talent suitable for what position. This relational focus on work, however, is an important aspect of complex job roles in general and everywhere . However, a tendency towards influencing employee behavior subjectively from manager’s perspective versus a more objective reliance on job descriptions  was identified a specific feature of Japanese talent management.
While modern talent approaches may shift from input to a more output-oriented view , past achievements (e.g., education and type of university), as well as seniority, are decisive for the employee payments and promotions . On the other side, HR positions often get occupied by staff who is rotated, even against their will. The interview repeatedly pointed to the need for more education to address the lack of HR and talent management capabilities as measured against good global practices and evidenced anecdotic by especially young talents who seem to expect more consideration for their career aspirations. As for job analysis, inexperience, in contrast to carelessness, would not necessarily have to result in low quality judgments though .
3. Towards systematic talent identification
Job analysis can uncover needs for improvement in work environments  and have positive effects on talent management, such as objective and talent-focusing development. Improper job descriptions leaving employees unclear about their duties and competencies can also lead to legal issues . As, for example, Hitachi demonstrated, the implementation of systematic talent identification and evaluation can improve multinational operations . Albeit talent selection by fixed job characteristics might have become an insufficient method , the usage of some work profiles to create good matches between individuals and jobs would be advantageous for staff and organizations alike . A better (psychological) understanding of strategic jobs from an organization’s HR perspective would for sure help underline the importance of talent management  in achieving the increasingly complex and global organizational goals.
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See also the embedded clip. As we concluded … Let’s cooperate! 🙂
When presenting Platform Cooperativism as a fairer user-/worker-owned model of running online platforms, I often hear answers like “that’s a great idea, but it’s too difficult to realize.” However, technology to implement the co-operative digital economy is emerging. Solutions become available to sustainably crowd-source, share value, and govern democratically. Hexalina.io is one such example.
(from hexalina.io website)
It is now generally admitted that income inequality is one of the biggest problems of our world and a peril to the fabric of our society.
A few years ago, the rise of the “sharing economy” gave great hopes to change this: soon everybody would be self-employed, and benefit from the new opportunities unlocked by the internet, technology and platforms.
Industry adaption of Platform Cooperativism is the goal of the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium. Although awareness and motivation for the co-operative way is crucial, if there is no easy way to act upon, good intentions don’t get realized. That’s where technology solutions come into play.
The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.
Connect with us:
The percentage of employees employed by small and medium enterprises (SME’s) decreased from 80% to 70% in the last 20 years. Issues regarding the ownership succession of businesses are essential in the light of an aging society and the need for sustainable socio-economic development. The SME Cooperative Act of 1949 is for small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The creation of a worker co-operative law would allow the further formalization of the opportunity of business conversions into worker cooperatives in any business sector. Business successions to employees would create a fairer economy where the trinity of ownership (investors), management (managers), and value creation/utilization (workers, users) is balanced for the benefits of its active membership.
Number of SME’s in Japan has fallen by 1 million during the last 20 years
It would be great if we could already discuss co-operative ownership succession of large organizations. However, I’m not aware of a “buy-twitter-initiative” in Japan so far. So, the more immediate opportunity for Platform Cooperativism may lie with small and medium businesses. Over the past 20 years, the number of SMEs in Japan has fallen by about 1 million and the number of SME employees decreased from 80% to 70% percent of overall employment (White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan 2016). I am not sure how much the demographic challenges of the aging society would be the cause of such a decline in the digital sector especially, as increasing eliminatory market dominance of the big corporations is an inherent feature of many digital platforms.
Opportunity for ownership succession to employees
I experience that Japanese observers are regretting the disappearing of SME’s due to a lack of successful succession management. A similar issue represents the continuing rural exodus. There is mentioning of that when the business successions among SMEs are becoming issues, business successions to non-family persons, such as employees, are increasing (Kubota, 2010). So, I feel there are lots of opportunities to promote the co-operative way, although the predominant family business succession models are to the family or third parties other than employees and are separating ownership and management. Japan is currently still one of the few developed countries without a worker coop law, which is certainly not helpful.
