Organizational Issues in the Agrifood Sector: Toward a Comparative Approach
This paper outlines a research program comparing the economic organization of agriculture in the United States and European Union. Both have highly developed agricultural sectors but their organizational arrangements vary widely. Comparative analysis not only provides a broad set of firms and industries to compare, but also highlights the interaction between the institutional environment and the arrangements established to govern agricultural transactions. We first assess the common trend toward consolidation and vertical integration, turning next to the economic organization of formal and informal networks. While history and path dependence explain some of the variety among U.S. and European practices, other local conditions are important as well. We conclude by assessing the policy implications of recent changes in economic organization.
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