Our Team

Our team presents... interviews with the team members

 

EPISODE 6: PIETER STEENBERGEN 

Hi! Can you share a little bit of your background?

I have been a volunteer in the research team since 2017. In that year, I ended my nearly 40-year career in education. After my studies at the teacher training college, I studied social economic history. I have mainly taught general economics (high school and teacher training) and have also been a schedule maker, department leader and staff officer. After my retirement, I wanted to combine my acquired skills with research in economic history. A conversation at the University of Utrecht brought me into contact with Tine De Moor and the ICA team. My biggest hobby is making long journeys by bike (including coast to coast in USA).

 

What is your role in the ICA-team?

As a volunteer, I am mainly indirectly involved in the work of the team. I attend the meetings and think along about the developments in the team. I also contribute to the database that the team is continuously building, by providing the data gathered during my research.

 

What are you currently working on?

My study focuses on the historical development of consumer cooperatives in the Netherlands. The research focuses on the inventory of the characteristics of these cooperatives and on the factors that determine the consumer cooperative. I use macro data on the one hand and five case studies of cooperatives over a total period of 150 years on the other.

 

What do you wish to accomplish in the next year?

The emphasis this year will be on writing a book about the history of Coop Netherlands. In addition, it is important to make the data from my research accessible and to include it in the database of the ICA team.

 

Curious to see more information about what Pieter is working on? Or do you want to get to know the other team members? Then please have a look at www.collectievekracht.eu and www.collective-action.info. Next month, we will introduce Marianne Groep-Foncke.

 

Episode 5: Max de Vriend 

Hi! Can you share a little bit of your background?

By covering the basics of all disciplines of business while studying International Business Administration (BSc.) at Radboud University, from accounting to ethics to marketing, I rather quickly developed a profound interest in the broader role of business in society – where purpose and impact are the driving factors of business rather than profit. As such, I found my way to the Global Business and Sustainability (MSc.) program at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) during which I developed an interest in societal questions around sustainability, social enterprises, and political philosophy. In my master thesis, I adopted a multi-disciplinary approach crossing the traditional boundaries of a business school by conducting normative research on the moral limits of markets, and in particular the international carbon market. I greatly enjoyed this experience and, consequently, my eyes had been opened to pursue a career at the RSM. Besides work, I love to cook (Asian dishes, mostly), play piano, read thrillers, and participate in obstacle runs.

 

What is your role in the ICA-team?

Since April 2021, I hold a position in the Social Enterprise and Institutions for Collective Action research team – first as a research/project assistant and currently as a project coordinator for CollectieveKracht

 

What are you currently working on?

Broadly speaking, I am currently working on the development of the CollectieveKracht. CollectieveKracht is a knowledge-sharing platform for citizen collectives and all stakeholders involved (scientists, financial institutions, network organizations, civil servants). My job entails a variety of tasks, including organizing digital and on-site events, managing new registrations, responding to questions and connection requests, improving the digital infrastructure of the platform, and attending public events. Not a single day is the same!

 

What do you wish to accomplish in the next year?

Related to CollectieveKracht, my plan is to organize great events and to develop several tools, in collaboration with our scientific and societal partners, that are of direct added value to citizen collectives. On a more personal note, I hope to improve my jazz piano skills so that by the end of the year I can intuitively improvise (and it still sounds alright).

 

Thank you, Max! We wish you all the best with your work.

 

Episode 4: Damion Bunders 

Hi! Can you share a little bit of your background?

I studied sociology (BSc. and MSc.) and urban geography (MSc.) at Utrecht University, during which I developed an interest in societal questions around digitalization. After that, I worked for a little over a year as a junior-lecturer in human geography and spatial planning at Utrecht University, where I also obtained my basic teaching qualification. My previous research was about adolescents’ social media behavior and delinquency, and about the problematization of data-driven practices and scales of policymaking in Dutch smart cities.

 

What is your role in the ICA-team?

Since November 2018, I am a PhD candidate in the Institutions for Collective Action research team – first at Utrecht University and from December 2020 at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. For my dissertation research, I study the challenges that gig workers face when organizing in a platform cooperative. More specifically, I look at platform cooperatives as one institutional approach for organising decent work in the gig economy by analyzing the social dilemmas that cooperatives of gig workers must overcome to become resilient. Just as economists have long wondered why firms are usually controlled by capital suppliers instead of by labor suppliers, my PhD project addresses the puzzle of why platforms are not more commonly owned and governed by workers.

 

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a paper about member participation in the decision-making of platform cooperatives. A classic explanation for the rarity of labor-managed firms relative to capital-managed firms holds that under efficiency pressures they would fail either in economic terms or degenerate away from workplace democracy. Yet, the digital organization of platform cooperatives could potentially lower democratic transaction costs – thus making voice behavior easier for all kinds of members. I test this claim using survey research and find that differences in motivation, but also certain inhibitors of voice behavior persist.

