Abstract: The Politics of Commercial Dynamics: Co-operative Adaptations to Post War Consumerism in the U.K. and Sweden, 1950-2010

Katarina Friberg, Rachael Vorburgh-Rugh, John Wilson, and Tony Webster

Abstract

This paper, based on our chapter in the forthcoming collection <em>A Special Kind of Business: The Cooperative Movement 1950-2010...and Beyond</em>, edited by Louis Galambos and Franco Amatori, compares and evaluates the business strategies of the British and Swedish consumers' co-operative movements since 1950. Specifically, it chronicles the experience of two key co-operative organizations&#151;the UK's Co-operative Group (formerly the Co-operative Wholesale Society, CWS) and Sweden's Kooperativa F&ouml;rbundet (KF)&#151;as they faced the challenges of modernization during an era of growing consumer spending power and increased competition from larger, increasingly multinational investor-led retail corporations. We use a cross-national comparison to challenge the common "narrative of decline" often applied to studies of European co-operatives in this period and to explore the impact of internal and external environments on co-operative business strategies.