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Abstract

This paper presents a unique descriptive and empirical study of governance and performance in the U.S. agri-food industry with specific emphasis on the boards of directors of firms and cooperatives. Per the summary statistics, the average firm has more assets, more sales, and more profits, yet efficiency and profitability ratios indicate the average cooperative is superior. Using seven board and management characteristics, a three-stage least squares model is specified for two samples of 128 firms and 456 cooperatives in order to address the hypothesized endogenous nature of the governance-performance relationship. For the cooperative sample, the impact of board size on performance is estimated to be negative, while female directorship, director independence, and director ownership have a positive and significant causal relationship to various proxies of performance. Overall, in relation to financial performance, governance as proxied by board and management characteristics is concluded to be more impactful for the cooperative sample, which implies a significant difference between corporate and cooperative governance.

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