The emergence of E-commerce in the 1990s heralded the arrival of the New Economy. However, the failure of numerous dotcoms since early 2001 has led to a debate regarding the future direction of E-commerce and its potential relevance for agribusiness. This study examines the economic implications of E-commerce for agribusiness within the framework of New Institutional Economics. The New Institutional Economics implies that E-commerce has the potential to reduce direct transactions costs in agricultural markets, but that it also may add additional indirect transactions costs. Depending upon the tradeoff between these costs, an institutional innovation which reduces the transactions costs may provide the impetus for an alternative marketing channel for agricultural output. Two models of institutional change are explored. The North model of changes in the rules of the game is found to be more consistent with the advent of E-commerce than the model of technological change suggested by Schumpeter.


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