Cooperatives and Human Security: A comparative study of two Guatemalan coffee organizations
Huseby, Joe William
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A comparative study of two coffee organizations was conducted in Guatemala. Two organizations of similar size, location and demographics were compared, one organization was a cooperative with workers as owners, and the other is structured as a simple association with conventional worker and owner relationships. The study includes open ended interviews with members of each organization and field observations. Subjects were interviewed in confidential settings and asked about how their civic skills, participation, social capital, group relations and perceptions of other members of society have changed as a result of their participation in each of the two organizations. Results from the study suggest that members of the cooperative organization develop more civic skills and democratic values than the members of the conventional coffee growing association. The members lead more meetings, practice more civic participation, and engage in more activities that have been identified in the literature as developing more democratic skills and values. Similarly, cooperative members appear to develop more social capital than the counterparts in the conventional association. The research indicates the cooperative members engage more of their community more often and in more meaningful ways as a result of their cooperative membership. Finally, cooperative members appear to have a more positive view of other social groups in their political setting as a result of their participation in a cooperative. These measurements are used as a human security assessment method. Limitations of the interview and observation study are discussed as well as recommendations for future research and investigations on development and aid organizational structures that may promote human security in areas impacted by long stemming conflict and under development.