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In the first part of this article, we present the theoretical foundations of Transaction Cost Economics (TCE) (Williamson, 1985 and 1996). Co-ordination in the supply chain is certainly a major aspect for the success of the PDO product (Protected Designation of Origin) and for the competitiveness of the firms producing and marketing it. TCE helps us to have a systematic approach in the comparison of governance structures (how firms organise transactions) in different PDO supply chains. The attributes of the transactions (asset specificity, frequency and uncertainty) partly explain the encountered arrangements. We show that they are not sufficient to explain all the observed arrangements because TCE considers governance structures between two private operators (bilateral agreements). It is limited when we come to institutional arrangements set up on a collective basis at a mesoeconomic level (multilateral arrangements). In the second part of this article, we highlight the diversity of PDO supply chains regarding the number of firms at the different levels. We give a list of issues which must be co-ordinated at a mesa-economic level in PDO supply chains and we focus on the influence which a collective management of the supply chain can have on the arrangements of private operators. We thus highlight the strong diversity of responses to problems common to PDO supply chains. As a conclusion, we call for further research in the field of collective management of food supply chains.


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