For example, in agriculture, the succession and inheritance aspect is (globally) less researched because there is a view that family farming is heading towards extinction anyway. However, as still many farms are owned and managed by families, there may be renewed interest in intergenerational and intra- and inter-family cooperative solutions such as worker co-operatives.
Japanese business cooperation
Japanese small businesses are typically strongly cooperating and sub-contracting between companies, also for the rehabilitation of (struggling) small enterprises. There is a system of Small and Medium Enterprise Cooperatives based on the SME Cooperative Act from 1949, facilitating small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The joint business cooperatives are, e.g., joint store associations, chain business associations, joint investing companies and voluntary groups.
The Japanese business system, also described as “co-opetition”, a mix of severe competition and collectivist Japanese culture, may be a fertile ground for #platformcoopjp. On the other hand, tendencies of specializing employees to contribute to a collective raise the question of how easily employees can assume initiative and more active (intrapreneurship) roles in case of becoming part of an employee-owned/managed organization.
The Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium is continuing to collaborate and research for the exploration of opportunities in applying co-operative (platform) solutions to business successions and share the lessons learned also outside of Japan.
For an overview of Japanese socio-economic situation and the #co-operative landscape, please see the following articles (https://www.mathias-sager.com/2017/10/19/cooperatives-in-japan-article-series-overview/)
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (2016). White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan 2016. The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency
Kubota, N. (2010). 非親族承継における所有と経営の分離. 日本経営診断学会論集, 9145-151. doi:10.11287/jmda.9.145
The king has, in the struggle of defending his crown, given the virtual land to the landlords. Now the peasants pay the tolls to the privileged class who rules the online territory for the maximization of its own financial profits and influence. How will the insurgency look like? Time for (re-) new(-ed) alliances for effective and hopefully non-violent rebellion.
Part of the solution:
Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) connects key stakeholders of the emerging platform economy ecosystem to create synergies in the pursuit of increased shared value, ownership, and governance. The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.
Inspiration from the History of Switzerland:
The Old Swiss Confederacy began as a late medieval alliance between the communities of the valleys in the Central Alps, at the time part of the Holy Roman Empire, to facilitate the management of common interests such as free trade and to ensure the peace along the important trade routes through the mountains. With the rise of the Habsburg dynasty, the kings and dukes of Habsburg sought to extend their influence over this region and to bring it under their rule. The foreign landlords collected tolls from bridges. Anti-Habsburg insurgences sprung up, but were quashed quickly. This time of turmoil prompted the Waldstätten to cooperate more closely, trying to preserve or regain their Reichsfreiheit. On August 1, 1291, an Everlasting League was made between the Forest Communities for mutual defense against a common enemy. The three founding cantons of the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, as the confederacy was called, managed to defeat Habsburg armies on several occasion, and ensured a de facto independence from the empire. The Freibrief, or freedom charter, to “the people of the valleys,” recognized and formalized in law the independence from the Habsburg that they had gradually won in fact.
Overview and Conclusion article for Part 1 – Part 4, please see here.
In this article, several Japanese co-operatives of different types and from various sectors are briefly introduced. The goal is not to create a directory in the sense of a comprehensive list, but rather to distill essential characteristics of the co-operative sector and the solidarity economy in Japan. The facts presented in this article need to be understood in the context of the specific Japanese conditions and challenges as documented in Part 1, cooperative advantages as shown in Part 2, and the laws and customs applicable to the social economy in Japan as depicted in Part 3 of this article series.
