Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

Dissertation of Ilona Banaszak

Success and Failure of Cooperation in Agricultural Markets. Evidence from producer groups in Poland
Start: 2002
End: 2007
The research presented in this book investigates the success and failure of cooperative arrangements functioning in agricultural markets. We focus on Polish organizations called producer groups. These groups carry out functions similar to agricultural cooperatives. The performances of the groups were found to be highly disproportionate. Some groups were operating very successfully in the market, others were operational but not performing their main tasks, still others had failed completely and had been disbanded. Producer groups are only one possible way of organizing transactions between farmers and purchasers of their products. Another method is direct exchange or exchange through a middleman. Once farmers enter a producer group their choices and actions become interdependent. Under certain conditions those farmers who break the group rules might earn more. We discuss factors that may contribute to the formation of successful organizations in terms of their competitiveness with other structures in the market and ensuring their members’ loyalty. The theoretical predictions are tested on quantitative data from 62 producer groups operating in the Wielkopolska Province. The analysis shows that variables related to group governance are the most significant for the groups’ performances. In particular, leadership and choices taken at the beginning of the cooperation, related to the selection of members and group constitution, are crucial and determine the ensuing operational activities. This link, however, in some cases was neither fully recognized by the agricultural extension service nor the farmers interviewed. The problems associated with institutional design and redesign of cooperative organizations call for further attention.
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn