How do we promote "Cooperation Among Cooperatives" when our clients are putting us in competition?

The 6th coöperative principle is:

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

At Autonomic, we understand this “working together” to mean avoiding competition with other coöps, and choosing coöps over corporate providers for our own and our clients’ services, wherever possible.

It’s difficult enough doing that at all, when most of the world is desperately competing with each other, but it’s extra-tricky when prospective clients are putting us directly in competition.

We’ve now had multiple experiences where there’s been an open tender, and we’ve either suspected or confirmed that other CoTech coöps were invited to submit proposals.

We managed to turn a couple of these into successful collaborations, but we’re really unsure how to handle these questions in general, and we’re wondering what others are doing.

And, we hit a specific situation recently where a coöp is asking for proposals from multiple coöps to replace their existing service provider… who’s also a coöp :scream:

It seems that there’s maybe an intrinsic conflict between this principle 6, and competitive tender processes.

We/I can understand where organisations are coming from – especially ones who have it written into their rules that they need to seek multiple quotes to go ahead with any paid services, or for groups who aren’t coöperatives and so don’t really care about that principle – but it seems like if we followed the logic of those processes as intended then we’d effectively be giving up on that principle, and in a competitive death-struggle with our comrades.

  • How do you promote coöperation with other coöps, and/or other CoTech members, in competitive tendering processes?
  • What do you do, if anything, if you find out that you’re in a competitive selection process with other coöps, and/or CoTech members?
  • Do you have any guidelines on handling situations where an existing provider you would be replacing is a (CoTech?) coöp?
  • Do you have procurement policies, or other rules, about preferring coöp options? e.g. preferring us, Webarchitects, etc. over, or even recommending Nextcloud (which can be coöperatively-run) over Google Drive (which obviously can’t)?
  • What about a situation where organisations don’t agree about partnering up? E.g. coöp X and coöp Y both hear about a project which either of them could do solo; X offers to partner up but Y isn’t down.
    • If you were X, would you still go for the project in competition with Y?
    • If not, is there any way that CoTech could recognise and reward your commitment to supporting other coöps?
    • If so, any advice on how to avoid this becoming a Standard Capitalist Competitive Hellscape?

All good questions!

But I’m very distracted by you using ö all over the place whenever you write coop/ coops/ cooperative :stuck_out_tongue:

Why? :slight_smile:

This is wildly off-topic, but I think I’d just be embarrassing to make a separate thread about my writing style :stuck_out_tongue:

A diaeresis goes over the second vowel and indicates that it forms a separate syllable. Most of the English-speaking world finds the diaeresis inessential. Even Fowler, of Fowler’s “Modern English Usage,” says that the diaeresis “is in English an obsolescent symbol.”

… we use the diaeresis for the same reason that we use the hyphen: to keep the cow out of co-workers.

Basically, we have three options for these kinds of words: “cooperate,” “co-operate,” and “coöperate.” …
The Curse of the Diaeresis | The New Yorker

“cooperate” (and particularly “coop”) makes me think of chickens :chicken:, and “co-operate” seems like too long a pause…

Join us next time, for more missives from the Society for the Preservation of Rare Punctuation‽


and coöperation has a long history: see e.g.


Hey @3wordchant

Just wanted to acknowledge your questions and it is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Going to need to think a bit more before I reply, but it is an important one to get right, especially if we decide to deepen the relationships in CoTech which will inevitably bring up these issues more often.