India 2007 Co-op Questionnaire

Preface: Another thing Seema and I realized this week is that even as people of color, we’ve been so institutionalized by “formal” education that we automatically start our endeavors with the analytical instead of the intuitive. This week we remembered that this is our work, and that we don’t report to anyone but ourselves. Our goal this trip is to develop rapport and heart-level connections with like-minded people who are committed to cooperative ventures, and to learn from their achievements and challenges for the benefit of our CEC endeavor. Below is an interview questionnaire I made up last week, but with Seema’s consensus I’ve decided to return to the ethnographic fieldwork style of my anthropological roots. The questions below indicate themes which are important to us, but instead of using the survey in our meetings we will simply keep these topics in mind as we improvise our way through free-flow conversations. Will be typing up field notes immediately after interactions but will document with film and audio recording devices only when we are certain that they will not be intrusive or interfere with the quality of our interactions.


INTRO: We are starting a workers cooperative in Brazil and are looking for best-practice models. We have were told about your cooperative because it is considered important and successful. We are still making basic decisions about our cooperative, and would like to ask you some questions so we can learn from your experiences.

1. Who started the cooperative?
2. How did the co-op find its other members?
3. Can new people still join the co-op?
4. What are the requirements for membership?
5. How long can members stay in the co-op?
6. How did you all come to agree on a place or product to make?
7. Do former members have a role in your organization?
a) If so, when and how do they participate?

1. How are decisions made in the cooperative about:
a) New members?
b) How money is spent?
c) Leadership selection?
d) Disciplining member misbehavior?
e) Operations (products, place, etc.)?
2. Are decisions made by majority of votes counted or by consensus?
3. Does any one person have the ability to overturn or veto group decisions? Is there a formal leader?
4. Is there a training or mentorship program for new members?
a) If so, who participates?
5. How are members supervised? Do they supervise one another?
6. Do members help each other’s work?
a) Do workers team or form smaller groups and partnerships for certain projects?
b) What work is done individually and what work is done alone?
c) If a member is having problems doing their share, how do they get/seek help?
7. Is there a management hierarchy or system of seniority?
a) If so, how do members move up/ advance through this hierarchy?
8. How is member satisfaction monitored?
a) Is there a procedure for members to discuss grievances or process complaints?
b) If so, how are solutions to these grievances arrived upon?
9. How are conflicts between members resolved?
10. How are innovations and new ideas generated?
11. How often do you all have parties or do fun things together?
12. Are you happier or more satisfied doing this than you would be working for a company?

1. Why do you all think your cooperative is successful?
2. What are three things you all like most about your cooperative?
3. What keeps you motivated to stay here? What motivated you to come to this cooperative as opposed to another?
4. What are three things you all would like to improve or change about your cooperative?
5. Do you have any advice for us about how to keep the members in our cooperative confident and happy?

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