Tag Archives: Well-being

Compassionate leadership: If we all ‘lead,’ we don’t need ‘managers’ anymore

There are significant differences between leadership and management

In our contemporary world both leadership and management may be required and co-exist in different situations, but the identification and understanding of their distinguishing features is important if we want to use both of them effectively and eventually think about shifting the emphasis towards managers who are real leaders too.

Having been in diverse leadership and/or management positions in educational institutions and schools, business and consulting firms, military/public service organizations, media and communication practices, as well as leisure/sports clubs and civic movements over the last 20 years, I’ve reflected on the difference between leadership and management from many different angles. I’m always coming back to the conclusion that the concepts of leadership and management are not as related as the popular interchangeable use of the terms might suggest.

The ultimate market-participating organizational SMART goals versus dreams and visions

Like a path is leading to a different place, or a sheep can be led into a stable, human leadership can be defined as leading something or somebody towards a certain direction. It is said that leadership requires meaning; meaning that is represented and communicated through goals. Although managerial and leadership goals should always be believed to be achievable, the type of goal formation process and quality of goals themselves involved in leadership and management differs significantly [1].

A leader typically is self-guided by intuition and his intimate moral understanding, while a manager is hired by the board of directors pursuing shareholders interest for securing maximized return on their investments. In case of doubt or conflict, the financial interests always have to succeed over other values in a for-profit organization. Manager’s success is measured by how accurately they achieve the business goals. The more long-term, the less predictable the attainment of goals becomes. Leadership tolerates not directly measurable long-term results [1]. Managers, in contrast, for above reasons preferably are to set short-term goals. To ensure that goals are as clear and realistic as possible, so-called SMART goals are commonly used in the corporate world, which ought to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Leaders may not only not have SMART goals, but even allow more vague dreams and visions that are often requiring significant imagination.

There is a difference between the concept of power based on formal authority and influence through inspiration

One broad approach is to define leadership as the interpersonal dimension of management that comprises the “ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals” ([2], p. 5). Frequently leadership gets confused with authority, seeing power as being based on formal roles. The formal assignments of a manager or officer let people notice legitimacy and comply with instructions because of fear of negative consequences in case of non-compliance [3]. When saying that leadership requires power, it is, however, not this authoritarian capability of incurring costs (for example in the form of punishment) for the people who refuse to obey [1]. Authoritarian regimes as examples of tight leadership in the form of control and prescription are generating poor results for the people. Instead, it is the ability to inspire for a voluntary fellowship by unforceful means that is resulting in individual prosperity, well-being, and peace through personal self-determination and fulfillment. Real leadership allows people self-leadership.

Leadership goes beyond the leadership aspects practiced in business administration

When the sum of the leadership structures followed by society is called culture [1], then the sum of management structures of market-participating organizations can be seen as the economy. Leaders create culture through the leadership structures they leave behind ([1], p. 11), while managers build administrations through the organizational patterns they establish. This thinking is in line with the terminology used in managerial education, where the top courses for aspiring or acting executive officers award for the title of the Master of Business Administration. Increasing parts of businesses consist of technology and digital resources, whereas human aspects tend to be further pushed into the background. Emotional and organic elements are taken out from the management of resources in favor of optimal planning accuracy. Again, although there may (but doesn’t have to) be some deal of leadership involved as well in steering a business, a real leader would never be reduced to be an administrator in that sense.

The irrelevance of leadership in the management of expectations

As Rudy Giuliani once put it, leaders first figure out what’s right, and then explain it to people, as opposed to first having people explain it and then just saying what they want to hear ([2], p.3). Indeed, managers tend to behave in a manner more or less in line with the management style endorsed within their country, industry or organization [4]. Firms choose new executives whose values are consistent with their own. If an executive is not filling the role as expected, he will be replaced with somebody who adheres more closely to expectations. From that perspective it is essential to have a rider, to use this metaphor, who holds the reins of a horse put before a cart, but any other rider who follows the relatively simple rules how to guide a horse and carriage can carry them as well. You can even let a child play the carter. It can be observed that the horse’s, respectively the organization’s personality, to come back to the organizational context, is actually more important than the “leader” himself [2].

Leaders emerge when there is an urge for change or the need to resolve a crisis or conflict

Leadership creates change, often of dramatic dimensions, such as when completely new market dynamics are developed, societal perceptions are shifted, or more diverse cultures emerge. Management on the other hand often is concerned about maintaining predictability and order [2]. Let’s think about why and how changes are managed in organizations. A big part of organizational administration deals with tracking changes to protect the status quo of power balances and interests of stakeholders and resources that contribute most to the profitable business. Such times of contentedness and stability are not calling for leaders whose strength is to move towards widening the range of beneficiaries. It is the time of crisis, in which leaders emerge. Managers monitor operational excellence of their subordinates typically in periods of economic strain. Charisma arises when there are heightened levels of distress among an increasing number of people that can be of not only financial but also psychological nature, constituting an individual and collective crisis of meaning that demands answers. If the problem is sought to be solved by somebody else, the ground is fertile for people to follow a leader who convincingly directs toward a comforting solution [3]. It has to be carefully evaluated whether these promises are meaningful and serving the common good, or whether there is an overemphasis on leader-reliance for whatever reason. Leaders are also required in situations of conflict. Conflict as the opposite of leadership is characterized by the absence of a functioning leader-follower relationship, typically because of disagreements related to a common course of action [1].

There is little leadership required and even possible in corporations

Following the argumentation so far, it is conceivable to suggest, assuming a bit a black and white perspective, that in organizations, at ordinary times there is little leadership required and even possible. Instead, what is required is a disciplined management that administers an organization to stay on track without visioning any significant change that would require leadership. Abraham Maslow regarded leaders as self-actualizing individuals who are self-determined, independent of culture, and following their inner guidance to help their fellow humans. For a leader of such qualities a narrow corporate environment likely would be unsatisfying at least and possibly over longer or sooner and would also be ethically conflicting. Executives of big corporations have contributed to the mistrust in corporate ethics due to their perceived focus on self-promotion and excessive greed. What seems to be required is more compassionate leadership in the service of others respectively in the view of the broader society and humanity beyond an institutional context [5].

The difference between moral, ethics, and professionalism

Ninety-nine percent of the global wealth is controlled by the top one percent of richest people. The issue is that this causes, for example, the daily death of tens of thousands of innocent children who are left without the necessary means to survive, such as food or health care. Unfortunately, as long as it is a tolerated practice that the already highly concentrated wealth is invested almost exclusively in opportunities that further accentuate this income and wealth inequality, there is little hope that compassionate (moral) and ethical leadership will prevail. Corporate social responsibility struggles to demonstrate a positive impact on the single measure bottom-line of financial profit generation, why it remains not much more than an afterthought. On the one hand, public relations and marketing communications of organizations increasingly use language that includes terms like ‘sharing,’ ‘love,’ ‘community,’ and ‘better world for all,’ to brand themselves socially towards consumers who are willing to pay a premium for such labels. This is true even for industries such as tobacco and arms. On the other hand, corporate ethics training is poised to be mere professional instruction on how to operate within legal constraints without jeopardizing business performance. This may be diligent management to serve capital, but not leadership to improve the human condition.

Shaping the role of genuinely great managerial leadership

Again, in all kinds of organizational settings, there may be a necessary mix of administrative and leadership qualities at work, suggesting a combined role of a ‘managerial leader’ [2].

Maybe the understanding of managerial leadership as based on self-actualization could further evolve to increasingly focus the help of other people in the organizational context while also not losing sight of the fairness towards and the well-being of people in the broader national societal and even global humanitarian context. Importantly, we should not forget that such a broadening of the benefits of leadership requires courageous first-/early-moving followers, who lead others not to remain passive bystanders but to support change towards growth and development of all actively. Asking managerial questions for organizational survival is foundational, but without further questioning on what basis, to what extent, and at whose cost, it is difficult to see real leadership added to management. The more inclusive and compassionate questions get expanded to the scope of all humanity, the greater the leadership involved.

In the current economic and competitive context, cooperation may indeed risk losing some battles in the field of short-term inter-organizational rivalry. However, already today more than ever, genuinely great managerial leadership also can become a competitive advantage and an opportunity for priceless emotional rewards for our all well-being. I think we are on the way to return to a more overall life-relevant philosophical understanding of leadership in which everyone’s full human potential is embraced. In that sense, leadership beyond management is relevant and possible for all of us. If we all assume a managerial leadership role, we don’t need managers anymore. Let’s take the chance.

References

[1] Paschen, M., & Dihsmaier, E. (2013). The psychology of human leadership: How to develop charisma and authority. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

[2] DuBrin, A. J. (2015). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

[3] Doyle, M. E., & Smith, M. K. (2001). Classical models of managerial leadership: Trait, behavioural, contingency and transformational theory. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/leadership/traditional_leadership.htm

[4] Dorfman, P., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., Dastmalchian, A., & House, R. (2012). GLOBE: A twenty year journey into the intriguing world of culture and leadership. Journal of World Business, 47(4), 504–518.

[5] Soni, B., & Soni, R. (2016). Enhancing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Effective Leadership. Competition Forum, 14(2), 259-263.

Metacognitive Strategies for Learning (LD) vs. Intellectual Disabilities (ID)

mathias-sager-learning-intellectual-disability-metacognition

Summary. This article describes some metacognitive strategies to learner profiles and then evaluates those strategies for individuals of different ages with intellectual and learning disabilities. In order to do so, different variables that effect those with intellectual and learning disabilities are identified. Social and cultural implications, as well as life span stages and interpersonal communication are discussed.

Continue reading Metacognitive Strategies for Learning (LD) vs. Intellectual Disabilities (ID)

Rage Against the Externalized Self

mathias-sager-psychology-rage-self

Summary. Inabilities to accept (and therefore recognize) our dark feelings are leading us to externalize our shadow (as Jungians would say) to others, for example to a therefor loved partner. Especially vulnerable narcissists defend themselves against shameful helplessness in cases of separation with a partner (and therefore with a part of themselves) by negating their helplessness. To avoid frustration, rage, and violent defenses in case of uncontrollable separation it is, therefore, to some extent, essential to learning to live with (learned) helplessness.

