Liivimaa Üldkasulik ja Ökonoomiline Sotsieteet kui innovaatiline ühistegevusorganisatsioon
The Livonian Society as an Innovative Cooperative
The Livonian Public Welfare and Economic Society evolved into a hotbed of innovative cooperative relationships between the cultural and political powers developing the territories of what are now Estonia and Latvia. Its joint action campaigns connected enlightened estate owners, top scientists, representatives of power, later also members of other classes.
The Society became a bridgehead in integrating science, economy, education, and culture in the 19th century. Projects beneficial to public welfare in the economic sectors of Livonian agriculture, trade, industry, traffic, insurance, finance, and the cooperative networks of societies promoting them arose from the manors’ need to develop. The Fund of the Society became the grounds for the scientific and economic cooperation in Livonia. The Riga merchant P. H. Blanckenhagen who had personal connections with Tallinn donated a remarkable fortune – 40,000 Albertusthalers – for establishing the Society (this was later supplemented by interests, yearly payments and donations). Back then, that sum was the cash equivalent of more than 3,250 oxen. The election of 12 authorized persons from the ranks of the then elite for administrating the Society was equally important. It later enabled financing scientific and economic projects of personal initiative (triangulation of Livonia, compilation and publication of an atlas of Livonia, levelling of Saaremaa and Livonia, creation of a network of weather observation points,
development of an agricultural research centre) the cost of which often exceeded the main capital of the Society several times over.
Many cooperative scientific and economic projects that have lasted in time belong to the innovative heritage of the Society – including Struve Geodetic Arc, initiated during the triangulation of Livonia, the only research based item in the UNESCO World Heritage List from the Baltic states.
On the 220th anniversary year of the Society and the International Year of Cooperatives of 2012, the historical heritage of the Society enabled one to raise the issue of the viability of such an innovative cooperative model in the 21st century market economic society full of crises.
Developing forms of permanent cooperation that unite large entrepreneurs, top scientists, leaders of big local government units has again become painfully relevant. In Latvia and Estonia, the output might be a Livonian Forum rooted in the idea of the Society.