Overview of Cooperatives in Japan
Infographic 1. Overview of Cooperatives in Japan (1/2) 
Infographic 1. Overview of Cooperatives in Japan (2/2) 
Examples of Japanese Cooperatives
The examples chosen for the second part of this article do not represent a complete picture of the cooperatives in Japan. The selection, however, provides the opportunity to illustrate important characteristics of the cooperative economy in Japan across different types and various industry sectors in which co-operatives are operating. A focus is put on worker cooperatives as particularly relevant for digital businesses in the sharing economy (for further details, please see LINK Platform Cooperativism)
Table 1. Co-op examples by type
|General||Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)|
|Consumer||Japan Consumer’s Cooperatives Union (Nisseikyo)|
Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union
|Worker||Women’s Worker Cooperative (WWC)|
Japan Worker’s Cooperative Union (JWCU)
Japanese Institute of Co-operative Research (JICR)
Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union’s Depot’s run by workers’ collective
Independent worker cooperatives
|NPOs managed by workers’ collectives||Atsugi Human Support Network|
Table 2. Co-op examples by industry sector
|Agriculture||National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (ZEN-NOH)|
Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (Nokyo)
Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JAC, JAs)
|Finance||Agricultural Cooperatives Credit Division (incl. the Central Agriculture Bank)|
Mutual aid co-ops
The women and citizens’ community bank
Eitai Credit Union
Green Coop Fukuoka
|Health, Care||JWCU Home Helper Training Centers|
Senior Co-operative (Koreikyo)
Ayumi Care Service
Fukuoka Elderly Person’s Co-op (EPC)
Enjoy Sports Club Uonuma
|Transport||Workers cooperative taxi cab business in Fukuoka|
|Electronics R&D||Association of Super-advanced Electronic Technology (ASET)|
In general, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is an overarching organization that is collaborating with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan, for example for research related to cooperation and co-operatives .
Co-op Examples by Type
The figures of the largest consumer cooperative in Japan are impressive with its 60 million members (of which the majority are women), it’s JPY 1 trillion (USD 10 billion) capital and annual sales of JPY 3 trillion (USD 30 billion) in 2,668 shops across all prefectures in the country. Because of lower prices, the organization is even importing vegetables and processed food. Because Nisseikyo’s members do not have a voice in the leadership of the company, it can’t be counted as being part of the real solidarity economy organization . One of the exceptions among Japanese co-ops that can be seen to genuinely belonging to the solidarity economy is the Seikatsu Club Consumer’s Co-operative Union as presented next .
The Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union is only a small part of Nisseikyo but has still 310,000 members in 29 co-ops across 19 prefectures. The Seikatsu Co-op won the Right Livelihood Award in 1989 .
Although worker-owned businesses have increased in number and size, only 30,000 workers are working cooperatively in whole Japan, with a concentration in the urban centers Kanto and Kansai. The growth since the 1970s is prolonged and small, compared to the overall working population  that is today around 76 million people. One problem that needs to be addressed is that there is no proper legislation for worker co-operatives in Japan  as detailed in Part 3 of this article series. Furthermore, the social movement may be not very well unified and orchestrated as some worker-owned organizations prefer the term ‘collective’ over ‘cooperative’ to emphasize the sovereignty of the individual . It is though not only Japan struggling to grow the worker co-op movement. It is estimated that in the US around 350 worker cooperatives employ just 5,000 people .
If the cooperative worker movement doesn’t gain traction soon, it will, despite its proven potential, always stay marginal and irrelevant. Respectively it will be too late to solve the economic, social, and environmental issues resulting from cheap labor, inequality, and undemocratic practices by shareholder profit maximization that are aggravating from a global perspective.
Women’s Worker Cooperative (WWC)
The Women’s Worker Cooperatives with its 12,000 worker members accounts for the largest single group of organizations in the Japanese worker cooperative landscape. These WWC cooperatives allow the housewives to work part-time and therefore solve existing labor market constraints, tax issues, and equal employment opportunities, although they mostly don’t need the additional salary for a sufficient overall household income, albeit they are contributing significantly to the new middle-class lifestyle. The success of the WWC and the target women it helps to find suitable work indicates a huge potential of hundreds of thousands of Japanese women who might welcome such opportunities as well .
