Collaborative groups: themes for success and the role of universities
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The development of supply chains in agriculture has resulted in improved efficiencies and greater returns but the distribution of benefits within the chain is just beginning to be considered. Farmers, because they are perfectly competitive firms, face particular challenges in dealing with supply chains, which are otherwise composed of oligopolistic firms. In order to secure an equitable distribution of benefits from a supply chain, farmers will have to form some sort of group (e.g. a cooperative). Cooperatives, however, have a number of well-documented shortcomings as an institutional form. This paper identifies factors associated with the successful formation of collaborative groups drawing on experiences in Australia and the United States. Key success factors common to both countries include strong leadership, planning, the development of effective standard operating procedures, the creation and sustenance of social capital, and the availability of outside assistance. An agenda for research and outreach by universities and others is proposed.
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