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The Evolution of Institutions in the Malian Cotton Sector: An Application of John R. Commons's Ideas


  • Veronique Theriault
  • James Sterns


Applying John R. Commons's institutional economic framework, this paper analyzes the evolution of key institutions in the Malian cotton sector, starting with Mali's independence in 1960 to the ongoing market-oriented reforms in the 2000s. In accordance with Commons's economic theory, institutional changes in the Malian cotton sector have led to both intended and unintended consequences, impacting economic performance at the farm, gin, and state levels. This has, in turn, contributed to the emergence of new limiting factors. At present, lack of adequate technical advising, indebtedness, issues related to input access, discordance between farmers and their union leader representatives, unreasonable seed cotton prices, delays in payment, and low cotton yields are the current limiting factors to desired economic performance. Based on these findings, we draw policy recommendations for revitalizing the Malian cotton sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Veronique Theriault & James Sterns, 2012. "The Evolution of Institutions in the Malian Cotton Sector: An Application of John R. Commons's Ideas," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(4), pages 941-966.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:46:y:2012:i:4:p:941-966
    DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624460406

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    Cited by:

    1. Ollenburger, Mary H. & Descheemaeker, Katrien & Crane, Todd A. & Sanogo, Ousmane M. & Giller, Ken E., 2016. "Waking the Sleeping Giant: Agricultural intensification, extensification or stagnation in Mali's Guinea Savannah," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 58-70.
    2. Smale, Melinda & Kergna, Alpha O. & Theriault, Veronique & Assima, Amidou & Keita, Naman, 2016. "Gender, generation and cereal crop intensification in Mali," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235544, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Tschirley, David L. & Theriault, Veronique, 2013. "On the Institutional Details that Mediate the Impact of Cash Crops on Food Crop Intensification: The Case of Cotton," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 151263, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Theriault, Veronique & Tschirley, David L., 2014. "How Institutions Mediate the Impact of Cash Cropping on Food Crop Intensification: An Application to Cotton in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 298-310.

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