Research

Working Papers:

Investigating the Inclusive-Performance Tradeoff in Agricultural Cooperatives: Evidence from Nepal. With Conner Mullally

Is there a tradeoff between inclusive membership and market performance in agricultural cooperatives? Prior studies argue that inclusive membership practices damage cooperative performance by increasing internal transaction and coordination costs. Determining the extent of this tradeoff is essential to understanding the role that cooperatives play in alleviating poverty. However, studies on this topic have largely overlooked the extent to which organizational activities are inclusive of existing members. In this paper, I expand the definition of inclusive membership to account for two separate sources of inclusion, extensive and intensive, and ex- amine the inclusive-performance tradeoff across each dimension. Extensive inclusion describes the diversity of a cooperative’s membership, while intensive inclusion describes the extent to which existing members are included in group activities. My results suggest that extensive inclusion is associated with lower market performance, while intensive inclusion is associated with higher market performance. This may suggest that both extensive and intensive inclusion have a meaningful, but opposite, impact on a cooperative’s ability to achieve market performance. Policy implications of these results are discussed.

The Impact of a Smartphone Marketing Application on Smallholder Livestock Producers in Nepal: Pre-Analysis Plan. With Conner Mullally, Sarah Janzen and Nicholas Magnan

Can smartphone applications be harnessed to raise the incomes of smallholder farmers? Although previous literature has shown that access to mobile phones and mobile phone-based interventions can positively affect smallholder farmers, little is known about the effects of introducing smartphone applications designed to solve market problems and increase economic activity. In this pre-analysis plan, we propose to evaluate the effects of a smartphone-based, information-sharing app for livestock producers known as the “Virtual Collection Center”. Our population of interest consists of smallholder goat producers in rural Nepal, all of whom are women and are members of producer cooperatives. We will estimate average and heterogeneous treatment effects of the app in four domains: information sharing, animals sold, prices received and cooperative-level management outcomes. Our study will contribute to two areas of interest where little evidence currently exists: the potential of smartphone apps as a tool for agricultural development, and business development for agricultural cooperatives in developing countries.

Works in Progress:

Side-Selling and the Returns to Cooperative Participation: The Role of Comparative Advantage in Smallholder Livestock Cooperatives in Nepal. With Conner Mullally

Perhaps the most critical shortcoming of an agriculture cooperative can be seen in the form of side-selling, in which cooperative members subvert the organization in selling their output. This phenomena is widespread in livestock cooper- atives across rural Nepal, where nearly 80% of goat-selling households in my sample choose to sell their goats to a local trader instead of through the cooperative of which they are a member. Making this problem more interesting is evidence suggesting that households who sell their goats through the cooperative receive a higher price and sell more goats on average than side-selling households. The goal of this paper is to empirically answer the following questions: i) are there significant net returns to selling through the cooperative, ii) are these returns heterogeneous and iii) if so, does this heterogeneity explain why a small number of producers sell through the cooperative, and others side-sell? To answer these questions, I use a panel data set spanning more than 1,500 smallholder goat producers that are members of 109 livestock marketing cooperatives in rural Nepal. I estimate a correlated random coefficient (CRC) model to analyze the net returns to cooperative sales and discuss the importance of comparative advantage in explaining the decision to do so.

The Impact of Local Credit: A Replication Study of a Village Savings and Loan Associations Experiment in Malawi. With Ben Avuwadah

Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), a type of financial institution in which members pool their savings and award loans within the group, have become a widespread intervention aimed at increasing access to credit among rural households in developing countries. VSLAs have now been introduced in 72 countries and have 11 million active participants worldwide. However, more evidence is needed to better understand the impact of VSLAs on household welfare. By reexamining Ksoll et al., (2016), this replication study attempts to further understand the impact of VSLAs in Northern Malawi. We conduct a pure replication test of the findings published in the original study as well an extension test. Our extension test primarily focuses on an assessment of impact heterogeneity.

Presentations:

Agricultural & Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting 2020. Kansas City, Missouri. (Meeting held virtually due to COVID-19).

Investigating the Inclusive-Performance Tradeoff in Agricultural Cooperatives (Selected paper presentation).

Feed the Future Livestock Systems Innovation Lab: Innovation Platform Meeting 2018. Kathmandu, Nepal.

Progress of the Reach Project: Innovations for Smallholder Female Livestock Growers in Nepal: Improving Cooperatives and Extension

Agricultural & Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting 2018. Washington, D.C.

Graduate Student Case Study Competition.

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