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Are Cooperatives Efficient When Membership is Voluntary?

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  • Leathers, Howard D.

Abstract

If profit-maximizing farmers are free to join or not to join a cooperative, it may appear reasonable to assume that a cooperative will exist only when it has cost advantaged over non-cooperative marketing. This paper presents a model in which that result fails. Every individual farmer chooses either to join or not join a cooperative depending on whether transactions costs are lower from cooperative membership or nonmembership. As cooperative membership increases, transactions costs for members decline, but for nonmembers these costs increase. Results of this analysis reveal that an equilibrium exists in which all farmers voluntarily choose to join the cooperative, but more than half of the members wish the cooperative had not been formed, and transactions costs in the aggregate are higher with the cooperative then without it.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Agricultural Economics Association in its journal Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2006)
Issue (Month): 03 (December)
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:ags:jlaare:8628

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Web page: http://waeaonline.org/
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Keywords: cooperatives; transactions costs; Agribusiness;

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  1. Michael E. Sykuta & Michael L. Cook, 2001. "A New Institutional Economics Approach to Contracts and Cooperatives," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1273-1279.
  2. Kostas Karantininis & Angelo Zago, 2001. "Endogenous Membership in Mixed Duopsonies," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1266-1272.
  3. George Hendrikse & Jos Bijman, 2002. "Ownership Structure in Agrifood Chains: The Marketing Cooperative," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(1), pages 104-119.
  4. Claude Ménard & Peter G. Klein, 2004. "Organizational Issues in the Agrifood Sector: Toward a Comparative Approach," Industrial Organization 0401005, EconWPA.
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