Portuguese social solidarity cooperatives between recovery and resilience in the context of covid-19: preliminary results of the COOPVID Project


Covid-19 posed several challenges to all organisations in general and to social solidarity cooperatives in particular. However, the challenges faced by these cooperatives have unique features arising from their special characteristics compared to other types of cooperatives. Therefore it is vital to study these challenges and the impacts of covid-19. This study has as main goal to understand those challenges and their impact. An exploratory study was undertaken by applying 11 interviews to 11 social solidarity cooperatives. The cooperatives were chosen to be heterogeneous among the existent cooperatives in Portugal. This study corresponds to the first phase of a project that is still underway. This article presents the main results of the content analysis of the data collected from the interviews. Data show cooperatives could promptly adapt and continue their mission under pressure from the pandemic despite the first difficulties encountered in a new and unknown situation, showing a capacity to adapt and serve their members. However, these members were also submitted to several increasing and new challenges. The adaptations were possible due to legal changes in the work organisation law, from layoff to telework, government support involving financial programs, VAT, and other tax relaxation, as well as due to human resources reorganisation and the cooperatives’ staff positive attitude towards the difficulties (both leaders and general workers). Differences between the social solidarity cooperatives under study concerning digital technologies showed that those already having some infrastructure had minor adapting difficulties.

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