Continue reading Rage Against the Externalized Self

Learned Helplessness (LH) and the Need to Promote Hope

mathias-sager-hope

Learned helplessness and some psychological disorders

Dogs who experienced repeatedly unavoidable electro shocks learned that they have no control over escaping from such painful events [1], and henceforth developed a cognitive deficit in the form of generalizing the helplessness expectation to other situations [2]. This phenomenon is also considered reduced incentive motivation [3]. Mental patterns of learned helplessness (LH) resemble those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which associate with depression [4]. LH is mentioned as the animal correspondent of depression [5]. Indeed, LH was found to be a primary cause of both PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD) [6]. Depression includes the symptoms of feeling helplessness, but it is not its (sole) source. Non-depressed people can learn helplessness as well. Interestingly, ‘normal’ people may over-optimistically assess their level of control and therefore less likely notice uncontrollability as more realistically reasoning individuals with depressive tendencies do [7].

Example

For what could appear as inappropriate passivity in refugees who are not seeking help and not filing timely registration from the new government, for example, can be explained by LH theory. Survivors of traumatic persecution have learned that they cannot expect help from their violent or passive government, an uncontrollable fact that caused the learning of helplessness that now is applied to the new country’s government as well [6]. LH is characterized by attributions that are more personalized, constant, and of global nature and is directly associated with more severe PTSD and MDD symptoms. The relative importance of a situation to a person’s identity is further mediating this relationship [8]. This way, LH explains why a persecuted refugee may not display the knowledge of pro-actively managing the required legal administration even in a new context that would, in contrast to the former learned one, offering help to do so [6].

Related theories and hope

Towards the end of the last century, the finding that hopelessness can lead to depression caused researchers like Seligman to re-focus from helplessness to hopelessness and finally to a hope-promoting view that was intended to prevent helplessness and related pathologies of hopelessness depression [2]. For individuals who assume a performance-oriented motivation, prompts of hope and self-esteem are important to let them believe in their ability and become actively engaged, e.g., in learning and other challenging tasks. In contrast, according to goal achievement theory, subjects with a mastery-(learning-)orientation behave actively regardless of their degree of self-confidence. [9]. Models of regulation posit that learners self-regulate (i.e., manage, monitor, and motivate) their resources either towards process or achievement goals [10]. However pronounced and efficient these strategies may be though; the effects of hope finally beat any deficits in self-regulation [9].

Social-cognitive approach

A more positive outlook on relationships reduced the detrimental correlation between PTSD and dysfunctional goal orientation such as performance-avoidance. While mastery development is achieved through social comparison, performance-avoiding students see peer comparison as a threat. Therefore, motivation to get help and to learn can be increased by the adoption of a social-cognitive framework that is supportive of a positive relational outlook fostering help-seeking experiences [11].

Photo credit: Pexels (pixabay.com)

References
[1] Seligman, M. E., & Weiss, J. M. (1980). Coping behavior: Learned helplessness, physiological change and learned inactivity. Behaviour Research And Therapy, 18(5), 459-512. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(80)90011-X
[2] Nunn, K. P., & Thompson, S. L. (1996). The pervasive refusal syndrome: Learned helplessness and hopelessness. Clinical Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 1(1), 121-132. doi:10.1177/1359104596011011
[3] Maier, S. F., & Seligman, M. E. (1976). Learned helplessness: Theory and evidence. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General, 105(1), 3-46. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.105.1.3
[4] Bargai, N. )., Shalev, A. )., & Ben-Shakhar, G. ). (2007). Posttraumatic stress disorder and depression in battered women: The mediating role of learned helplessness. Journal Of Family Violence, 22(5), 267-275. doi:10.1007/s10896-007-9078-y
[5] Greenwood, B. N., & Fleshner, M. (2008). Exercise, learned helplessness, and the stress-resistant brain. Neuromolecular Medicine, 10(2), 81-98. doi:10.1007/s12017-008-8029-y
[6] White, B. R. (2016). Using Learned Helplessness to Understand the Effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder on Refugees and Explain Why These Disorders Should Qualify as Extraordinary Circumstances Excusing Untimely Asylum Applications. Buffalo Law Review, 64(2), 413-463.
[7] Schwartz, B. (1981). Does helplessness cause depression, or do only depressed people become helpless? Comment on Alloy and Abramson. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General, 110(3), 429-435. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.110.3.429
[8] Reiland, S. A. (2017). Event Centrality as Mediator Between Attributions and Mental Health Outcomes. Journal Of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 26(6), 574-589. doi:10.1080/10926771.2017.1308981
[9] Sideridis, G. )., & Kaplan, A. ). (2011). Achievement goals and persistence across tasks: The roles of failure and success. Journal Of Experimental Education, 79(4), 429-451. doi:10.1080/00220973.2010.539634
[10] Rezaee, R., & Mosalanejad, L. (2015). The effects of case-based team learning on students’ learning, self regulation and self direction. Global Journal Of Health Science, 7(4), 295-306. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v7n4p295
[11] Ness, B. M., Middleton, M. J., & Hildebrandt, M. J. (2015). Examining the Effects of Self-reported Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Positive Relations With Others on Self-regulated Learning for Student Service Members/Veterans. Journal Of American College Health, 63(7), 448-458.

Cooperatives in Japan (Article Series): Part 4/4 – Overview of the Japanese Cooperative sector

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 

japan coops infograph 1.pngInfographic 1. Overview of Cooperatives in Japan (1/2) [1]

japan coops infograph 2.pngInfographic 1. Overview of Cooperatives in Japan (2/2) [1]

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

GeneralJapan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
ConsumerJapan Consumer’s Cooperatives Union (Nisseikyo)
Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union
WorkerWomen’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
Fukushi Club
Independent worker cooperatives
NPOs managed by workers’ collectivesAtsugi Human Support Network

Table 2. Co-op examples by industry sector

AgricultureNational Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (ZEN-NOH)
Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (Nokyo)
Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JAC, JAs)
FinanceAgricultural 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, CareJWCU Home Helper Training Centers
Cooperative hospitals
Senior Co-operative (Koreikyo)
Ayumi Care Service
Fukuoka Elderly Person’s Co-op (EPC)
Enjoy Sports Club Uonuma
FoodChisan-Shisho movement
EcologyEcoTech
TransportWorkers cooperative taxi cab business in Fukuoka
Electronics R&DAssociation of Super-advanced Electronic Technology (ASET)
HousingCondominiums

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 [2].

Co-op Examples by Type

Consumer Co-operatives

Japan Consumer’s Cooperatives Union (Nisseikyo)

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 [3]. 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 [3].

Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union 

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 [3].

Worker Co-operatives

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 [4] 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 [5] 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 [5]. 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 [6].

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 [4].

Japan Worker’s Cooperative Union (JWCU) 

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 [4]. Further examples are a high-school cooperative, a shoemaking collective, a bakery, and a theatrical company, etc. [5].

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 [4]. 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 [4].

Japanese Institute of Co-operative Research (JICR) 

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 [4].

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 [3].

Fukushi Club

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 [7].

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 [4].

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 [3].

Co-op Examples by Industry Sector

Agricultural Co-operatives

National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JAC Zennoh) 

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 [8]. It represents the top of the pyramid of the agricultural cooperatives organized on local, prefectural, and national level [9]. The JAC Zennoh is in charge of sales activities on the national level for its farmer’s co-operatives (JAC) members [10].

Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JAC Zenchu, Nokyo) 

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 [3]. The JAC Zenchu is in charge of planning on national level for its JAC members [10].

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).

Financial Co-operatives

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 [11].

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 [3].

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 [3]. 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 [12], able to revitalize deprived communities [14], and which are of considerable importance in the Japanese financial market [13].

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 [5].

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 [15].

Health, Care

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 [16].

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 [4].

Co-operative hospitals

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 [4].

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 [4].

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 [16].

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 [17].

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 [18]. 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.

Food

Chisan-Shisho movement

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 [10].

Ecology

EcoTech 

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 [4].

Transport

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 [4].

Electronics R&D

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.

Housing

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 [19].

Conclusion

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 [5].
  • 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 [4]. 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 [4].
  • 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.

 

References

[1] International Cooperative Year Commemorative Cooperative National Council (n.d.). Welcome to the Cooperatives Japan Website. Retrieved from http://www.iyc2012japan.coop/whatsnew/101217_01.html

[2] Mizuta, D. D., & Vlachopoulou, E. I. (2017). Satoumi concept illustrated by sustainable bottom-up initiatives of Japanese Fisheries Cooperative Associations. Marine Policy, 78143-149. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2017.01.020

[3] Kitazawa, Y. (2010). Japan’s lost decades and a women-led socio-solidarity economy. Development, 53(3), 416-420. doi:10.1057/dev.2010.46

[4] Marshall, B. (2006). Japan’s worker co-operative movement into the 21st century. Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, (23),

[5] Ishizuka, H. (2002). The Social Economy Sector in Japan. Annals Of Public & Cooperative Economics, 73(2), 241.

[6] Abello, O.P. (2016, January). NYC Set to Triple Number of Worker Cooperatives. Retrieved from https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/nyc-worker-cooperatives-jobs-increase

[7] Lord, A., & Mellor, M. (1996). Women and the cooperative provision of care: the example of the ‘Fukushi Club’ in Japan. Economic And Industrial Democracy, 17(2), 199-220.

[8] Chesnick, D. S., & Liebrand, C. B. (2007). Global 300 list reveals world’s largest cooperatives. Rural Cooperatives, 74(1), 28-31.

