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An economic history of the Champagne contracts, lessons for regional development


  • Jean-Baptiste Traversac


  • Hervé Lanotte


This paper highlights the success factors of the governance of the Champagne supply chain. Scholars on economic organisation stress the role of the contractual enforcement to explain the stability of the economic exchanges and the ability of the economic and political actors to foster their own development (NORTH 1999). Our contribution detailed explicit and implicit mechanisms related to the vinegrower-merchant relations in the regional system. The Champagne region had the particularity to posses a double-head organisation, regrouping all the farms and firms involved in the agronomic, and commercial process of the regional wines. This private board is supported by an institutional environment, common market organisation, French rural acts, and national and international legislations on geographical indication. These legislatives and administrative components define precisely the productive and market rules. Rely on a longitudinal approach we reinterpret the way the interprofessionnal (general) agreement, essential part of the governance of the regional market, evolved during decades (BARRERE 2003). This rereading illustrates the interdependency between explicit and implicit enforcement mechanisms which foster the cooperation. We argue that asymmetric investments in advertising play a major role in the stability of the regional cooperation. The achievement of the reputation of the AOC Champagne by massive advertising and commercial investments mainly realised by the negociants is central to understand the convergence of both party strategies on a long term. These investments step in as catalyst of a negotiated environment and award the self-enforcing character of the contracts. It makes efficient the set of private arrangements and regulatory mechanisms designed to eradicate opportunistic behaviours. During all the second part of the 20th century, the form of the contractual agreements evolved. Governance tools were added and suppressed. However these forced or desired adaptations slightly alter the nature of the cooperative process. The flexibility of the private arrangement, as well as the comprehensive economic policy, ensures the durability of the general agreement in spite of crisis. These results backup the hypothesis of the new institutional economics on the necessity of complementary institutions to make the market efficient (AOKI 2001).

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Baptiste Traversac & Hervé Lanotte, 2011. "An economic history of the Champagne contracts, lessons for regional development," ERSA conference papers ersa11p1145, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p1145

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. André Torre, 2006. "Collective action, governance structure and organizational trust in localized systems of production. The case of the AOC organization of small producers," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 55-72, January.
    2. Gil, Ricard & Marion, Justin, 2009. "The Role of Repeated Interactions, Self-Enforcing Agreements and Relational [Sub]Contracting: Evidence from California Highway Procurement Auctions," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt66z0w84p, University of California Transportation Center.
    3. Armelle Mazé & Claude Ménard, 2010. "Private Ordering, Collective Action, and the Self-Enforcing Range of Contracts. The Case of French Livestock Industry," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00624288, HAL.
    4. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211-211.
    5. Kingston, Christopher & Caballero, Gonzalo, 2009. "Comparing theories of institutional change," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 151-180, August.
    6. David, Paul A., 1994. "Why are institutions the 'carriers of history'?: Path dependence and the evolution of conventions, organizations and institutions," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 205-220, December.
    7. Douglass C. North, 2005. "Introduction to Understanding the Process of Economic Change," Introductory Chapters,in: Understanding the Process of Economic Change Princeton University Press.
    8. Armelle Mazé & Claude Ménard, 2010. "Private ordering, collective action, and the self-enforcing range of contracts," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 131-153, February.
    9. Claude Ménard & Peter G. Klein, 2004. "Organizational Issues in the Agrifood Sector: Toward a Comparative Approach," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(3), pages 750-755.
    10. Searle, John R., 2005. "What is an institution?," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 1-22, June.
    11. Sergio G. Lazzarini, 2004. "Order with Some Law: Complementarity versus Substitution of Formal and Informal Arrangements," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 261-298, October.
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