Ownership versus management: the role of farming networks in Argentina

Agroholdings are ‘horizontally and vertically integrated agricultural and agribusiness enterprises, which often have an explicit holding structure consisting on quite a number of legal entities’. This might be true in the countries the authors evaluated, but it certainly is not the case in Argentina, where horizontal and vertical coordination (rather than integration) is the norm. During the last 25 years the institutional environment impacted the way farming is organized in Argentina, mainly by using contracts between different players and service providers. The agricultural production sector increasingly shifted from a low to medium and to a large-scale business model, and production units expanded horizontally by means of land leases (coordination) and purchases (integration) in order to increase the scale of production and dilute fixed costs in an attempt to generate higher margins. In that sense this paper arises four questions: (1) why is it that in Argentina large-scale farming is predominantly done via contracts instead of vertical and horizontal integration?; (2) why have large-scale farming networks recently stalled or even declined in terms of area growth?; (3) how and why do these networks vary their scale of production, locations and strategies?; and (4) what can we expect in terms of evolution of different types of large-scale farming? It is observed that in Argentina there were different institutional contexts, sometimes with clearer and more stable conditions and low levels of uncertainty, sometimes with higher intervention policies and transaction costs. The paper discusses how new organizations emerged during different periods and scenarios, in a context of increased international demand for agricultural commodities. The most relevant conclusions drawn from this analysis are that, in Argentina’s agriculture, there is a continuous shift from ownership to management, although consolidation towards larger scale entities has slowed down due to the existence of institutional and policy restrictions.

Issue Date:
Dec 17 2016
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Record Identifier:
Published in:
International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, Volume 20, Issue 2
Page range:
JEL Codes:
D23; L14; Q13

 Record created 2017-10-16, last modified 2018-01-23

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