[9] Gherman, R., Dincu, A., Milin, A., & Brad, I. (2016). Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives in Japan – A Model for Cooperativization of Agriculture from Romania. Scientific Papers: Animal Science & Biotechnologies / Lucrari Stiintifice: Zootehnie Si Biotehnologii, 49(2), 212-216.

[10] Kimura, A. H., & Nishiyama, M. (2008). The Chisan-Chisho Movement: Japanese Local Food Movement and Its Challenges. Agriculture And Human Values, 25(1), 49-64. doi:http://dx.doi.org.liverpool.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10460-007-9077-x

[11] Klinedinst, M., & Sato, H. (1994). The Japanese Cooperative Sector. Journal Of Economic Issues (Association For Evolutionary Economics), 28(2), 509.

[12] Glass, J. C., McKillop, D. G., Quinn, B., & Wilson, J. S. (2014). Cooperative Bank Efficiency in Japan: A Parametric Distance Function Analysis. European Journal Of Finance, 20(1-3), 291-317.

[13] Yamori, N., Harimaya, K., & Tomimura, K. (2011). The Roles of Outside Directors in Cooperative Financial Institutions: The Case of Japan. Banks And Bank Systems, 6(4), 11-14.

[14] Chris, M., & Sachiko, N. (2010). How can co-operative banks spread the spirit of co-operation in deprived communities?. Social Enterprise Journal, (2), 162. doi:10.1108/17508611011069284

[15] Sachiko, N. (2015). A ROLE OF SOCIAL FINANCE BY A COOPERATIVE: A CASE STUDY OF GREEN COOP FUKUOKA, JAPAN. ACRN Oxford Journal Of Finance & Risk Perspectives, 4(3), 1-18.

[16] Kurimoto, A. )., & Kumakura, Y. ). (2016). Emergence and evolution of co-operatives for elderly care in Japan. International Review Of Sociology, 26(1), 48-68. doi:10.1080/03906701.2016.1148341

[17] Iguchi, S., Niwayama, M., & Takahashi, H. E. (2015). A conference report of the interprofessional satellite symposium in Uonuma, Japan: an international exchange on the future of community care. Journal Of Interprofessional Care, 29(3), 284-287. doi:10.3109/13561820.2014.966541

[18] Nagai, A., Hirata, M., Kamatani, Y., Muto, K., Matsuda, K., Kiyohara, Y., & … Kubo, M. (2017). Overview of the BioBank Japan Project: Study design and profile. Journal Of Epidemiology, 27(3S), S2-S8. doi:10.1016/j.je.2016.12.005

[19] Ekuni, T., & Jung, J. (2015). 日本初の賃貸型コーポラティブハウスの居住者主体による賃貸システム 改変の変遷に関する研究. 都市住宅学, 2015(91), 124-129. doi:10.11531/uhs.2015.91_124

Cooperatives in Japan (Article Series): Part 3/4 – The Japanese Social Economy, Policymaking, and Co-operative Governance

The “Third Sector” (Social Economy)

Overview and Conclusion article for Part 1 – Part 4, please see here.

The “third sector,” or social economy, is the space of social issues that are left by government and private sector (corporate) failures. It is the arena in which the two actors after-negotiate how to share the burden to resolve the problems they feel could fire back if not addressed.

 mathias-sager-social-economu.jpg

Japanese governmental statistics (SNA, System of National Account) defined ‘industry’ as for-profit businesses only until 1998, why there was no clear concept for a non-profit organization (NPO) [1]. Since then the NPO Law allows civil society organizations to easily acquire nonprofit corporation status [10]. The social sector represented by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), NPOs, and cooperatives is thought to cover social problems like community development, environmental protection, and social movements. Unlike informal associations, NGOs, and NPOs, cooperatives are the only organizational form that represents the ‘Institutionalized’ Social Economy. Therefore, the cooperatives should be assigned a leadership role in the social economy sector. In Japan, the caption NPO is more prominent than social economy [1].

Cooperatives are by definition only a resource for their members; they cannot take the place of the state as a universal provider, without having the responsibilities and resources of the state [14].

In East Asian countries state influence on social enterprises including cooperatives has been stronger than in other regions. This bears the risk for social organizations to lose independence from public agencies. Another threat is that businesses focusing on financial independence and market performance can lose sight of their social responsibility [2]. This might be less the case for cooperatives that are consequently governed of, by, and for their active members.

Positioning of social enterprise for three regions

Figure 1: Positioning of social enterprise for three regions [2]

The “ideal-type” social enterprise underlines a participatory dynamic in the governance structure [2].

As the social enterprise concept is starting to further develop in Eastern Asia, it is essential to answer the question about the most suitable governance model. It was found that in Eastern Asia, even more than in the US, a participatory governance model, and cooperative principles inspired organizational forms could represent the ideal-type of autonomous social organizations. More innovative and flexible types such as, for example, multi-stakeholder cooperative models require more research and experience [2].

Cooperatives are always “collectives” as they involve member participation in the governance structure. But “collectives” don’t necessarily provide for member ownership structures as inherent in the co-operative. The same is true for so-called buying (or other) clubs whose members carry out an activity together, whether organized as an NPO social club or as a cooperative.

There is simply no easy, legal way to organize worker co-operation in Japan yet, and this must surely be a barrier to their spread [3, p. 16].

Co-ops in Japan are traditionally regulated by sectors, e.g., the Consumer Co-operative Act (1948), The Agricultural Co-operative Act (1947), and the Fishery Co-operative Act (1948). Worker cooperatives are particularly promising to address inequality of income and opportunity, as well as for employee motivation, performance, and in-house innovation. However, in Japan, they lack legal recognition, why worker members often organize in organizations incorporated under the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) Co-operative Act (1949) or the NPO Act [4]. In other words, it is not forbidden anymore for workers to cooperate for consumption, credit and marketing purposes, but there is also no law positively supporting such aspirations. That’s the reason why the Japan Institute for Cooperative Research (JICR) does promote a new worker law [3].

As discussed in the article “Japanese Cooperatives: Part 1 – Challenges” too, Stock Ownership Plans are not available in Japan to restructure ownership, and the requirements for establishing a joint stock corporation are difficult in Japan as elsewhere. An unusual but clever way went the Senior Cooperative “Koreikyo” that is a consumer co-operative assuming features of a worker co-operative. A currency-like ticketing system achieves the hybrid type of cooperative operation. Members buy books of tickets and use the tickets for paying for co-op services. The services providers redeem later the collected tickets to cover their compensation [3].

Policy Making in Japan

The labor market in Japan has become more challenging. Besides vocational education, career coaching, and traditional start-ups, a new system to incorporate NPOs and worker cooperatives should be prioritized by policy makers [5]. Other countries are also starting to invest more than ever into the development of worker cooperatives that foster dignity and wealth for all as the example of New York initiative for tripling the number of worker cooperatives shows [6]. Also, the conflict between fiscal policy constraints and social policy development can be best resolved by developing the social economy sector and mobilizing its resources and communities [1].

Contracted employees today in Japan don’t enjoy a legal basis that is protecting them as employees; the Civic Code needs still to be adjusted for protective provisions going beyond a service contract and including social welfare for contractors who in fact are engaged in work as employees [5].

The “iron triangle” of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians, bureaucratic ministries, and vested interest groups—still represents a formidable and functioning element of Japan’s central governing process [7].

Regarding policy making it was found to be challenging to get access to locked circles of party-bureaucracy-interest-group policymaking in economic and social sectors. This situation stemmed mainly from the example of closed-door decision making in the agricultural policy triangle. The Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) reform intended to no longer view the JA as the sole voice of the farming sector and to reduce JA’s most dominant position as a pressure group. The reform is considered to be radical, but ultimately also quite limited in its effect [8]. The differing interests of large international corporations and the local small-scale businesses (farmers) have slowed down (agricultural) policy reforms. Therefore, the JA-Zenchu will likely remain the most powerful and influential interest group in Japanese politics [9]. However, the autonomy of JA is limited too because of its traditional receipt of state donations [1].

Co-operative Governance

Cooperatives are guided by their identity, values, and principles.

Co-operative Identity: A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise [10].

Co-operative Values: Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

Co-operative principles: 1. Voluntary and Open Membership, 2. Democratic Member Control, 3. Member Economic Participation, 4. Autonomy and Independence, 5. Education, Training and Information, 6. Co-operation among Co-operatives, 7. Concern for Community

In general, cooperative governance can be clarified with a model of four pillars.

TeamingSuccessfully working together to achieve common purpose
Accountable EmpowermentSuccessfully empowering people while at the same time holding them accountable for the power granted.
Strategic LeadershipSuccessfully articulating the cooperative’s direction/purpose and setting the organization up for movement in this direction.
DemocracySuccessfully sustaining a culture in which people choose meaningful ways to participate for both individual and common good.

Table 1. The four pillars of cooperative governance [11]

When a co-operative bank acts as “community organizer”, undertaking tasks which are outside its usual sphere of activities as financier, and its board includes members of the social enterprise sector, its positive impact on community development is more effective [13, p. 162].

Capable management is important. Some literature from Japan reports on the need in different sectors for cooperatives to upgrade their management methods [1]. According to research in 2006, 63% of past co-operative bankruptcies were due to management problems. It was also found that the presence of outside director on the board of directors had a positive influence on management performance. However, there is usually no pressure from the membership to require outside directors. Therefore, some suggest that authorities such as the Financial Services Agency (FSA) shall stress this need [12].

To make raising equity for cooperatives easier, it appears to be important to understand the nature of the transferable membership capital method [15].

In general, it is known that cooperatives have it harder to get funding as compared to traditional capitalist businesses [15], although there are signs that social impact capital, or purpose capital, is on the rise. Indeed, co-op member’s favorite survey response to work at a co-operative was the one of seeking “ikigai”, i.e., “a purpose in life” [3]. It might be, as a general pattern, that where the money can come from, capitalist monetary values predominate social considerations. Therefore, due to limited profit maximization for single individuals, limited financing is a significant growth limitation for the cooperative economy, although a membership market could provide for the same economic potential. To solve this problem, some cooperatives have resorted to the method of issuing transferable membership capital, e.g., a housing cooperative raising equity capital by issuing shares and investing it in the construction projects, and after that trading the shares on the open market [15]. It is also necessary to create financial mutual aid systems in the social economy such as initiatives started by the Eitai Credit Union in Tokio [1].

