Prof. Dr. Olexiy Khabyuk visited recently the Ukrainian Free University (UFU) in Munich (which is also his second Alma Mater) to explore the literature on business models of the Ukrainian diaspora. The primary focus of his interdisciplinary research is to understand the source of the competitive advantages of the cooperative enterprises, prevalent among Ukrainians in the US and Canada and even Australia (see for example Ukrainian Federal Credit Union in the U.S. with assets exceeding $380 million - https://ukrainianfcu.org/) and why such enterprises could not gain a foothold in Germany.
First findings suggest that the high level of self-organization in post-WWII Ukrainian refugee camps, particularly in economic matters, contributed to the entrepreneur spirit and the emergence of cooperatives.
The cooperative movement existed in Ukraine since the latter part of the 19th century and was brought to the camps by refugees from Western Ukraine. Historical records also support the assertion that due to efforts to repatriate Ukrainian refugees to Germany, many sought immigrations to the US and Canada instead. This migration pattern might have influenced the establishment of Ukrainian-run cooperatives in these countries, providing them by a critical-mass of potential cooperative members and customers.
During his research visit Prof. Khabyuk had also the opportunity to exchange thoughts with the Rector of the Ukrainian Free University, Professor Maria Pryshlak. She provided some personal insights to the research topic: Her family had a history of displacement, having fled from Ukraine to escape the advancing Soviet army, and lived a certain period of time at a fugitive camp in Bavaria before immigration to U.S.
Prof. Pryshlak earned a Ph.D. from the Columbia University. She served as Director of the International Program of Eastern European and Eurasian Studies at Georgetown University. Following her tenure at Georgetown, Prof. Pryshlak served as President of Łazarski University in Warsaw. She has been leading Ukrainian Free University as its rector since 2016. The Ukrainian Free University in Munich is a private university recognized by the Free State of Bavaria.
UFU was founded in 1921 by Ukrainian scholars in exile in Vienna, moved later to Prague and after WWII in 1945 to Munich. It has established itself as a unique academic community, primarily serving students from Ukraine and offering master’s and doctoral programs.
The interdisciplinary research on the competitive advantages of cooperative enterprises in Ukrainian diaspora could contribute to a better understanding of business models in general behind the so-called ethnic/community-based enterprises and refresh the significance of the cooperative model as alternative organizational form, but also support integrational efforts in the current wave of fugitives after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
The researcher extends heartfelt thanks to the Ukrainian Free University, Magnificence Prof. Dr. Maria Pryshlak and Rostyslav Kasianenko from the university's archives for their invaluable support and collaboration during the research visit.