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Review of Co-operative Development Scotland


Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) was established in 2005/06 to assist the formation and growth of sustainable co-operative businesses throughout Scotland. The objectives of the review were to: assess the impact of CDS to date against approved targets; review the existing marketplace for CDS; and identify a number of options for consideration by Scottish Enterprise in relation to the future scale and scope of CDS.


The study involved a review of available documentation and data; semi-structured interviews with the CDS Chief Executive, two members of the CDS staff team, six members of the CDS Advisory Board and 19 other stakeholders; and structured interviews with 17 co-operatives that have received assistance.


The report finds that it took longer than expected to establish CDS, and with the benefit of hindsight, the timeframe was overly optimistic. It suggests that CDS has performed adequately and made some achievements: helping to build a better understanding of the scale and economic significance of the co-operative sector; establishing itself as a focal point for support to the sector; bringing increased prominence and attention for the sector and establishing the CDS brand; and testing some interesting projects that have the potential to encourage innovation and growth of the co-operative sector. However it suggests that CDS could and should have achieved more in some respects - in particular, it has not interacted quickly or fully with established forms of business support.


The report recommends continued refinement and refocusing of the work of CDS, rather than wholesale change. It suggests that a number of actions should be considered: prepare a detailed business plan prioritising coordination with established business support services and support to high growth start-ups and priority industries; clarify the segmentation criteria and product offering of CDS and communicate these through a revamped website and other channels; work with partners to form an agreed strategy for increasing cooperative innovation and growth in selected priority industries; an intensive and sustained communications campaign to raise awareness of the co-operative sector among business advisors; review the structure/membership of the Advisory Board; review resourcing levels and staff training needs; agree a revised set of performance targets based on a reduced set of key performance indicators (KPIs); review CDS systems and processes to ensure that they are robust, workable and consistent with Scottish Enterprise requirements; and commission a full economic impact evaluation in two years.

Author Ekos Limited
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Entrepreneurship/new firm formation, Support to existing/growth businesses, Social enterprise