 

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

My plan is to study the rules that platform cooperatives use to coordinate both productive and shirking behavior of worker-members. More specifically, by using the Institutional Grammar in a document analysis I want to analyze how rules have changed in such a cooperative during the COVID-19 pandemic, considering that demand for collective resources likely increased whereas income streams decreased. Next to that, I want to explore additional data collection opportunities.

 

Thank you, Damion! All the best with your work.

 

Episode 3: George Varthalamis 

Hi! Can you share a little bit of your background?

After a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology at the University of Peloponnesus, I attended a master's in Business Administration (MBA in Agribusiness) held by the Agricultural University of Athens in 2020. During my master's, I came to realize the role that agricultural cooperatives can play in the agri-food sector. My thesis analyzed the life cycle of a Greek dairy cooperative. I am familiar with analyzing case studies and conducting field applied research. Moreover, after my master's, I co-founded a non-profit organization, which aims to help farmers cooperating with each other and running their collective-action businesses.

 

What is your role in the ICA-team?

Since October 2021 I’m a research intern in the research team Institutions for Collective Actions, focusing on the analysis of life cycle theory and conducting literature reviews. Currently, I’m writing a literature review on the life cycle of agricultural cooperatives.

 

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a paper trying to understand better the life cycle theory and how it can improve the longevity of agricultural cooperatives. For this purpose, I’m collecting secondary data regarding the life cycle theory, conducting interdisciplinary research. Furthermore, I have been helping the team of ICA with the secondary bibliography databases.

 

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

Gaining all the experience from my internship, and combining my research interest in agricultural cooperatives, I want to expand my knowledge on organizational structure and governance in cooperatives. Also, I want to complete my two-year seminar in the systematic and dialectical approach, which will be very helpful for me as I pursue to work with groups of people that are members of collective-action businesses and cooperatives. Furthermore, I’m seriously considering to apply for a Ph.D. position in the forthcoming months, to bring my research on agricultural cooperatives on a higher level.

 

Thank you! We wish you all the best with your work.

 

Episode 2: Coline Serres 

Hi! Can you share a little bit of your background?

After a master’s degree in Management with a specialization in social and solidarity economy at Montpellier Business School (France), I undertook a PhD in Management Sciences at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium). My doctoral work focused on the governance mechanisms of for-profit social ventures, both in general and when governing common goods.

 

What is your role in the ICA-team?

Since September 2021, I have joined the Institutions for Collective Action research team as a Postdoctoral Researcher. I mostly conduct research on ICAs, but also coordinate and teach a course in the MSc Global Business & Sustainability of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

 

What are you currently working on?

I am working on the UNICA project, which aims to develop a unified theory for the development and resilience of ICAs for Europe in the past millennium. It’s a really interesting project where we aim to conduct a longitudinal survey of ICAs resilience strategies since the year 1000. We also aim to build a taxonomy of these ICAs over time and place. A lot to do, but all very exciting! Next to that, I have also been working on a book chapter to explain the legal forms available for social enterprises in the Netherlands.

 

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

I hope to master the Dutch social entrepreneurship field by the end of this academic year. It’s so different from France and Belgium (and the rest of Europe to some extent), which makes it really interesting for me to study! I am eager to understand better how social enterprises and governmental institutions interact in the Dutch context. I also hope that we will be done with a big chunk of the ICA taxonomy.

 

Thank you Coline! All the best with your work…

 

Episode 1: Grant Halliday 

Hi! Can you share a little bit of your background?

Yes, I received my BA in History and Economics this past May from Yale University and my senior research there focused on early medieval economic history. Specifically, my senior thesis analyzed grain distribution in Late Merovingian France (ca. 650-751 CE) from an institutional perspective. Thus, I’m familiar with applying institutional analysis to pre-industrial economic history in Western Europe. I am currently in the process of applying to postgraduate programs in economic history for next fall.

 

What is your role in the ICA-team?

I’m a research intern focusing more on the historical research side of things here, mainly in the late medieval/early modern period. Recently, I have been creating secondary literature bibliographies for use by the team as well as locating potentially useful material in archival databases.

 

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a project to study institutions of collective action of fishing in Western Europe. To understand the evolution of these institutions, I’m collecting literature and archives on their creation and operation in the late medieval and early modern period. The key examples of these institutions are the Spanish fishing cofradías (in Catalan, confraries) and the French prud’homies along the Mediterranean.

 

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

Collecting a substantial set of accessible archival sources is the main goal at the moment, with an eye to doing some specific case studies in the coming weeks. That will lay the groundwork for starting a more formal typology and taxonomy, based on the form and function of these institutions. I hope that this can be the basis for integrating the late medieval/early modern fishing collectives into the work of fellow team members on the UNICA project, which you’ll hear more about in the coming weeks! These archives and resources will also be potentially used in an analysis of the specific rules and regulations used by these historical institutions, so I hope to build a framework and the beginnings of a database for that purpose.

 

Thank you! All the best with your work.