How independent are SME’s in Japan?

Japanese SME’s for their survival need to form alliances with major firms that are dominating the markets. Subcontracting is so extensive in Japan that SME’s independence needs to be questioned. Such domestic loyalty networks often served as de facto trade barriers [16] and also need to be taken into account by any new co-operative businesses.

What is needed for the solidarity economy in Japan is to form loose networks, like the Atsugi Human Support Network, at the regional, national and global levels, and to engage in political action to fight against neo-liberalism [17].

Often genuinely collaborative loose networks do, tragically, not evolve without exceptional circumstances. For example, The Emergency Job Creation (EJC) program as a response to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake disaster achieved the collaboration among stakeholders as diverse as NPOs, NGOs, social welfare corporations, and other companies [18]. It is to hope that the solidarity economy can be more successfully promoted in the future on local, regional, and global level [17]. Ways must be found how to convince also private corporations who currently value monetary profit instead of social orientation to contribute to solidarity more consequently [1].

As per the co-operative governance principle of cooperation among cooperatives, it is critical to act on this aspect more intensively. Shared interests and synergies can be used better to intensify inter-cooperative cooperation. For example, all forestry, agriculture, consumer, and fisheries have been concerned about improved water environments. Similarly, any cooperative as connected to the member-community can facilitate access to and provision of in-home services such as healthcare together with other cooperatives [1].

the extension of the coop movement.png

The Japanese Cooperative Council (JCC) links to the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), a similar systematic national connector is missing [1]. For the cooperatives and related organizations in the broader digital economy, the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium has started to assume such a role. There is the risk that cooperatives appear old-fashioned in the eyes of the younger generations. Increased openness, exciting and influential networks of co-operatives might be a means to rejuvenate and strengthen the movement. Academia and national innovation networks that dare to learn from and promote to an also international dimension [19] may play a vital role in that journey too.

 

References

[1] Ishizuka, H. (2002). The Social Economy Sector in Japan. Annals Of Public & Cooperative Economics, 73(2), 241.

[2] Defourny, J., & Kim, S. (2011). Emerging models of social enterprise in Eastern Asia: a cross-country analysis. Social Enterprise Journal, 7(1), 86. doi:10.1108/17508611111130176

[3] Marshall, B. (2006). Japan’s worker co-operative movement into the 21st century. Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, (23),

[4] Kurimoto, A. )., & Kumakura, Y. ). (2016). Emergence and evolution of co-operatives for elderly care in Japan. International Review Of Sociology, 26(1), 48-68. doi:10.1080/03906701.2016.1148341

[5] Nogawa, S. (2012). The Great East Japan Earthquake and a Future Vision for Labor Law in Japan. Japan Labor Review, 9(4), 105-123.

[6] Abello, O.P. (2016, January). NYC Set to Triple Number of Worker Cooperatives. Retrieved from https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/nyc-worker-cooperatives-jobs-increase

[7] Mulgan, A. G. (2016). Loosening the ties that bind: Japan’s agricultural policy triangle and reform of cooperatives (JA). Journal Of Japanese Studies, 42(2), 221-246.

[8] Mulgan, A. G. (2016). Much ado about something? The Abe government’s reform of Japan’s agricultural cooperatives (JA). Japanese Studies, 36(1), 83-103.

[9] Jamitzky, U. (2015). The TPP Debate in Japan: Reasons for a Failed Protest Campaign. Asia Pacific Perspectives, 13(1), 79.

[10] International Co-operative Alliance (n.d.). Co-operative identity, values & principles. Retrieved from https://ica.coop/en/whats-co-op/co-operative-identity-values-principles

[11] CDS Consulting Co-op (n.d.). Four Pillars of Cooperative Governance. Retrieved from http://www.cdsconsulting.coop/cooperative_governance/4pcg/

[12] Yamori, N., Harimaya, K., & Tomimura, K. (2011). The Roles of Outside Directors in Cooperative Financial Institutions: The Case of Japan. Banks And Bank Systems, 6(4), 11-14.

[13] Chris, M., & Sachiko, N. (2010). How can co-operative banks spread the spirit of co-operation in deprived communities?. Social Enterprise Journal, (2), 162. doi:10.1108/17508611011069284

[14] Lord, A., & Mellor, M. (1996). Women and the cooperative provision of care: the example of the ‘Fukushi Club’ in Japan. Economic And Industrial Democracy, 17(2), 199-220.

[15] Mikami, K. (2015). Raising Capital by Issuing Transferable Membership in a Consumer Cooperative. International Journal Of Social Economics, 42(2), 132-142.

[16] Dana, L. P. (1998). Small but Not Independent: SMEs in Japan. Journal Of Small Business Management, 36(4), 73-76.

[17] Kitazawa, Y. (2010). Japan’s lost decades and a women-led socio-solidarity economy. Development, 53(3), 416-420. doi:10.1057/dev.2010.46

[18] Nagamatsu, S., & Ono, A. (2017). Job Creation after Catastrophic Events: Lessons from the Emergency Job Creation Program after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Japan Labor Review, 14(1), 112-131.

[19] Miotti, L., & Sachwald, F. (2003). Co-operative R&D: Why and with Whom? An Integrated Framework of Analysis. Research Policy, 32(8), 1481-1499. doi:http://dx.doi.org.liverpool.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/S0048-7333(02)00159-2

[20] About NPO Law (n.d.). How the NPO Law came about and why it is important. Retrieved from http://www.jnpoc.ne.jp/en/nonprofits-in-japan/about-npo-law/

Cooperatives in Japan (Article Series): Part 2/4 – Cooperative Advantages

Overview and Conclusion article for Part 1 – Part 4, please see here.

To make it clear right up front: cooperation isn’t just an idea; it is instead a universal need and natural law for human thriving, be it in one’s spiritual connections, interpersonal relations, or business matters. Member-owned cooperative organizations as they are institutionalized are not only an alternative to shareholder directed corporations; they are necessary for a fairer working world. The cooperative values and principles have the potential to let the pendulum switch from the pure capitalist to the cooperative inclusive side. Just, the few powerful and wealthy who are profiting so immensely from the current system won’t give up their privileges for the benefit of more people. However, there are so many reasons why co-operatives are the better way for all to organize any endeavor and business. Once the movement gained traction, people will wonder how it was at all possible to accept undemocratic, inequitable and unsustainable practices around the world that caused so much injustice and destruction for such a long time. Therefore, the shift will mark a real evolutionary step. Now that the digital age is at a cross-road how to be organized in the future (see Platform Cooperativism), we have an opportunity to decide on the overall direction of society, not only in the virtual world. The following article outlines some main points that make the fairer co-operative way preferable to the extractive capitalist system from both economic, social, and environmental perspectives.

Socio-ecological integration enhances not only the long-term sustainability of businesses but also supports environmentally conscious consumption. [1]

“Sato” in Japanese means the area where people live, and “umi” means the sea. ‘Sato-umi’ describes a holistic approach that fosters sustainable and competitive human-ecosystem interaction with the result, as demonstrated by the Fisheries Cooperative Associations (FCAs), of increased biodiversity and productivity and consequently a healthier environment and economic ecosystem. Sato-umi may be unique in how established the practices are: therefore, ready to be further spread in Japan and promoted globally [1]. Many of the advantages of the cooperative way presented in this article may be linked or linkable to Sato-umi. It seems most important to further seek a best of all approach by building on existing (Japan specific) strengths and mitigating weaknesses to elevate the cooperative movement to the next level.

sato-umi.jpg

Source: satoumi.net

Satoumi-related activities promote lifelong learning opportunities, social and economic inclusion, and equality within communities and countries. Long-term involvement nourishes the desire to protect and promote through innovation, and harmony between human and ecosystem factors foster collaboration [1].

Acting as a rural development agency, the government makes loans to the farmers at a low interest rate through the cooperatives, which is called a ‘system loan’ [2, p. 512].

One of the primary services of agricultural co-ops in Japan is mutual credit and insurance that helps develop agrarian projects and the industry overall. Cooperatives can stimulate the cooperative sector by providing low-interest rate system loans [2]. Such investments may bear lower profits in the short term, but cooperatives have proven that, by benefitting their members instead of their investors, they are fitter for the long-term survival of the business [3].

Cooperatives continued to extend their successful operations even 30 years in business in highly competitive service industries through times of stagnation in Japan’s national economy [5].

Locally anchored participatory businesses demonstrate sustainable productivity through a combination of traditional knowledge and innovation [1]. The instability that is all too often a tendency of new and small businesses can be mitigated by a cooperative working style. For example, the Seikatsu Club Consumer Co-operative grew their services sustainably from the 1980s to over a quarter of a million members already in 2006. Among the members mostly women who otherwise have difficulties to find suitable work (see article “Japanese Cooperatives Part 1 – Challenges“), against all the adverse economic conditions that caused other businesses to stagnate or even collapse in the same competitive sectors [4]. Evidence shows that firms which combine employee ownership and participatory governance outperform other companies [5].

mathias-sager about seikatsu club japan.png

How to build the necessary new extensive welfare services while keeping corporations unaccountable and taxations low? 

Where the government nor the private sector want to compensate for welfare services, cooperatives (besides various private firms and NPOs) fill gaps by establishing flexible strategies such as ‘registered helpers’ who are rendering services as paid volunteers, ‘mutual assistance schemes,’ and ‘welfare clubs’ [6].