After the WWC, the Japan Worker’s Cooperative Union (JWCU) represents with 9,000 members in 2005 the second largest account of worker cooperatives. The union innovatively remodeled itself into a business owned and democratically run by its workers who are provided with work contracts with an array of other organizations. “What had once been a labor union of the unemployed had been gradually transformed into a business owned and managed by its members as a worker’s cooperative [4, p. 7]”. The JWCU provides work crews into consumer co-op distribution centers, hospitals, and park cleaning and maintenance businesses. It has also expanded into more capital and knowledge-intensive industries such as home helper training centers and construction cooperatives . Further examples are a high-school cooperative, a shoemaking collective, a bakery, and a theatrical company, etc. .
The JWCU publishes a newspaper ‘Rokyo Shimbun’ (Workers’ Co-op Newspaper) that is issued three times a month, and a bi-monthly magazine ‘Shigoto no Hakken’ (Discovery of Work), both of wich are promoting the worker co-ops activities in Japan and abroad . The JWCU is pushing since years the agenda for adding a distinct worker-owned legal form to the currently available forms of personal ownership, partnership, and limited liability joint stock corporation. Hopefully, joint effort together with the WWC will make a new law possible. What would still be missing then is the mobilization of the young people who are currently underrepresented in the JWCU’s membership .
The Japanese Institute of Co-operative Research (JICR) was founded in 1991 by the JWCU. It serves as the central national and international research organization for its member activists and worker cooperatives. The Institute’s monthly journal ‘Kyodo no Hakken’ (The Discovery of Cooperation’ promotes worker cooperatives and their benefits for workers’ rights and communities’ thriving, including news from around the globe, with a traditional focus also on the European worker cooperative movement .
Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union’s Depot’s run by workers’ collective
The Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Cooperative contains various smaller groups like the ‘depots,’ which are run by members who organize as workers’ collectives built on democratic decision-making processes. The depots, therefore, constitute worker cooperatives within the broader Seikatsu consumer co-op. Such workers’ collectives’ membership basis is increasing fast .
The Fukushi Club is another group of workers under the umbrella of the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Cooperative. In the Fukushi Club’s case, women who provide care organize as cooperative organizations to institutionalize the ‘shadow work’ and empower both the care receivers and providers .
Independent worker cooperatives
There are also some independently established Japanese worker cooperatives, such as the Paramount Shoe Company that was rebuilt through its union after a business failure. EcoTech that span off from the Toshiba conglomerate is another example of employee union initiated democratic worker cooperative .
NPOs managed by workers’ collectives
Atsugi Human Support Network
Only after 1998 citizens’ organizations could become legal entities through the NPO Promotion Law that started to encourage volunteering work for vulnerable people without tangible support though. Member housewives of the Seikatsu Club Consumer’s Cooperative in Atsugi city (Kanagawa prefecture) wanted to initiate a ‘local party’ to organize for local elections. The Atsugi Human Support Network became an alliance of 22 NPOs that are managed by workers’ collectives .
Co-op Examples by Industry Sector
The National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JAC ZEN-NOH) with its 3 million national farm household members and the 12,500 employees is the world’s largest co-op organization . It represents the top of the pyramid of the agricultural cooperatives organized on local, prefectural, and national level . The JAC Zennoh is in charge of sales activities on the national level for its farmer’s co-operatives (JAC) members .
The farmer’s co-operatives (JAC) are organized under the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JAC Zenchu, Nokyo). The central union, as well as the farming co-operatives, don’t give voting rights to their individual members to participate in the leadership of the organization, which is organized like a corporation . The JAC Zenchu is in charge of planning on national level for its JAC members .
Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JAC, in short, the JAs)
It has to be differentiated between traditional village farming cooperatives, farmers’ groups organized as “cooperative farming groups,” and the members of the national entities JAC Zennoh and JAC Zenchu, which are the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JAs).
