Essays on Cooperatives: Emergence, Retained Earnings, and Market Shares



Cooperatives received significant attention in recent years as an alternative to investor-owned corporations. The objective of a cooperative to advance the interests of its member-owners is appealing from a societal perspective, particularly when comparing it with a profit-maximizing objective of an investor-owned firm.

This thesis focuses on agricultural cooperatives, i.e. on the enterprises collectively owned by farmer-members. It advances the knowledge about a cooperative enterprise in three ways: (i) by conceptualizing and evaluating different patterns of emergence of cooperatives; (ii) by delineating an efficient allocation of decision rights regarding the profit distribution in cooperatives, from a relational contracting perspective; (iii) and by investigating the determinants of cooperative market shares in the European Union.

Chapter 2 models cooperative emergence as a non-cooperative game between two farmers and an outsider.

Chapter 3 formulates a non-cooperative game between the upstream party (farmers) and the downstream party (cooperative management) in a cooperative.
Chapter 4 provides an empirical analysis of cooperative market shares in the European Union.

Lastly, Chapter 5 suggests that, given conceptual similarities of member-owned enterprises, the findings of this thesis contribute to the understanding of the emergence, governance, and market shares of collectively owned organizations outside the agricultural sector.