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Competition and Relational Contracts: Evidence from Rwanda's Coffee Mills

Author

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  • Rocco Macchiavello

    (Warwick University)

  • Ameet Morjaria

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

Business transactions often occur in the absence of enforceable contracts. To sustain trade in such cases, parties rely on relational contracts (RC). Introducing competition might change exit options, thus undermining the ability to sustain RC. To examine the impact of competition in procurement of inputs, we exploit the prevalence of RC between processing mills and farmers in Rwanda's coffee sector. We implement a census of all mills and farmers to capture the features of the RC binding them. We then develop a RC model to capture the incentive problems between mills and farmers. The model is used to predict how competition affects RC, the mill's performance, and farmer outcomes. Since the location of mills is endogenous, an engineering model is estimated for the optimal placement of mills to instrument for competition in each locality. We find that competition between mills undermines RC by increasing the mill's processing costs, lowering the mill's capacity utilization and reducing the quality of coffee cherries received by the mill. Competition constraints the farmer's credit and input choices and reduces farmer's wellbeing. The findings highlight that in weak contracting settings, the value RC generates can be hampered by competition. The evidence provides a rationale for policies commonly observed historically across developing countries, such as zoning regulations and monopsony licensing, and emphasizes the importance of promoting contractual enforcement in agricultural value chains in order to reap the benefits of competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Rocco Macchiavello & Ameet Morjaria, 2015. "Competition and Relational Contracts: Evidence from Rwanda's Coffee Mills," 2015 Meeting Papers 431, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed015:431
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Defever, Fabrice & Fischer, Christian & Suedekum, Jens, 2016. "Relational contracts and supplier turnover in the global economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 147-165.
    2. Kramer, Berber & Kunst, David, 2017. "Intertemporal choice and income regularity: Non-fungibility in a lab-in-the-field experiment," IFPRI discussion papers 1646, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Lorenzo Casaburi & Jack Willis, 2016. "Health and skill formation in early childhood," UBSCENTER - Working Papers 018, UBS International Center of Economics in Society - Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Swati Dhingra, 2016. "Piggy-Back Exporting, Intermediation, and the Distributional Gains from Trade in Agricultural Markets," 2016 Meeting Papers 712, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Casaburi, Lorenzo & Macchiavello, Rocco, 2015. "Firm and Market Response to Saving Constraints: Evidence from the Kenyan Dairy Industry," CEPR Discussion Papers 10952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Casaburi, Lorenzo & Reed, Tristan, 2017. "Competition in Agricultural Markets: An Experimental Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 11985, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Marie-Catherine Riekhof, 2016. "The Insurance Premium in the Interest Rates of Interlinked Loans in a Small-scale Fishery," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 16/264, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.

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