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Plural Forms of Organization: Where Do We Stand?


Correspondence to: Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne (CES), University of Paris (Pantheon-Sorbonne), 106 Boulevard de l'Hôpital 75647-Paris, France. E-mail:


This paper addresses a puzzling problem: why do parties often choose to combine alternative modes of organizations simultaneously while dealing with identical or almost identical transactions? I propose a model to capture these so-called ‘plural forms’ and to explain the choice of such non-standard arrangements. Three determinants are identified as playing the major role: ambiguity surrounding the fitness of a mode of organization to the transaction at stake; complexity of a transaction or a set of transactions; and strategic behavior. Propositions are derived that are confronted to empirical data coming out of the agro-food industry. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.