Discussion Papers

In the Request for Proposals, the USDA asked that we conduct research on the "economic impact" of cooperatives, and was explicit about the measures of impact on which we should base our assessment. In essence, the USDA asked that we measure the magnitude of business activity conducted by cooperatives. Although this is a useful starting point, in our proposal we argued that other kinds of impact are also important, perhaps even more important. Measures of business activity do not address the unique contributions of cooperatives, relative to other forms of business organization. In principle, the cooperative ownership structure should lead to distinctive firm-level behavior.

In an effort to identify ways that these "deeper impacts" might be quantified, we set aside funds in our proposal to support a series of competitively sourced discussion papers from the academic community to generate ideas on how we might credibly measure these, and other, impacts in the future. Ultimately, any behavior identified as unique to the cooperative ownership structure will generate the type of impact we seek. In the next section, we discuss how we will use the ideas generated from these discussion papers to continue our research on the economic impact of cooperatives with subsequent rounds of funding.

Here we list the primary author and affiliation of each discussion paper along with a link to their work.

  1. Ethan Ligon, Associate Professor, Dept. and Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley, "Risk Management in the Cooperative Contract."
  2. Philippe Marcoul, Associate Professor, Dept. of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, "Incentive Pay for CEOs in Cooperative Firms."
  3. Brian Mayhew, Associate Professor, Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin, Madison, "Accounting Research on Cooperatives."
  4. Jessican Gordon-Nembhard, Visiting Scholar, Centre for the Study of Cooperatives University of Saskatchewan, "Asset Building through Cooperative Ownership: Defining and Measuring Cooperative Economic Wealth."
  5. Greg Reilly, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut School of Business, "Risk Mitigation Factors Enabling Exploration by Risk-Averse Firms."
  6. Richard Sexton, Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis, "A Evaluation of Cooperatives' Comparative Strengths and Weaknesses in a Vertically Differentiated Agricultural Product Market."
  7. Gordon Smith, Professor, Brigham Young School of Law, "Say Cheese: New Molds for “Old” Cooperative Forms? The Case of Wisconsin Specialty Cheesemaking"
  8. Charlie Trevor, Associate Professor, Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin, Madison, "Worker Performance and Voluntary Turnover in Worker Cooperatives."