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Law and Peace: Contracts and the Success of the Danish Dairy Cooperatives


We consider the successful early emergence of cooperative creameries in Denmark in the late nineteenth century within the framework of the “new institutional economics” presented by Oliver Williamson. Previous work focused on the social cohesion of the Danes, but we demonstrate that this was not sufficient for their success. The Danish legal system, which we compare to that of other countries, was also of crucial importance, along with the way in which rules were monitored and enforced. Of particular interest is the Danish cooperatives’ use of contracts, which we explore with evidence from a variety of primary and secondary sources.

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