Agricultural Cooperatives Credit Division (incl. the Central Agriculture Bank)
The Agricultural Cooperatives Credit Division including the Central Agriculture Bank with the related prefectural credit unions providing mutual credit and insurance services are one of the most profitable operations of the Japanese agricultural cooperatives. Their members are farming-related organizations and non-farming individuals residing in cooperative communities .
Mutual aid cooperatives
The mutual aid cooperatives are organized into the national ‘Zenrosai’ federation and count 46,340 units. Although they use the terms mutual aid and cooperatives, they are not adhering to member voting rights and therefore instead have to be affiliated with commercial banks than with the solidarity economy .
The women and citizens’ community bank
These organizations are operated by women providing services exclusively for women, i.e., providing loans to according NPOs. In Japan, there is no legal status for non-profit citizen banks as this was so far not supported by governments, why the women and citizens’ community bank operates under a normal moneylender license . However, problems in the commercial banking sector have increased the interest in the possibility to establish non-profit banks. There are now Shinkin (small and big loans) and Shinkumi (small loans) banks who provide services to citizens and SMEs , able to revitalize deprived communities , and which are of considerable importance in the Japanese financial market .
Eitai Credit Union
It is necessary to facilitate inter-cooperative mutual financial aid for developing the social economy. The Etai Credit Union in Tokyo is such an institution providing loans to cooperatives and collectives in consultation with NPOs .
Green Coop Fukuoka
Green Coop Fukuoka lends money to both member and non-member indigent people by using assets from members. The government of the prefecture Fukuoka is considering the initiative as crucial to develop financing of an inclusive society .
The government has encouraged co-operatives to provide welfare services as a business because they saw the rural and urban potential that could be unlocked from female care workers in the co-op memberships. Today, co-operatives make for about 1% of elderly care services provided under the Act for Long-term Care Insurance LTCI .
JWCU Home Helper Training Centers
Care for the elderly involves help at home. For the training of home helpers, the JWCU offers licensing programs that allow the certified home helpers afterward to reimburse their services through the national homecare insurance program .
In association with the Japan Communist Party, there exist member physician-run hospitals. These are the hospitals that were mentioned before as where JWCU worker co-operatives provide their hospital services such as cleaning, shop management, and office staffing .
Senior Co-operative (Koreikyo)
As of 2006 each of the Japanese prefectures had opened a Senior Co-operative (Koreikyo) chapter totaling in over 100,000 members nationwide with high growth expectations. The co-operative is, as the name is telling, by and for the elderly, supporting them to stay at home as long as possible and wished through education and home care .
Ayumi Care Service
In response to a shrinking and aging population, a 40-year-old woman set up a care business in her town in 2000. Ayumi Care Service today has 35 full-time workers, most of them member-owners who invested the equivalent of USD 500 as share capital and earn a monthly salary of around USD 1,700. Ayumi Care Services accepts any service requests, therefore being often caring about lonely elderly with no relatives and even taking care of difficult death situations .
Fukuoka Elderly Person’s Co-op (EPC)
Grown out of the JWCU workers’ co-operative movement, the Elderly Person’s Co-op (EPC), today there is a national federation of 22 EPCs with 45,000 members, of which 32,000 are workers. All the care workers are members, albeit the legal status of the co-op is a consumer cooperative. The services rendered include in-home and community-based care and vocational education for elderly and handicapped. The EPCs entered the LTCI scheme in 2000, and its members are rapidly increasing. Also, as many members did not have co-operative experience, the organization is investing a lot in cooperative education.
Enjoy Sports Club Uonuma
Although the Enjoy Sports Club Uonuma is instead a loosely defined interest group than a real co-operative, it is an excellent example of how citizens can organize to address social issues. In this case, the club achieved significant health prevention effects such as reduction of depression with children and elderly, addressing inactivity (especially in winter) with sports programs .
BioBank Japan (BBJ) Project
The BioBank Japan (BBJ) Project represents a cooperative research project implementing a patient-based biobank, having collected the medical data over a 5-year period from over 200,000 patients. The registry allowed the analysis of diseases for improved personalized medicine . Although not a co-operative owned by the patients, it shows the potential of user cross-institutional collaboration and user registration for sharing health data for research purposes, as Midata.ch in Switzerland is a parade example of letting the data providers own and decide on the use of their data as co-op members.
