August 5, 2020

On July 27 2020, the Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins International Institute for Cooperatives awarded the 2020 Award of Excellence for Research on Cooperatives and Mutuals of $500 to Melissa Ziani, for her Master’s supervised project.

The project was selected by a jury including professors and researchers from HEC Montréal, and was carried out as part of the Master of Science in Management Sciences – Management in the Context of Social Innovations.

Summary of the supervised project “Experience of accompanying CIEC animators (collective entrepreneurship initiation cooperatives) animators” by Melissa Ziani 

In the summer of 2018, the Youth Service Cooperatives (CJS) celebrated their 30th anniversary and took the opportunity to develop their mission by transforming themselves into collective entrepreneurship initiation cooperatives (CIEC). This Franco-Canadian initiative aims to introduce teenagers to the cooperative environment by getting them to set up and manage a cooperative during summer vacations.

Concretely, the changes that took place in the summer of 2018 were threefold. First, a change in vocabulary was observed: young cooperators were now called “entrepreneurs” and their leaders, “coordinators”. In addition, the term “collective entrepreneurship” was now used to describe the objective of the educational project. Then, the age of the entrepreneurs who could participate in the project went from 12-17 years old to 14-17 years old. Finally, with regard to the recruitment of coordinators, they now all had to be university students.

This research project focuses specifically on the coordinator, both as a learner and as an educator in the social economy. This project therefore aims to identify and discuss the strategies for appropriation and transfer of cooperative knowledge adopted by the CIEC coordinators in order to provide a partial response to one of the gaps identified in the scientific literature. Moreover, since the coordinators do not necessarily have knowledge of the cooperative environment when they are hired, this project highlights the learning, skills and capacities they developed during the project. Finally, considering that the coordinators are recruited for their ability to lead a group of adolescents, this research mandate also aims to reflect on the particularities of the relationship between adolescents and young adults.

Download the supervised project (in French)

About the author, Melissa Ziani

With a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Montreal, Melissa decided to pursue her studies at HEC Montréal, in order to explore the role of business in the erosion of social relations. Melissa is interested in organizations that contribute to the empowerment of citizens. This is how she discovered the collective entrepreneurship initiation cooperatives project.

Her supervised project allowed her to nurture her interest in social integration practices and associative participation, specific to the cooperative environment, but also to push her reflection further on the relationship between individuals and work within our society. In her opinion, it is essential to reflect on education in the social economy, because it is an environment rooted in the values ​​of those who decide to invest in it. She believes that the learning process must go beyond the theoretical dimension of the classroom in order to take on its full meaning and allow the learner to fully immerse themselves in the cooperative dynamic.