The Co-operatives Research Unit (CRU) is based at the Open University at Milton Keynes in the UK. The Open University is one of the best known distance learning institutions in the world. The CRU has three main aims:

  1. to encourage and develop thinking and research on issues of importance to the social economy sector;
  2. to support the development of co-operatives and other organisations trading for social or ethical purposes; and
  3. to work with practitioners, policy makers and researchers at European, national and local levels to develop comparative analyses of issues for improving policy, development and management.

The most notable recent projects include:

  • A multi-partnered study of Social Enterprise in Europe
  • Third System and Employment - a 15 country study of the social economy and employment dynamics;
  • Re-asserting the Co-operative Advantage - a study of value-based strategies in the UK consumer co-op sector;
  • A study of social co-ops in the UK; a four country study of Social Audit in the social economy funded by European Commission (DG23);
  • A comparative study of employee ownership in Netherlands and UK.

The Co-operatives Research Unit is a founding members of EMES and has participated in the EMES, PERSE and ELEXIES projects.

Related individual researchers

  • Prof Roger Spear
  • Dr Mike Aiken
  • Prof Chris Cornforth
  • Dr Rita Rhodes

Contact information

Co-operatives Research Unit
Faculty of Technology
The Open University
Walton Hall | Milton Keynes MK7 6AA
United Kingdom
Tel.: (+44) 1908-65.30.54