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    • #8141
      Paul HamesPaul Hames

      I believe that the SWP failed for a number of reasons. In my opinion, the Board lost sight of their responsibility, and consequently were led down a path by management. The Board did not seem to question or to look for other options during their transition. It was an example of ‘rubber stamping”. The strength in the past had been the membership supporting the SWP at local levels. The move to competing as a global player was not well thought through. It would be interesting to know the make-up of the Board at the time and their level of diversity. I do believe other options may have saved SWP…but we will never know.

    • #8144
      Walter PreugschasWalter Preugschas

      For interest sake: Alberta and Manitoba had Co-operative Wheat Pools as well as did Saskatchewan. Alberta and Manitoba Pools merged into a publicly traded company as did SWP in the late 90’s. Later that merged company was bought up by SWP. It shows to me how there was ample turmoil in that industry in the 1990’s a lot of it created by changes in public policy. The need to change was prevalent but the path forward was not easy to see. The points about rubber stamping, board and membership not being ready for such changes, membership being polarized, lack of board diversity, etc and management being in control, I’m sure, are all relevant contributing factors to the demise. Its just easy to sit back now in hindsight and be critical when it was a very difficult and changing time in the history of these grain handling cooperatives.

    • #8152
      Jen BudneyJen Budney

      Paul and Walter, you both make very thoughtful comments here. Paul – the case mentions that the members of the SWP were aging. I think we can presume most members were older men of European heritage — due to the generational homogeneity they would likely have similar perspectives on lots of issues. How does a board tackle the diversity issue when the members themselves lack diversity? Would this be a case where bringing in outsiders would make sense? And Walter, you are absolutely correct that hindsight is 20/20. However, I do know that SWP engaged consultants during this time — including researchers from the Centre for the Study of Co-ops — but the advice they received was not heeded. Murray Fulton, a former director of the Centre, wrote a paper on the SWP case — The Restructuring of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool: Overconfidence and Agency. I’m not sure it’s freely available online – you might be able to download it here —

      If that link doesn’t work for you and you are interested in reading this paper, please send me an email.

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