Cooperatives vs. Outside Ownership
AbstractWe are concerned with the design of a constitution for a firm -- an ex ante contract which assigns residual rights of control (and possibly residual income rights) without reference to the issue to be decided. We focus attention on two polar constitutions: nonprofit cooperatives and outside ownership. In the former, ownership is shared among a group of consumers on a one member, one vote basis. In the latter, all control rights and rights to residual income are allocated to an outsider. Ex post, agents are assumed to have asymmetric information, which rules out recontracting. We have two main results. First, in the case of perfect competition, an outside owner achieves the first-best; a cooperative typically does not because the rent from any cost advantage relative to the market is used to shield members from competitive pressure, and the median voter's preferences may not reflect average preferences. Second, in the case where the members of a cooperative have common preference orderings they unanimously vote for the first-best; an outside owner typically makes inefficient decisions, tailored to the marginal rather than to the average customer.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6421.
Date of creation: Feb 1998
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Other versions of this item:
- Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Cooperatives vs. Outside Ownership," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1816, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2004. "Cooperatives vs. Outside Ownership," ESE Discussion Papers 114, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
- Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Cooperatives vs. Outside Ownership," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 346, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
- D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
- G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
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