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The Dovenschmidt Quarterly

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Issue 4, 2014 Expand all abstracts
Editorial

Access_open Guest Editorial

Special Issue on Cooperatives

Authors Ger J.H. van der Sangen
Author's information

Ger J.H. van der Sangen
Dr Ger J.H. van der Sangen is Associate Professor Company Law and Securities Law at Tilburg Law School, Department of Business Law, and senior fellow of the Tilburg Center for Company Law.
Article

Access_open How to Regulate Cooperatives in the EU?

A Theory of Path Dependency

Keywords cooperative law, company law, EU harmonization, business form, governance
Authors Ger J.H. van der Sangen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, the phenomenon of path dependency has been addressed in view of the harmonization of cooperative law in the EU. The question is raised whether and how the legislative harmonization has an impact on co-operators in their efforts of setting up and maintaining efficient cooperative organizations and whether in this respect the Statute for the European Cooperative Society (hereinafter: SCE) is a helpful tool to facilitate the enhancement of national statutes on cooperatives as well as to provide the legal infrastructure to facilitate cross-border cooperation amongst and reorganizations of cooperatives in the EU.
    The case for the cooperative as a viable business form gained momentum in the EU policy debate with the development of the SCE Statute in 2003, the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis in 2008 and with the endorsement of the cooperative business concept by the United Nations and the International Labour Organization in 2012. If the sound development of cooperatives as an alternative legal business form vis-à-vis investor-owned firms is considered a policy instrument to enhance societal business activities – notably in the field of agriculture and social economy – it raises the question how cooperatives should be regulated to fulfil their function in this respect.
    The key argument presented in this article is that due to strong tendencies of path dependency a top-down approach of EU law-making was and is not a feasible option. The cooperative as a multifaceted institution requires a multifaceted approach taking into account the historical legislative developments of distinctive jurisdictions as well as the historical economic development of cooperative organizations in their specific jurisdiction. However, the existence of path dependency and the lack of regulatory arbitrage as well as regulatory competition prevent the market from generating efficient model statutes for cooperatives taking into account the specific needs of cooperatives and their co-operators.


Ger J.H. van der Sangen
Dr Ger J.H. van der Sangen is Associate Professor Company Law and Securities Law at Tilburg Law School, Department Business Law. He was part of the research team of the EU-funded project Support for Farmers’ Cooperatives. He would like to express his gratitude to all the members of the research team for sharing their insights and discussions during conference meetings in Brussels (November 2011 and 2012) and in Helsinki (June 2012), in particular J. Bijman, C. Gijselinckx, G. Hendrikse, C. Iliopoulos and K. Poppe.
Article

Access_open The Essential Role of Cooperative Law

Keywords comparative cooperative law, organizational law, mutual purpose, cooperative identity, social function
Authors Antonio Fici
AbstractAuthor's information

    The idea that cooperative law is essential for the development of cooperatives is not new, but only lately is it spreading rapidly within cooperative circles and urging representative entities of the cooperative movement to take concrete actions. Also in light of this renewed interest towards the cooperative legal theory, this article will seek to demonstrate that recognizing and protecting a distinct identity based on a specific purpose constitute the essential role of cooperative law. The article will subsequently discuss, also from a comparative legal perspective, the nature and essence of the cooperative purpose and some related regulation issues.


Antonio Fici
Professor of Private Law at the University of Molise and of Comparative Cooperative Law at the L.U.M.S.A. of Rome.
Article

Access_open Ownership, Governance and Related Trade-Offs in Agricultural Cooperatives

Keywords investment constraints, collective decision-making, organizational complexity, agricultural cooperative, residual ownership rights
Authors Constantine Iliopoulos
AbstractAuthor's information

    Agricultural cooperatives represent a key institutional arrangement in the world food and agriculture industries. Understanding these business organizations by adopting multi-disciplinary perspectives serves both scholarly and societal needs. This article addresses two issues: (1) how agricultural cooperatives choose from a plethora of ownership and governance features and (2) what are the main trade-offs cooperatives face in making these choices. Both issues have important implications for the efficiency of collective entrepreneurship organizations in food supply chains and thus for food nutrition security and food quality. The article proffers observations based on the extant literature and the author’s field experience. It is concluded that agricultural cooperatives choose ownership and governance features in an attempt to attract risk capital for investments while optimizing collective decision-making efficiency. The main trade-offs that cooperatives address while making these choices are between (1) investor mentality and member-patron control, (2) organizational complexity and vagueness of ownership rights, (3) the need for risk capital and member control, (4) organizational complexity and member control and (5) management monitoring costs and the costs of collective decision-making. These observations are highly relevant for organizational scholars, cooperative practitioners and policymakers as they inform decision-making in cooperatives in more than one way.


Constantine Iliopoulos
Dr. Iliopoulos is the Director of the Agricultural Economics Research Institute and Adjunct Professor at the Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Greece. E-mail: iliopoulosC@agreri.gr.
Article

Access_open Transnationalization of Agricultural Cooperatives in Europe

Keywords agriculture, agrifood, cooperatives, internationalization, transnationalization
Authors Jos Bijman, Perttu Pyykkönen and Petri Ollila
AbstractAuthor's information

    Agricultural cooperatives in Europe are increasingly expanding beyond their home countries. A number of these cooperatives have become transnational cooperatives, which means that they have members in more than one country. Examples can be found particularly in the dairy and fruit and vegetables industry. This article presents an overview of the recent internationalization and transnationalization processes among agricultural cooperatives in Europe and is the first academic publication that provides empirical data on cross-border membership. The article discusses the pros and cons of having members in several countries, as well as the different trajectories along which cooperatives may become transnational. Transnationalization entails substantial challenges for the member-cooperative relationship due to differences in culture, language, legislation and business practices. The professional management usually prefers an internationalization strategy above a transnationalization strategy. While further internationalization of agricultural cooperatives is expected, foreign membership will continue to be a major challenge for boards of directors.


Jos Bijman
Dr. Jos Bijman, Management Studies Group, Wageningen University.

Perttu Pyykkönen
Dr. Perttu Pyykkönen, Pellervo Economic Research PTT, Helsinki.

Petri Ollila
Dr. Petri Ollila, Department of Economics and Management, University of Helsinki.
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