Collective Action Through Marketing Boards: an Efficient Hybrid Governance?

Annie Royer (Laval university)
Claude Ménard (University Paris 1)
Daniel-Mercier Gouin (Laval University)

Abstract: Because of their perishable nature on the one hand and the impact of their quality on consumers on the other hand, agricultural products have always raised important problems of coordination and control with high transaction costs. In the agrifood industry, the recent period has registered substantial evolution in devices intended to provide vertical coordination among the various agents of value chains. The most noticeable evolution might be the progressive dismantlement of collective organizations in favor of a contractual approach that would be more compatible with the requirements of a market-oriented policy. In this paper, we revisit the role of marketing boards, mainly through the Canadian experience, more specifically in the Province of Quebec. Examining their nature and their role, we intend to better understand the type of problems marketing boards were trying to face and still do, and their success and failures in terms of an efficient organization of complex transactions with strong asymmetries among partners. We shall argue that their occurrence in very different contexts as well as their resilience is rooted in a relatively successful combination of organizational properties, embedded in their hybrid nature, and institutional legitimacy, thanks to the guarantees they provide.

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