Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics


FG 986: Structural Change in Agriculture - Sub-project 11: Cooperative and Hierarchical Forms of Institutional Change

Start: 08/2007
End: 07/2010

This Sub-project is part of a “Research Group”, which are collaborating teams institutionalised by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It aims at analysing the complementary and synergist effects of institutional diversity and polycentric governance in processes of structural change in agriculture. The main research question is whether and to what extent the observed increase of diversity of institutions and polycentricity of governance structures can be interpreted as being a result of the choice between institutions and modes of governance with either integrative or segregative impact. This is investigated by the example of genetically modified crops (GMO)., an innovation that is associated with the evolution of cooperative organizations which have established GMO-free regions as well as cooperative relationships between farmers who cultivate GMO-crops. The emergence of institutional diversity and polycentric governance in regions mainly depends on social and natural capital. To vary these characteristics we chose two regions in Eastern and Western Germany because we hypothesize that the communist system in Eastern Germany had a different influence on actors than the pluralistic system in the Western part. Different characteristics of transaction in the case of GM crop cultivation also arise from regional differences in agricultural structures, cropping patterns and soil characteristics which are reflected in the choice of the case study regions. Particular interest lies in the analysis of the development of problem-oriented governance systems which are characterized by high specificity, diversity of its components and linkages between the scales and areas involved. Methodologically we start from the analytical framework Institutions of Sustainability (IoS) and draw upon theories of institutional change, concepts of social capital and governance approaches. Other basic approaches used are the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IAD) together with the concept of Integrative and Segregative Institutions (ISI). The empirical methods include explorative interviews as well as case studies to comprehend the attributes of the transaction and the characteristics of the actors involved in the GMO cultivation areas as well as the reconstruction of relevant decision making situations and negotiation games based on the data gathered before.

Researcher: Nicola Consmüller

Project Partner: see

Lead Overall Project: Prof. Dr. Martin Odening

Lead HU subproject: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn, Dr. Volker Beckmann

Funding: DFG

Project Website: SIAG Teilprojekt 11