To stay competitive against increased globalization, e.g., cheap import of rice, policies to professionalize and scale agricultural businesses were implemented by the government through the promotion of cooperatives. While the co-ops fulfill the government’s New Institutional Economics requirements of relevance, appropriateness, durability, and fairness, cooperative farming did not meet the normed expectations of efficiency, profitability, and competitiveness, which led to some drawbacks in the plan [7].

Market power and asymmetric information appear less influential in the formation of food processing cooperatives [8].

It might be the right direction to start with fairness and then make the business a profitable one too. Agricultural cooperatives operate food processing businesses that are more transparent to the consumer, also regarding the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. People have become more sensitive to food security and request symmetric information distribution between the farmers and the buyers. This is best possible if the food producer (farm) and the food processing businesses controlled by the same owners, respectively cooperatives [8]. Organic farming and food processing have become a business model allowing for attractive premiums. The 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster was very harmful to organic farmers in the region though. Teikei consumer groups (consumers buying directly from farmers) and small cooperatives practicing “teikei” found a way to inspect radiation contamination independently to restore trust in food security [9].

Finally, it is all about solidarity between the people, which is contrary to neo-liberalism as the most extreme form of capitalism that is seeking to maximize profits through large corporations and financial institutions instead of protecting also the environment, human rights, and discriminated workers [10] (see article “Japanese Cooperatives Part 1 – Challenges“).

 

References

[1] Mizuta, D. D., & Vlachopoulou, E. I. (2017). Satoumi concept illustrated by sustainable bottom-up initiatives of Japanese Fisheries Cooperative Associations. Marine Policy, 78143-149. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2017.01.020

[2] Klinedinst, M., & Sato, H. (1994). The Japanese Cooperative Sector. Journal Of Economic Issues (Association For Evolutionary Economics), 28(2), 509.

[3] Chesnick, D. S., & Liebrand, C. B. (2007). Global 300 list reveals world’s largest cooperatives. Rural Cooperatives, 74(1), 28-31.

[4] Marshall, B. (2006). Japan’s worker co-operative movement into the 21st century. Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, (23),

[5] Marshall, R. C. (2003). The culture of cooperation in three Japanese worker cooperatives. Economic And Industrial Democracy, 24(4), 543-572.

[6] Lord, A., & Mellor, M. (1996). Women and the cooperative provision of care: the example of the ‘Fukushi Club’ in Japan. Economic And Industrial Democracy, 17(2), 199-220.

[7] Yoshitaka, M. (2016). The Failure of Cooperative Farming Development Policies in Tōhoku, Japan. Journal Of Resources & Ecology, 7(2), 137-143. doi:10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2016.02.009

[8] Mikami, K., & Tanaka, S. (2008). Food processing business and agriculture cooperatives in Japan: market power and asymmetric information. Asian Economic Journal, 22(1), 83-107.

[9] Kondoh, K. (2015). The Alternative Food Movement in Japan: Challenges, Limits, and Resilience of the Teikei System. c(1), 143-153.

[10] Kitazawa, Y. (2010). Japan’s lost decades and a women-led socio-solidarity economy. Development, 53(3), 416-420. doi:10.1057/dev.2010.46

Cooperatives in Japan (Article Series): Part 1/4 – Challenges and the Necessity for Cooperatives

Overview and Conclusion article for Part 1 – Part 4, please see here.

The article presents Japan-specific details related to economic, demographic, and cultural challenges that can potentially be addressed by a more cooperative economy. Despite national peculiarities and unique cultural phenomena, the background against which the issues have to be seen should not be forgotten. When analyzing why social and environmental problems cannot be improved, one will always be led back to the observation of excesses that are caused by the capitalist economy’s ultimate fight for maximum profits. Where is the limit between acting responsible and exploiting natural resources and workers? Unfortunately, the answer is that there will never be a healthy balance resulting from a system that seeks maximization of monetary profits for a small elite above anything else.

“Japan has experienced ‘two lost decades,’ with zero or minus growth (Gross Domestic Product (GDP)) and price deflation (Consumer Price Index (CPI)).” [1, p. 416] 

minus growth and price deflation.jpg

Figure 1. Minus growth and price deflation [10]

After the burst of the economic bubble in 1991, many of the small and medium-sized enterprises have gone bankrupt, and consumers’ buying power declined. The big corporations haven’t maintained the diverse vitality and innovation of the SME’s [1], despite the continuous pressure to innovate and create new markets in Japan, especially in information and communication technology sectors [2].

The real winner of the 2014 reform package (deregulation of farmland) could be land-hungry companies with little or no interest in the future of Japanese agriculture [5]. 

land-hungry companies Japan.jpg

The political system is considered to be in need of further procedural and methodological upgrades, especially on local levels [3]. For example, there exist unresolved conflicting goals related to the aspired consolidation of farmland (respectively enlargement of farms for increased productivity) by the local actors and regarding the deregulation of farmland, which makes it accessible to corporations [4]. The essential Japanese cooperative sector for agriculture is threatened by recession, deregulation, and ease of trade barriers [5].

Japan is one of the largest importers of farm products, and its record-low food self-sufficiency contradicts the many agricultural fields that lay idle [13]. More local sourcing through cooperatives would be beneficial.

“The most important and useful alternative to resolve a deadlock of fiscal policy and social policy by the governments is to develop the social economy sector” [3, p.263]

 social economy.jpeg

“The humanization of labor also is considered as the way toward the self-realization of individuals.” [3, p. 262]

Japanese culture includes a strong sense of mutual obligation and loyalty and a collectivist way of relating to others. Even for small and usually, in Westerner contexts, independent small businesses, there exist most often some business alliances (Dana, 1998). These cultural specifics may speak for a naturalness of cooperation to Japanese individuals and organizations. On the other side, also in Japan, there are tendencies towards more individual lifestyles and the desire for improved work-life balance (Ishizuka, 2002). The former possibly a negative aspect for community building, the latter speaking for more co-operatively organized work.

“It is ironic that the countries who have fared best in industrial and economic development are now facing a crisis in personal care, particularly for the elderly.” [7, p. 199]

 elderly care

Japan’s care situation is worse than in comparably wealthy nations, for example in Europe. Governments’ positions are still referring to welfare to be provided by the family, private employers, and today increasingly also by voluntary organizations. However, the daughters who used to care for their parents are entering the corporate workforce too, and only one-third of the corporate workforce is having access to the system. Japan faces the challenge of a high need for welfare services while keeping low taxation rates. The relegation of welfare services to non-profit organizations (NPO) and cooperatives is one strategy taken [7].

The capitalist economy is increasingly using women in its drive for profits but chooses to ignore the burden of reproductive work which they carry. [7] 

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In fact, the super-aging Japanese society has an aging rate of more than 25% (i.e., every fourth person is 65 years or older, with most extreme situations in rural farming communities [13]). Japan lacks enough doctors [8] while the hidden asset of family welfare is not available anymore as women are absorbed by their work life and corporate careers [9].

“It is deeply worrying that youth are unable to find regular jobs for decades after graduating from school. They are called the lost generation, and many call themselves freeters (‘free part-timers’), as they look for miscellaneous part-time jobs.” [1]

youth unemployment

Although criticized by neo-liberal voices, the Japanese lifetime employment has led to comparatively low unemployment rates: while for heads of households it was 3%, for the rest of the family it was more than 8%, and unemployed people are increasingly becoming more extended term cases. Long-term employment offers are decreasing while non-standard jobs are on the rise [11]. More than half of all female workers of any age were already in 2009 non-regular workers, usually cheap part-timers, which is a peculiar characteristic of the Japanese labor market [1].

Women call for more “independence” and “self-reliance” and therefore decry the discriminating Million Yen Wall that is incentivizing women staying at home. [12]

Care cooperatives such as the Fukushi Club are often the only possibility for women with elderly parents to find some work [7]. Another reason for women being forced to work part-time is the fact that few jobs are paying more than $20,000 to woman over 35. And, a tax wall set at $10,000 means that it financially doesn’t pay off to earn $20,000 because all earnings above $10,000 are going to taxes of some form. There seems to be nothing on the Equal Employment Opportunity legal horizon that is likely to change the wide salary differentials between men and women of the same age and education level [12].

“Japanese company-ism has been destroying gradually the relations among persons in the family and the community by obliging adult males to spend most of their waking hours at work.” [3]

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Company-ism on the one hand side and contract work on the other have led to decreased job satisfaction [11]. Employee participation program intended to address that problem were far from enabling more democratic working environments and are already outdated again [3]. Worker cooperatives can be an excellent answer to the call for a system that makes it easier to establish businesses responsive to the needs of citizens.

Acting on symbols like ‘help’ without their being explicitly differentiated from the work itself is a condition of smooth cooperative operation. [14]

Leadership issues have harmed cooperatives and their reputation overall. For example, there were legitimate accusations of management incompetence [3]. It is vital to manage cooperatives well and to foster full democracy in the organization [5]. If the democratic decision and economic participation right is seen as a common good that cannot be taken away, for example, even not in case of fluctuating performance, there the behavioral problem of free-riding arises. Therefore, proper management of cooperatives includes leadership using symbols such as ‘help’ instead of monitoring methods that are often rejected by the employees, and which is building the moral community with perpetuating pro-social values enabling cooperation [14].

 

References

[1] Kitazawa, Y. (2010). Japan’s lost decades and a women-led socio-solidarity economy. Development, 53(3), 416-420. doi:10.1057/dev.2010.46

[2] Knowledge-based view of corporate strategy. (2007). Strategic Direction, (5), doi:10.1108/sd.2007.05623ead.003

[3] Ishizuka, H. (2002). The Social Economy Sector in Japan. Annals Of Public & Cooperative Economics, 73(2), 241.

[4] Jentzsch, H. (2017). Abandoned land, corporate farming, and farmland banks: a local perspective on the process of deregulating and redistributing farmland in Japan. Contemporary Japan – Journal Of The German Institute For Japanese Studies, Tokyo, 29(1), 31-46. doi:10.1080/18692729.2017.1256977

[5] Klinedinst, M., & Sato, H. (1994). The Japanese Cooperative Sector. Journal Of Economic Issues (Association For Evolutionary Economics), 28(2), 509.

