This e-book presents a set of chapters dealing with economic and organisational issues in agri-food value chains. The recent financial crisis, and a number of other institutional and regulatory changes, have increased the uncertainty and complexity of the agri-food value chain considerably, as well as the intensity of interconnection and dependency between different actors worldwide. Based on these considerations the guest editors invited a number of scholars to reflect on the adequacy of “traditional” organizational arrangements at agri-food value chain level to address these changes and challenges. Even more importantly, they questioned as to whether as scholars and practitioners we have developed a sufficiently accurate and diverse conceptual and methodological toolbox to understand them. Although considerable attention has been given to the analysis and determination of organizational arrangements characterising agri-food value chains, the relationship between regulatory and organizational changes has received limited attention in the literature. Empirical evidence from agri-food value chains suggests that very often actors involved in similar transactions and activities combine different organizational solutions. This coexistence is puzzling and has challenged theoreticians as well as empiricists. Several alternative and often divergent theories of organization have been developed and used to better understand these empirical observations: transaction cost economics (TCE), agency theory (AT), property rights theory (PR) and a mix of resource-based and evolutionary perspectives represent the leading approaches. The development of competing explanations reflects an increasing interest for the nature of organizations in agri-food value chains. However, it also suggests that we still lack an integrated theory. Moreover, the general literature on organizational arrangements and forms gives limited attention to the agri-food sector. For instance, most organizational theories have been developed with reference to the industrial sector. Against this background, and in light of the partially unexplored interplay between regulatory and organizational changes in agri-food value chains, this e-book collects ideas from different perspectives.
Based on the rich and diverse works collected in this e-book, as guest editors we believe that a small step has been made towards a better understanding of the complexity of governance and organisation of agri-food value chains, and the interplay between organizational and institutional/regulatory changes. We also think further steps in this direction need to be made in the future. In this respect, we interpret this e-book as a starting point rather than as a destination.
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