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The Cooperative Housing International Good Governance Test

The purpose of the Governance Test is to provide a means for housing co-ops affiliated with CHI to measure their standards of governance and to help them develop a good governance action plan to improve governance in weaker areas.  CHI intends it to be a high-level questionnaire that will be useful to as many housing coops as possible.

The Co-operative Housing International Good Governance Test builds on the 2012 CHI Good Governance Charter. It draws on two Canadian sources; the CHF Canada’s Good Governance Charter and The Agency for Co-op Housing’s Governance Questionnaire. To obtain a copy of the test please email

Content and Structure

There are 32 test “questions” in the form of statements, in 4 categories, covering:

  • members of the governing body
  • the governing body itself
  • the members of the co-op
  • the co-op itself

The test does not directly parallel the Charter but it builds on it and includes questions that directly and indirectly test the different aspects of governance performance. The spreadsheet creates a governance “deficit” chart and a governance action plan based on low scores.

The test questions

The test questions cover these broad elements of good governance:

  • the co-operative principles
  • training and education
  • the role and duties of governance the role and duties of governance
  • democratic functioning
  • accountability and transparency

They test the following issues:

The members of our elected governing body:

  1. are familiar with the international cooperative principles
  2. understand and fulfill their duty of care and loyalty to the co-operative
  3. use good sense and their best skill in guiding the cooperative’s business
  4. hold themselves to a high standard of ethical conduct
  5. understand and avoid conflicts of interest and loyalty
  6. attend meetings regularly
  7. receive training and advice in their duties
  8. prepare well for meetings and contribute actively to the discussion
  9. understand the difference between management and governance
  10. are respectful of their colleagues and avoid interpersonal conflicts
  11. respect decisions made democratically by the governing body
  12. respect and protect confidentiality when business matters require it

Our elected governing body:

  1. holds regular, well-attended meetings
  2. receives meeting materials in advance, allowing its members to prepare properly
  3. trains its members in co-operative governance principles
  4. sets strategic priorities and plans
  5. measures the co-op’s progress against the plans it sets
  6. regularly evaluates its performance and the performance of management
  7. makes sure the co-op follows its own rules and all laws and regulations that apply to it
  8. calls meetings of the members of the cooperative at regular intervals
  9. reports to the cooperative’s members regularly and transparently
  10. promotes renewal through open and fair elections and an active nomination process
  11. seeks expert advice when needed

The Co-operative’s membership

  1. comes out to members’ meetings meetings
  2. is familiar with the co-operative movement and the Statement of Co-operative Identity
  3. understands the role of the cooperative’s governing body
  4. participate in the democratic functioning of the co-op
  5. avoids factionalism and takes steps to build a unified community,

The Co-operative

  1. is open and inclusive in accepting new members
  2. is democratically controlled by the members
  3. provides education and training to the members on cooperative matters
  4. values and protects its independence and autonomy from government
  5. belongs to and participates in the broader co-operative movement

How it works

Responses are scored on a 4-point sliding scale:

  • strongly agree (4)
  • agree (3)
  • disagree (2)
  • strongly disagree (1)

Scores of 2 or lower are flagged for action and can be used to create a good governance action plan.

It is a flexible tool that can be used by:

  • governance body members, individually or collectively
  • selectively by the co-op’s members, individually or collectively

The results can be combined or kept separate for comparison and the test itself can be customized to meet local/regional needs.

Elements of the spreadsheet

The spreadsheet is a multi-part Excel workbook and includes screens to identify participants, take the test, view composite and individual scores, chart the governance deficit and automatically list action items where scores are 1 or 2 out of 4.  It is macro-enabled to create the questionnaire and score screens based on the identified participants, create the action plan and chart the “governance deficit”.

Governance Global
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