[6] Dana, L. P. (1998). Small but Not Independent: SMEs in Japan. Journal Of Small Business Management, 36(4), 73-76.

[7] Lord, A., & Mellor, M. (1996). Women and the cooperative provision of care: the example of the ‘Fukushi Club’ in Japan. Economic And Industrial Democracy, 17(2), 199-220.

[8] Iguchi, S., Niwayama, M., & Takahashi, H. E. (2015). A conference report of the interprofessional satellite symposium in Uonuma, Japan: an international exchange on the future of community care. Journal Of Interprofessional Care, 29(3), 284-287. doi:10.3109/13561820.2014.966541

[9] Kurimoto, A. )., & Kumakura, Y. ). (2016). Emergence and evolution of co-operatives for elderly care in Japan. International Review Of Sociology, 26(1), 48-68. doi:10.1080/03906701.2016.1148341

[10] Market Monetarist. (2017). The scary difference between the GDP deflator and CPI – the case of Japan. Retrieved from https://marketmonetarist.com/2012/11/06/the-scary-difference-between-the-gdp-deflator-and-cpi-the-case-of-japan/

[11] Nogawa, S. (2012). The Great East Japan Earthquake and a Future Vision for Labor Law in Japan. Japan Labor Review, 9(4), 105-123.

[12] Marshall, B. (2006). Japan’s worker co-operative movement into the 21st century. Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, (23),

[13] Kimura, A. H., & Nishiyama, M. (2008). The Chisan-Chisho Movement: Japanese Local Food Movement and Its Challenges. Agriculture And Human Values, 25(1), 49-64. doi:http://dx.doi.org.liverpool.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10460-007-9077-x

[14] Marshall, R. C. (2003). The culture of cooperation in three Japanese worker cooperatives. Economic And Industrial Democracy, 24(4), 543-572.

Cooperatives in Japan (Article Series): Overview

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English articles about different types and industry sectors of cooperative organizations in Japan remain somewhat limited and represent scattered knowledge that would benefit from interlinkage. The series of articles in hand that I have published to the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium builds on a literature review that has proven useful in contributing to the creation of a holistic contemporary picture of the cooperative landscape in Japan.

Japan is known for its cooperative tradition. Indeed, roughly one-third of Japanese households belong to co-op’s [1]. The articles in this series aim to distill the lessons learned from this success, but also to identify further potential to grow the historically relatively very small market share of cooperative enterprises. The article series comprises of 4 parts that are logically sequenced, and each is covering one of the following topics:

The articles always put the situation of the Japanese co-ops back into the broader context. Cooperatives are part of the social economy (if that should be a meaningful definition at all) and overall market and society in large. Especially worker cooperatives provide for a fairer system through democratic values at the workplace, and it is essential to look for ways how to increase the influence on not only the social agenda but also on the progress of a State and economic future that cares for all [2].

Conclusions

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 [5].
  • 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 [4]. 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 [4].
  • 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.

 

References

[1] David, D. (2012). Toward Contemporary Co-operative Studies: Perspectives from Japan’s Consumer Co-ops. Canadian Journal Of Nonprofit And Social Economy Research, Vol 3, Iss 2, Pp 104-105 (2012), (2), 104.

[2] Ishizuka, H. (2002). The Social Economy Sector in Japan. Annals Of Public & Cooperative Economics, 73(2), 241.

Learning from and For Life Transitions

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It remains a challenge to explain how individuals transition from one goal cycle to the other [1]. But this is a relevant question in lifespan development. Life course theory conceptualizes series of events respectively transitions in life [2]. While there are many terms to describe life transitions (e.g., turning points, momentous events, etc.), there seems to be agreement that transitions are about major life changes [3].

Life changes can be school transitions, life events such as parenthood, migration [4], or retirement [9]. These normative events mostly are experienced positively; there are also unexpected and involuntary events that are perceived more negatively though [3]. In other words, transitional phases potentially present opportunities and uncertainties [4]. It is difficult to disengage from prior goals and commit to new ones, as goals stand for a hoped future and consequently also support psychological well-being [5]. Cultural and societal changes can trigger change, but there is also increasing variability in developmental journeys within societies and generations as people exercise agency, i.e., taking conscious decisions to initiate and go through life course transitions, be it as an adjustment to the current social environment or not [6].

Learning helps to cope with stress from life transitions [7] while going through transitions conceptualized as experiencing disequilibrium and stability adds to psychological resilience [8]. Seen it that way, transitions naturally involve chance, choice, and change, all interlinked to trigger, enable, and result in personal development and growth.

Photo credit: LaughingRaven (pixabay.com)

References

[1] Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Schulz, R. (2010). A motivational theory of life-span development. Psychological Review, 117 (1), 32–60.

[2] Alwin, D. F. (2012). Integrating Varieties of Life Course Concepts. Journals Of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences And Social Sciences, 67(2), 206-220.

[3] Svob, C., Brown, N., Reddon, J., Uzer, T., & Lee, P. (2014). The transitional impact scale: Assessing the material and psychological impact of life transitions. Behavior Research Methods, 46(2), 448-455. doi:10.3758/s13428-013-0378-2

[4] Syed, M. (2017). Identity integration across cultural transitions: Bridging individual and societal change. Journal Of Psychology In Africa, 27(2), 105-114. doi:10.1080/14330237.2017.1301675

[5] King, L. A., & Hicks, J. A. (2007). Lost and Found Possible Selves: Goals, Development, and Well-Being. New Directions For Adult And Continuing Education, (114), 27-37.

[6] Flaherty, M. G. (2013). Age and agency: Time work across the life course. Time & Society, 22(2), 237-253. doi:10.1177/0961463X12455598

[7] Carragher, L., & Golding, B. (2015). Older Men as Learners: Irish Men’s Sheds as an Intervention. Adult Education Quarterly, 65(2), 152-168. doi:10.1177/0741713615570894

[8] Henning, P. B. (2011). Disequilibrium, Development and Resilience Through Adult Life. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 28(5), 443-454. doi:10.1002/sres.1108

[9] Merriam, S. B. (2005). How adult life transitions foster learning and development. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 2005(108), 3.

Circular Causality of Global and State Self-Esteem

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The traditional self-esteem paradigm does not take into account sufficiently the idea of bottom-up causality from state self-esteem (e.g., contextual academic achievement, social status, and appearance) to trait self-esteem (i.e., global self-esteem; e.g., a relatively stable personality characteristic, such as narcissism). This is problematic as it cannot explain, and is contradicted by, many studies showing that development throughout the lifespan is influenced by state self-esteem and self-experiences.

Continue reading Circular Causality of Global and State Self-Esteem

Attachment and Moral Development Theory

mathias-sager-attachment-moral development

Summary

This essay evaluates whether “the fundamental problem of social psychology is the moralization of the individual by the society” (McDougall, 1908 as cited in [1], p.8). Also, how does attachment theory permeate aspects of human (and ecological) relationships [2], and how are emotional, moral, and identity development and personality theory aspects intertwined? Finally, implications are suggested regarding factors that have the potential to influence attachment style throughout the lifespan and across cultures.

Attachment Theory

According to John Bowlby’s attachment theory, a child develops a secure attachment style from experiencing availability and sensitivity from primary caregivers. In contrast, caregivers who are unavailable or insensitive cause a child developing insecure attachment, and abuse and threat lead to so-called disorganized attachment styles comprising of anxious and avoidant types [3]. Secure attachment style enables better relationships with oneself and others [3]. The preferred view of a natural need for a mother as the foundation for the traditional nuclear family that was propagated by the mid 20th-century society became challenged by Harlow’s experiments. Laboratory monkeys perished when deprived of their parents, but given a surrogate caregiver, they survived without a biological mother; they developed antisocial behavior due to the ‘machine-mother’s’ over-availability though [4]. Harlow found also that peer relationships (e.g., playmates) allowed monkey infants to survive maternal deprivation or abuse, while the absence of peer experiences left them psychologically damaged [4].

Attachment styles and their effects

Attachment style is predictive of health-promoting behavior, whereas insecure attachment increases the probability of engaging in unhealthy behavior, such as risky sexual relationships, substance abuse, and poor diet [5]. Avoidant attachment prevents an individual from effective socialization, communication, and problem-solving [6]. Individual differences in mindfulness in adolescence can be traced back to early childhood background [7]. A positive (vs. harsh, controlling, or uninvolving) parenting style is associated with lower relational aggression [8]. Secure attachment is predictive of seeking help and consequently getting support [9]. Collaboration, companionship, and support from classmates, co-workers, and family affect emotional processes that are decisive in academic success, which is especially challenging in intercultural environments with differing motivations and socio-emotional competencies. A student’s connection to the school determines school success [10]. Social and emotional learning (SEL) can strengthen self-esteem, competence, and social inclusion that is supportive of the social and emotional health of youth [10]. For adolescents, new close friendships satisfy age-appropriate attachment needs [11]. The importance of high-quality peer attachment in adolescence is reflected by its negative correlation with exposure to violence [12] and depression that often impacts later romantic relationships [11].

Adult relationships and social bonding

Both child-parent and romantic partnerships follow a process from pre-attachment to a goal-corrected partnership [13]. This bonding development towards a secure base is possible without secure attachment style of the partners. A couple defines each other as primary origin of support, whether this is effective or not [13]. Romantic relationships may compensate for insecure attachment and related adverse developmental consequences; therefore, a secure partner’s behavior may directly alleviate an avoidant or anxiously attached partner’s concerns [14]. Attachment in adulthood is also related to Hirschi’s Social Bonding Model. One’s attachment to norms as established by a workplace could be measured by job satisfaction that was found to be predictive of rule-breaking ideation and toleration [15].

