Organic Order

August 7, 2022
That’s the title of a working paper with my very talented student, Sebastian Anastasi. Earlier this summer, I made reference to this paper in this post.
Here’s our paper’s current abstract:
We develop a theory of how Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangements ensure commitment on the part of farmers in the absence of explicit contracts or third-party certification. Since CSA members pay for fresh produce before the growing season commences and CSAs lack formal legal protections, farmers can engage in opportunism. Such opportunism may include shirking, employing objectionable growing practices, and decreasing the size of members’ weekly share of produce. We find that CSAs foster commitment by augmenting the power of the repeat purchase mechanism. Farmers’ investments in their communities create relational bonds that function as hostages and enable effective multilateral punishment. Additionally, CSA farmers expend substantial amounts of resources on soil enrichment that they cannot recoup in the event of opportunism. CSA farmers also choose to grow crops with low monitoring costs. Ultimately, we shed light on the scope and limits of self-governing arrangements.
notion image
As I’ve argued before, commitment is one of the most important concepts in the social sciences. But it is also under-explored. We’re hoping to do our part to fill that lacuna.
Stay tuned for further developments. And don’t hesitate to email me if you’d like a copy.