Institutional insights into the adaptation capacities of sectoral communities: evidence from the restructuring of the dairy sectors in France and Germany

Marie Dervillé (2022)

The Annals of Regional Science. Online first

Abstract. Economic transitions are complex and long-term processes that exert pressure not only on individuals and macrostructures but also on collective resources and the communities that manage them. Understanding how communities influence institutional change is of particular interest. This article contributes to the extant literature through a proof of concept: the elaboration of a dynamic, multiscale framework based on JR Commons’ institutionalism, demonstrating the role of sectoral communities in the long-term restructuring of the French and German dairy sectors. This study reveals that sectoral communities contribute in all cases but that the types of resources and scales of operations vary, leading to contrasting pathways. Sectoral shared representations and governance structures frame their activities, favouring the creation and management of collective resources and, thus, supporting their capacities to elaborate productive solutions and to negotiate exchange values. This conclusion is a breakthrough, adding to the knowledge of how mesoeconomic institutions contribute to the structuring of productive activities.

Extract: “The valorisation of production modes through market segmentation is a way to connect communities to provide use value for their members and to capture exchange value. Specific quality schemes can support the market valorisation of specific community practices. Quality conventions, defined as objectified social assessments, serve as a reference for organising economic activities (Favereau et al. 2003). Productivity conventions (building on Leibenstein’s effort convention (Leibenstein 1982)) correspond to social norms that are relative to the source of productivity gains in a sector (especially the labour/capital balance). Quality and productivity conventions coevolve and support the production and exchange of products and services (Coriat and Weinstein 2004).”

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