The chisan-chisho movement promotes local food consumption since the 1990s as a response to the concern of disappearing local farms and scandals in the food sector. The initial grass-roots movement is today organized by government and farmers’ cooperatives. Despite its success, the chisan-chisho still needs to find additional ways on how to better capitalize on the local appeal of agrifood to become a more powerful political force .
EcoTech is an interdisciplinary co-operative that unites scientists, engineers, technicians, business people, and advocates for co-operatives and community activists. They create energy-efficient products that help clean the environment. An example of EcoTech’s international products is the bio-active home composter that decomposes organic waste into water and CO2. EcoTech has the aspiration to become the center of a social business movement including all industry sectors and types of players, including worker, consumer, and producer cooperatives .
Workers cooperative taxi cab business in Fukuoka
Similar to counterparts in different cities around the world, a taxi cab business emerged as a worker cooperative in Fukuoka, as also the Research Institute’s journal was reporting already in 2005 .
Association of Super-advanced Electronic Technology (ASET)
The Association of Super-advanced Electronic Technology (ASET), a Japanese electronics R&D co-op headquartered in Tokyo, got USD 300 million in Japanese government funding for research on semiconductors, magnetic storage, and display devices.
After the economy bubble from the late 1980s when it became difficult to purchase land, housing “rental-type” co-operatives in the form of condominiums became popular. The system is favorable for letting elderly living in their apartments although they do not own it .
After the study of cooperative examples in Japan in the context of identifying success factors for promoting the co-operative organizational form for a fairer future of work, the following points seem important to keep in mind for future efforts to advance the cooperative and social economy overall:
- Worker co-operatives need to get a clear and supportive legal basis in Japan, and themselves need to develop strategies to gain influence on the social agenda .
- I think it should be more clearly distinguished when using the term co-operative, as in cases of so-called big Japanese co-ops that do not grant member’s a voice in the leadership of the organization. One member one vote is, however, the most vital element of cooperative governance as only ownership and decision rights are effectively empowering the contributing citizen members.
- Although the young people are primarily affected by the challenging labor market, they don’t seem to be connected to the worker cooperative movement. Some few examples constitute JWCU worker groups consisting of primarily young people . For co-operatives to be successful, they need to be able to speak to the youth not only as volunteering organization but as a competitive better alternative to the neo-liberal capitalist economy.
- Increasing the awareness about co-operatives should be a priority as often the young people just don’t know about its possibilities .
- Millennials may appreciate opportunities for work-life balance. Co-operatives might be able to provide such a balance in addition to purpose and identification. Furthermore, co-operative governance can be designed to reward performance, therefore supporting personal growth in any ways.
- Solidarity between older and younger generation should also enable financing of co-operative start-ups of young people by the member funding of older more affluent people. Social impact investment should account for such opportunities.
- While grass-roots efforts are essential, the co-operative way should also be supported top-down as a political priority. A co-operative economy can not only be profitable but by not passing excess profits to just a few it is also able to provide for welfare benefits and community development where often tax paid government efforts failed in demonstrating sufficiently sustainable effects.
- All the co-operative seeds should be honored, but it has to be stated that the co-operative economy is negligible and toothless compared to the overall economy. There is no reason for the co-operative movement to rest on its laurels.
- Implementing democracy in organizations by giving the member-owners (and employees) a voice and a share are just natural. Therefore, the co-operative way, rather than being an extreme alternative movement, has the potential to be common sense across many political directions.
- Inter-cooperative cooperation is crucial to bundle the efforts for maximum effect on the growth of the movement. While modest scale for NPOs in welfare services and the solidarity economy is a positive feature, big-scale commercial markets have to be given back from shareholder exploitation to the citizens. Any business can be organized co-operatively.
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