The interrelationship of capital, ownership, and governance in U.S. farmer cooperatives is not well-understood. In order to better conceptualize the overall structure of farmer cooperatives, a new framework is constructed with member ownership diversity, member control delegation, and financial flexibility as its three dimensions. Primary survey data on 371 U.S. farmer cooperatives is collected and analyzed to discover moderate to strong correlation coefficients for ownership and governance (0.27), ownership and capital (0.33), and governance and capital (0.51). An ordered probit model is specified and estimated for each structure. The empirical relationship of member ownership diversity and member control delegation is characterized by bi-directionality, which implies endogeneity must be addressed in future research. On the whole, the ownership structure and the capital structure are independent, although the probability of financial flexibility is increased by outside investment in subsidiary organizations. In terms of governance, delegation of real control from board directors to senior managers has a positive impact on the capital structure. Most hypotheses, as informed by agency, finance, and cooperative theory, are accepted, suggesting the three-dimensional framework has merit.


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