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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Governance costs and the problems of large traditional co-operatives

Nilsson, Jerker


During recent decades, there have been many failures among large and complex agricultural co-operatives with a traditional organizational structure, that is, with mainly collective governance and collective ownership. Many co-operatives have been converted into the so-called hybrid co-operatives, owned together with external financiers. This article applies governance cost theory to explain this development. The results show that members are not able to govern a collectively owned firm that is large and complex; members are thus reluctant to invest in co-operatives; and members do not perceive that co-operatives benefit them economically. Thus, strong leaders take control and non-member investors gain ownership and influence.


governance cost; traditional co-operative; co-operative conversion; hybrid co-operative; co-operative governance

Published in

Outlook On Agriculture
2018, volume: 47, number: 2, pages: 87-92

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics

UKÄ Subject classification

Business Administration

Publication Identifiers


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