Moral development

Is morality the result of socialization from child-rearing, education, and promotion of norms? Lawrence Kohlberg with his influential research on moral development from the 1960s onwards provided evidence that already young children care about the needs and suffering of others and take spontaneous action to help [16]. An indirect relationship between moral reasoning and attachment theory exists regarding secure attachment being favorable for cognitive development [17]. Early social relationships foster empathy [18], which might be important for moral behavior. A 7-month-old child’s lowered attentional bias toward fearful facial expressions and the resulting less intensive engagement with the social contact was found to be predictive for lower attachment security at the age of 14 months [19]. An infant’s egocentrism has to be seen as a cognitive inability to coordinate own and others perspectives [20]. Promisingly, instructions can positively stimulate the reaching of higher moral levels [21]. Kohlberg’s successive stages of moral development range from stage 1 that is guided by fear of punishment or seeking reward up to stage six that represents an independent and overarching orientation of moral principles [15].

Factors influencing attachment and moral development

Attachment style was reported to be modestly associated with some personality traits [22]. Lonely persons might have a less positive stance towards others, what can reinforce their insecure attachment style [23]. However, personality factors such as temperament and genetics are incapable of predicting attachment [19]. Women suffer more from avoidant attachment style than male in their romantic partnerships [24]. There is, however, no gender difference in moral perspectives evidenced [15]. Religion and culture, though, can be influential on attachment orientation [6].

Emotion regulation training proved to be positively impacting attachment when targeting self-esteem as the primary reason for insecure attachment [6]. When relationship difficulties are impeding self-worth with negative influences on secure attachment, the risk for anxiety and depression increases [22]. Social anxiety mediates attachment [25], why therapies addressing anxiety work well for insecure attachment treatment [26]. Insecure attachment has been successfully addressed by attachment-informed therapy promoting positive group relationships, e.g., in the context of substance abuse to substitute inter-personal relations [27]. Motherhood itself can strengthen a mother’s self-esteem and therefore help her improve her attachment security [28]. More than a third of people who grew up without a clear sense of belonging to a particular culture experience difficulties in establishing intimate friendships, but they use their shared transnational lifestyle to bond with others [29]. Social orientation, compliance, self-control, and self-esteem are seen as preconditions for moral development [30], which are, at the same time, factors that are necessary for the healthy growth of individuals in general too.

Photo credit: loilamtan (pixabay.com)

References

[1] Kohlberg, L. (2008). The development of children’s orientations toward a moral order: I. Sequence in the development of moral thought. Human Development, 51(1), 8-20. doi:10.1159/000112530

[2] Rubinstein, G., Tziner, A., & Bilig, M. (2012). Attachment, Relationship Quality and Stressful Life Events: A Theoretical Meta-Perspective and Some Preliminary Results. Revista De Psicologia Del Trabajo Y De Las Organizaciones, 28(3), 151-156.

[3] Barnes, R., & Josefowitz, N. (2014). Forensic assessment of adults reporting childhood sexualized assault: A lifespan developmental analysis. Psychological Injury And Law, 7(1), 18-33. doi:10.1007/s12207-014-9185-z

[4] Vicedo, M. (2009). Mothers, machines, and morals: Harry Harlow’s work on primate love from lab to legend. Journal Of The History Of The Behavioral Sciences, 45(3), 193-218. doi:10.1002/jhbs.20378

[5] Bekaroglu, E., & Özlem, B. (2017). The Relationship Between Attachment Styles, Emotion Regulation Strategies, and Health-Promoting Behaviors: Extreme Sports Participants Versus Non-Participants. Journal Of Clinical Sport Psychology, 11(2), 89-106.

[6] Tayebeh, R., Aliye, S., Morteza Modares, G., Saeed, V., Toktam, K., & Shadi, S. (2016). Effects of Emotion Regulation Training on Attachment Style of Primiparous Pregnant Women with Insecure Attachment. Journal Of Evidence-Based Care, Vol 6, Iss 1, Pp 19-28 (2016), (1), 19. doi:10.22038/ebcj.2016.6709

[7] Pepping, C. A., & Duvenage, M. (2016). The origins of individual differences in dispositional mindfulness. Personality And Individual Differences, 93130-136. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.05.027

[8] Kawabata, Y., Alink, L. R., Tseng, W., van IJzendoorn, M. H., & Crick, N. R. (2011). Maternal and paternal parenting styles associated with relational aggression in children and adolescents: A conceptual analysis and meta-analytic review. Developmental Review, 31240-278. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2011.08.001

[9] Moran, P. (2007). Attachment style, ethnicity and help-seeking attitudes among adolescent pupils. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 35(2), 205-218. doi:10.1080/03069880701256627

[10] Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432.

[11] Gorrese, A. (2016). Peer Attachment and Youth Internalizing Problems: A Meta-Analysis. Child & Youth Care Forum, 45(2), 177-204.

[12] Heinze, J. )., Zimmerman, M. )., Cook, S. )., Wood, E. )., & Dumadag, A. ). (2017). Friendship Attachment Style Moderates the Effect of Adolescent Exposure to Violence on Emerging Adult Depression and Anxiety Trajectories. Journal Of Youth And Adolescence, 1-17. doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0729-x

[13] Sochos, A. (2014). Couple Attachment and Relationship Duration in Psychotherapy Patients: Exploring a New Methodology of Assessment. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 42(2), 138-153.

[14] Bradford, A., Burningham, K., Sandberg, J., & Johnson, L. (2017). The Association between the Parent–Child Relationship and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: The Roles of Attachment and Perceived Spouse Attachment Behaviors. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy, 43(2), 291-307. doi:10.1111/jmft.12190

[15] Donleavy, G. (2008). No man’s land: Exploring the space between Gilligan and Kohlberg. Journal Of Business Ethics, 80(4), 807-822.

[16] Turiel, E. ). (2008). The development of children’s orientations toward moral, social, and personal orders: More than a sequence in development. Human Development, 51(1), 21-39. doi:10.1159/000113154

[17] Reimer, K. (2005). Revisiting moral attachment: Comment on identity and motivation. Human Development, 48(4), 262-266.

[18] Thompson, R. (2012). Whither the Preconventional Child? Toward a Life-Span Moral Development Theory. Child Development Perspectives, 6(4), 423-429.

[19] Attention to Faces Expressing Negative Emotion at 7 Months Predicts Attachment Security at 14 Months. (2015). Child Development, (5), 1321. doi:10.1111/cdev.12380

[20] Boom, J. (2011). Egocentrism in moral development: Gibbs, Piaget, Kohlberg. New Ideas In Psychology, 29(Special Issue: Cognitive Robotics and Reevaluation of Piaget Concept of Egocentrism), 355-363. doi:10.1016/j.newideapsych.2010.03.007

[21] Kohlberg and Piaget: differences and similarities. (1991). Journal of Moral Education, (1), 47.

[22] Surcinelli, P., Rossi, N., Montebarocci, O., & Baldaro, B. (2010). Adult Attachment Styles and Psychological Disease: Examining the Mediating Role of Personality Traits. Journal Of Psychology, 144(6), 523-534.

[23] Trémeau, F., Antonius, D., Malaspina, D., Goff, D. C., & Javitt, D. C. (2016). Loneliness in schizophrenia and its possible correlates. An exploratory study. Psychiatry Research, 246211-217. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2016.09.043

[24] Barry, C., Madsen, S., Nelson, L., Carroll, J., & Badger, S. (2009). Friendship and Romantic Relationship Qualities in Emerging Adulthood: Differential Associations with Identity Development and Achieved Adulthood Criteria. Journal Of Adult Development, 16(4), 209-222.

[25] Manes, S. )., Nodop, S. )., Altmann, U. )., Gawlytta, R. )., Strauss, B. )., Dinger, U. )., & … Willutzki, U. ). (2016). Social anxiety as a potential mediator of the association between attachment and depression. Journal Of Affective Disorders, 205264-268. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.06.060

[26] Ravitz, P., McBride, C., & Maunder, R. (2011). Failures in interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): factors related to treatment resistances. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 67(11), 1129-1139. doi:10.1002/jclp.20850

[27] Fletcher, K., Nutton, J., & Brend, D. (2015). Attachment, A Matter of Substance: The Potential of Attachment Theory in the Treatment of Addictions. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(1), 109. doi:10.1007/s10615-014-0502-5

[28] Buchholz, E. S., & Gol, B. (1986). More than playing house: A developmental perspective on the strengths in teenage motherhood. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 56(3), 347-359. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.1986.tb03468.x

[29] Jang, J. (2010). Transnational Student Identity Development through the Cosmopolite Lens: Benefits and Challenges of Straddling Cultures. Vermont Connection, 31136-146.

[30] Berkowitz, M. W., & Grych, J. (1998). Fostering goodness: Teaching parents to facilitate children’s moral development. Journal of Moral Education, 27, 371–391.

7 WRONG Reasons/Excuses for Why We Cannot Change for a Better Cooperative Economic System

1 – We shouldn’t complain about capitalism, if we use it

I heard this mean argument recently. Did we choose to be born into that system? That’s like telling the unfortunate living in smog; they shouldn’t complain about the polluted air if they breathe it.

breathing capitalism

2 – Communism isn’t better than capitalism

Did I say anything about communism? I’m talking about Cooperativism. Co-ops can be for profit. The same business models as today can be run democratically. The only difference would be that profits are not exclusively going to a handful of investors valuing short term profits over long-term employment, but would be re-invested into the company and its people who create the value of the organizations with their daily work. Aren’t many of today’s corporations branding themselves as being cooperating, socially responsible, caring for the community? Why then don’t we get a share and vote then? Because that would be the true meaning of community.

cooperatiism as alternative

3 – We cannot treat people equal

Yes, and no. Again, I am not talking about a system without performance-based incentives. We all learn in sports how to be fair losers.

Value creation has to be re-defined. Today, helping rich people avoid taxes is rewarded generously while cleaning up a the dirty environment, caring about weak and sick people, and helping a hungry child has to be done largely as unpaid volunteering.

