Economics at your fingertips  

Competition and Relational Contracts in the Rwanda Coffee Chain

Rocco Macchiavello () and Ameet Morjaria

No 13607, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: How does competition affect market outcomes when formal contracts are not enforceable, and parties' resort to relational contracts? Difficulties with measuring relational contracts and dealing with the endogeneity of competition have frustrated attempts to answer this question. We make progress by studying relational contracts between upstream farmers and downstream mills in Rwanda's coffee industry. First, we identify salient dimensions of their relational contracts (unenforceable provision of services in both directions before, during and after harvest) and measure them through an original survey of mills and farmers. Second, we take advantage of an engineering model for the optimal placement of mills to construct an instrument that isolates geographically determined variation in competition. Conditional on the suitability for mills within the catchment area, we find that mills surrounded by more suitable areas: (i) face more competition from other mills; (ii) use fewer relational contracts with farmers; and (iii) exhibit worse performance. In contrast to conventional wisdom, an additional competing mill also (iv) makes farmers worse off; (v) reduces the aggregate quantity of coffee supplied to mills by farmers; and (vi) conditional on the farmer's distance from the mill, lowers relational contracts more for farmers close to the competing mill, suggesting that competition directly alters farmers temptation to renege on the relational contract. The finding that increased competition downstream leaves all producers -- including upstream producers -- no better-off suggests a potential role for policy in a second-best environment in which contracts are hard to enforce.

Keywords: Agricultural markets; Competition; Management Practices; Market imperfections; Relational Contracts (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D43 D86 L14 O13 Q13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-com and nep-cta
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) (application/pdf)
CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from ... rs/dp.php?dpno=13607

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers Centre for Economic Policy Research, 33 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DX.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().

Page updated 2020-09-26
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13607