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Abstract

Agricultural transition in the former Soviet Union has, surprisingly for many observers, not led to a widespread adoption of individual farming. This article attempts to understand some previously neglected forces behind this outcome. It develops a theoretical model of farm restructuring in which managers exploit the preferences of workers for conformity within a social reference group to cement their own power. The model provides a rationale for the persistent support among workers and managers to the status-quo organisation, despite the availability of a more efficient individual farming option. Based on empirical evidence, we argue that managers have an incentive to keep horizons of workers limited by sheltering them from pro-reform influences. Polar reform equilibria are generated that are consistent with the observed spatial patterns of restructuring. The model predicts that policies aiming at the establishment of independent farms will fail unless they induce a "big push" in reform attitudes among workers.

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