Humans are relatively equal; there is no reason to make racial differences. The differences that matter are made by external circumstances, such as education, support, and fair treatment. Different talents and ambitions are fine though. Co-op members can democratically determine what efforts are incentivized in what way.

similar and different

4 – Governance by the people ends in chaos

Like in a state democracy with millions of citizens too, a cooperative membership for efficiency reasons can vote for major decisions only, and elects a representation for managing the enterprise. The good thing is, the management would act on behalf of the members (workers, consumers, producers, etc. who are actively involved and interested in the organization in the long-term) rather than on behalf of profit-maximizing outside shareholders.

your vote is your voice

5 – Cooperative decisions are too slow

Of course, a dictatorship may provide for faster decisions. Have you already campaigned dictatorship? Who would you currently choose? Ah, sorry, we don’t have a saying in that.

Feasibly administering elections and voting is possible. As a Swiss, I know what I’m talking about.

democracy or dictatorship

6 – People don’t want to engage

With a balance between responsibilities, accountabilities, and competencies (!) people are willing to assume all of these. Also, a cooperative would educate for active citizenship rather than investing into advertising and luring people into passive consumerism. Cooperative values motivate to engage for individual and collective well-being.

consumerism

7 – We cannot change it

A couple of dozens of people own the wealth of half of the world population. 1% percent own the same wealth as the rest 99%. The net worth of the world’s billionaires increased from less than $1 trillion in 2000 to over $7 trillion in 2015, so the gap between rich and poor is growing up dramatically.

The rich are worried more and more as their oligarchic power increase becomes more obvious to more people. It looks like they think only a global war will hinder the awakening of the masses and defend their illegitimate privileges.

The current world order is keeping the majority of people poor and uninformed enough, or happy enough so that they don’t take action. War will serve the same end.

We can change it, if we spread the word for workplace democracy and support the cooperative movement. The five firms worth most and extracting most value/profit are all IT/Internet businesses (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft). Maybe it’s not too late to claim back in minimum the virtual world with its increasing real effects on our daily life and the future of our children. (Please see https://mathias-sager.com/category/growth-enablement/initiatives/products/)

keep out

Fathers: More than a playmate

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There may be two primary caregiver roles: one of a secure haven and one of exploration and discovery. These functions are not gender-specific though. Across different cultures, fathers who are alone with their children show similar behavior as mothers. Dual attachment offers the opportunity for children to build sensitive relationships with their fathers too, which is important for their development throughout life. Awareness should be increased regarding the risks and (socio-cultural) barriers that exist about fathers’ family involvement. 

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Erroneous Scoping

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Most of us have heard about the misery existing in many parts of the globe. 3.5 billion people live at $2.5 a day. According to UNESCO, every day 22,000 children die because of poverty. Why is it so easy to forget that? Good people end up by concluding that we do our best we can, because “we have it good here,” and we must be given credit for the care we provide to our families, communities, parties, and regions. Really, is that it?

In our Western “developed” societies we enjoy global services, we read international news, and we travel to most distant places. We imagine danger lurking from other continents and from people of other races. Although popular media’s priority is not to educate us on real issues, we still get enough information between all the advertisement and distraction that gives us in minimum a clue how to complete the picture around our feeling that there may be something wrong. So why are we still ignoring or forgetting the overwhelming exploitation, destruction, and poverty in our earthly neighborhoods though?

I rarely hear overt statements trying to explain the suffering of people in poor environments with their individual laziness, stupidity, or own made weak education. So, it seems we are capable of understanding and caring, but with a rather narrow scope when it comes to admitting where help is needed most from our own side. But again, nobody would hustle to provide an already rich with even more unnecessary luxury when confronted with the decision whether to help a dying child instead, right? And yes, there were enough resources to keep all bellies sufficiently filled. The wealth of a couple of dozens of dynasties equaling the worth of around half of the world’s population indicates that it isn’t a natural law that we already lucky ones would need to starve too to feed the 1 billion children who live in severe poverty in our modern times.

I have found and tested over time a scoping model that clarifies what it means to be truly human(e) and how we can identify erroneous scoping and re-focus ourselves feasibly on the combinations of time-relational dimensions that are the ground for developing universal human clear-, fore-, and farsightedness.

The intra-past: In contrast to using history for legitimizing inter-personal (-national, etc.) conflicts, the past is where we can come to terms with ourselves, i.e., understanding your psychological and spiritual world. Take the lessons-learned, but forgive and move on.

The inter-present: ‘Living in the present’ is good advice for interdependent (vs. independent or dependent) relationships. Rather than relating to others in a transactional way as we are so much taught economically, don’t expect anything in return for your love and don’t sell your soul for what you don’t unconditionally mean.

The extra-future: If we define ourselves not just as how much we consume and amass regarding material and financial wealth but as what we intend to achieve for the next generations to come, we evolve from a liability to wise heroes. Sadly, many elderly are honored mainly for their economic status. There is never a better moment than now to sow the seeds for a healthy future for all by being guided by values of equity and sustainability.

If you scope your human being and becoming that way, you will inevitably get your view cleared up to a panoramic horizon that sets free your full human potential. Follow these ambitions and your doubts will vanish soon. We don’t need to abstain from the progress we were born in as some mean arguments of the sort of “Don’t complain about capitalism if you use it” want to impose guilt on us. However, we are only guilty at humanity if we are not constantly trying to innovate, change, and commit for a better future for all. Better conditions for even more people are possible. We might find a lot of such examples that we are enjoying right now, which our grandparents did not yet (i.e., achievements like advanced democracies, improved gender and racial equality, etc.).

What’s in for you when you engage in finding better solutions for all? What’s in for you if not material gain, especially not in the short-term? A deep satisfaction and fulfillment, motivation to get up and do important work, and compassion and love from being close to what really matters: service to humanity, including the well-being of our children and their children. The world needs every one of us! Now! Enjoy!

Boosting Self-esteem to Help Trusting Others Too

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Attachment theory is critical in analyzing personal characteristics and relational behaviors across the lifespan [1] (see also article “Different Types of Attachment and Socio-emotional Development Throughout the Lifespan“). Bowlby’s findings that individuals construct internal representations of the self and others that serve as guidelines on how to behave in social interactions [2] might indeed have an association with self-esteem as self-esteem is integral to how somebody feels about oneself [3].

Research provides evidence that higher self-esteem positively influences friendships as well as attachment (trust) to parents and school [3]. The mediating role of self-esteem for friendship attachment was also already confirmed earlier [4]. The positive effect of increased self-esteem on secure attachment may also favor mental health and subjective well-being [5]. Similar to self-esteem, adult attachment orientation was also found to be connected with emotional intelligence [5].

On the other side, attachment experiences themselves turned out to be decisive for individuals’ positive self-perception, attachment style links to self-esteem [1]. People with personality Type D tend to sense more negative emotions and obstacles to social relationships. While reported 52% of this personality trait are inherited, self-esteem might be a more easily amenable environmental factor capable of influencing Type D personality and the related insecure attachment behavior [1]. From that perspective, despite the strong influence of early attachment formation and genetic dispositions, there are possibilities for corrections towards individuals’ more secure attachment throughout life, i.e., through more trust a more intimate and happy life.

Photo credit: suju (pixabay.com)

References

[1] Huis in ’t Veld, E. M., Vingerhoets, A. J., & Denollet, J. (2011). Attachment style and self-esteem: The mediating role of Type D personality. Personality And Individual Differences, 50(Special Issue on Anxiety (dedicated to the memory of Professor Blazej Szymura), 1099-1103. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.01.034

[2] Kang, Y., Lee, J., & Kang, M. (2014). Adult attachment styles, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms: A comparison between postpartum and nonpostpartum women in Korea. Personal Relationships, 21(4), 546-556.

[3] Kocayörük, E., & Şimşek, Ö. F. (2016). Parental Attachment and Adolescents’ Perception of School Alienation: The Mediation Role of Self-Esteem and Adjustment. Journal Of Psychology, 150(4), 405-421.

[4] Bosacki, S., Dane, A., & Marini, Z. (2007). Peer relationships and internalizing problems in adolescents: Mediating role of self-esteem. Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties, 12(4), 261-282. doi:10.1080/13632750701664293

[5] Xu, L., & Xue, Z. (2014). Adult attachment orientations and subjective well-being: Emotional intelligence and self-esteem as moderators. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 42(8), 1257-1265.

Attachment Theory Applied to Social Media Interactions

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Content:

  • Ubiquitous social media
  • Attachment style predicts social media use
  • Social media’s role in dating relationships & Social media addiction
  • Self-expression and branding in social media
  • Violent content and cyberbullying
  • Conclusion: Risks & opportunities

Continue reading Attachment Theory Applied to Social Media Interactions

Different Types of Attachment and Socio-emotional Development Throughout the Lifespan

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An infant requires a stable establishment of relational trust that is nourished by positive emotional and social connections with a primary caregiver (e.g., father, mother, or grandparent, etc.). Attachment types, such as the healthiest secure attachment style, determine the socio-emotional development and how someone manages social relationships across the lifespan. Differences in parenting and resulting attachment styles need to be put into cultural perspective. Secure attachment at any age can be promoted to support individuals in the achievement of their full potential of well-being and personal growth.

Continue reading Different Types of Attachment and Socio-emotional Development Throughout the Lifespan

Integrating Eastern Philosophies, Transpersonal Theories, and Phenomenological Approaches into Developmental Lifespan Psychology

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Content:

  • Universalities and Cultural Differences.
  • Closing Holes in West-centric Researches.
  • Eastern Philosophies and Transpersonal Psychology.
  • Expanding Consciousness and Phenomenological Ways of Knowing.

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After World War III

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Pursuit of wealth and power > World War III > Peoples’ recovery and counter movements > Ineffectiveness of old distraction strategies > World citizenship > Manifestation of the next human evolutionary step

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