Contracts and cooperation: The relative failure of the Irish dairy industry in the late nineteenth century reconsidered

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Why did the establishment of cooperative creameries in late nineteenth-century Ireland fail to halt the relative decline of her dairy industry compared with other emerging producers? This paper compares the Irish experience with that of the market leader, Denmark, and shows how each adopted the cooperative organizational form, and highlights that an important difference was institutional: specifically, regarding the enforcement of vertically binding contracts. We argue that this failure, combined with a strong proprietary sector which was opposed to cooperation, reinforced the already difficult conditions for dairying in Ireland due to poor social capital.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Review of Economic History
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)412-431
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


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