The Management of A University CO-OP.

1990 OKAYASU Kisaburo
National Federation of University Co-operative Associations



What Shoud the co-operatives do? what are its goals? Confronting these of questions is at the foudation of our top management's responsibilities. Without firm goal nothing can be begun; nothing can be accomplished.

How can we fully take advantage of the resources at our disposal? this has become one of the more important challenges our management faces today. Among our resources our people are most important and are in a category separate in kind from our financial assets and insormation system. It is only natual that an organization built by people and composed of peolpe shoud have its future determined by people. Accumulating know-how essential for successful business, passing this information on to other, and developing it --all of this can only be found in one's rich human resources.

As businesses get bigger it becomes increasingly important to carefully consider the organization's "SYSTEM." In every bussiness one can recognize a distinctive "SYSTEM." We believe that in addition to being managed by a "SYSTEM", it is necessary to allow for management and control of a "SYSTE." If the "SYSTEM" is also acted upon it will not be able to fulfill its function of supporting the workers.

Good management has no manual. Principles and Creativity-management does have these and must rely on them.

University Co-operative's General Director (or Manageing Drector)

Each University Co-operative has a full time, non-student nor teacher managing position. It consists of following:

a) General secretary responsibilities
b) Chief exective responsibilities

If students or teachers were to take on responsibilities of managing the co-operative, thier job would consist of only the general secretary responsibilities. A separate "Operating manager" position would have to be carried out by someone outside the university. Although in the rest of the world the breakdown of co-operative management into two positions is the norm, in Japan the two positions are found only among the small scale co-operatives. In co-operatives abroad the person in the top managing position is usually given the title "general manager." this general manager is often cosen by a Board of Directors(BOD) and is responsible for budget matters. in this way responsibilities for developing policies and the budget on one hand and management on the other are separated. In some co-operatives, the general manager is allowed to become a member of BOD as a representative of the management employees. In Japan, alhtough ther have been many changes through the years, at present, the general manager of a co-operative does not belong to its BOD.

Board of Directors

Each member of the Board of Directors has a contact with its co-operative. Each director is chrged to work toward meeting the objectives of the co-operative through diligence and faithful service. Because members of the co-operatives contribute money to thier organizations, one of the more important responsibilities of a director is to run the co-operatives efficiency. Laws regulationg co-operatives in Japan are closely observed to make sure a small group within the organiztion or the directors do not decide on important issues to thier benefit only.

Becuase the co-operatives are business organizations, financial assets are held by them. Staff of the co-operatives, and especially the dorector, are charged with the responsibility to protect these financial assets. The reponsibility is an important one for if these assets are lost the co-operative as independent organizations with cease to exit.

The Board of Directors' function is improve the quality our organization by exercising thier responsibility and authority to represent the thinking of all our members. This requires continuos hard work.

The general directir also acts a general secretary. In this capacity he/she takes into consideration members' request and then suggests posible topics for debate at the Board of Directors meetings.

Top Management's Responsibilities

The General Director is the Captain of a Ship

decides the goals decides destination if not....the ship is not launched
decides policy navigates if not....accident occur
action now moves from the present spot if not....there is no propelling power
few staff few crew member a lot has be taken care of by yourself
period of change turbulent waters he has to lead strongly and build a reliable staff

Responsibilities for Doing the Everyday, Routine Business

In the past, the general director thought nothing of taking on everyday, routine responsibilities. The full burden of whether the co-operarives would be viable in the future fell on his shoulders. Today, however, your average co-operative members see the general director as a more distant official, responsible for only heavier, leadership tasks. In contract, the members see those everyday jobs now being delegating to store management and staff.

Unfortunately the average member thinks that thier demands are not often heard at the highest levels and their view of the co-operatives' staff and general director's heaviest responsibilities is to measure exactly to what extend the members are thinking "well of cause its all bad" or alternatively, "well the co-operatives are pretty good." The general directir must figure-out how best to more the co-operatives in the direction of latter.

The general director must make sure that instead of changing the character of the co-operarives to match with that of his/her own personality he/she makes every effort honestry reflect the character of the co-operatives as a representative at the highest level should.

Responsibilities of the Chairperson/President and General Director Compared

In contract to the general director, president's responsibilities only involve the relation of the co-operatives with other business and the outside communuty. The president has only a few responsibilities concerning the internal running of the co-operatives. In any organization a position like this necessary. Our co-operatives appreciate the importance such a position is to improving awareness of our social responsibilities.

As a professor, and therefore deeply involved in the academic community, the president is equipped to position his/her co-operative in its relationship with the university community so as to best complement it. Indeed, this is where most of his/her responsibility lies. The general director, as a regular staff member of his/her co-operative, concerns himself/herself more with the relationship with co-operative members and with the question of how to best manage the organization.

It goes without saying that barring any extraordinarily circumstances beyond his/her control, the general director is responsible for making sure the co-operative does not go into debt. When such extraordinary circumstances do confront the co-operative, such as a client company suddenly bankruptcy, cleanly recognized as such. Often it is difficult to pinpoint exactry where responsibility lies and the question of blame comes down to whether to assign more weight to the "accident or to bad management and lack of thoroughness and circumspection in carrying-out policies. Of course the general director must not try to hide behind the excuses of "accidents beyond our control" or attempt to cutdown the reach of his/her reponsibility.