Date Available


Year of Publication


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Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

David L. Debertin


The food processing industry is dominated by large corporations. These firms play a critical role in forming the derived demand faced by agricultural producers, but little is understood about how these companies make strategic choices. Organizational economics provides a framework for exploring the firm's decision process. However, several theories exist in this discipline, operating in fundamentally different ways. This paper examines the two prevalent organizational theories, Transaction Cost Economics and Agency Theory, through a study of the food processing industry. This sector is thoroughly analyzed in order to make predictions from each theory regarding the aspects of capital structure and firm expansion. With accounting data for a sample of food processing firms, these predictions are then tested empirically using an ICAPM model in a cross-section of expected stock returns. Our results indicate that Agency Theory is the relevant organizational model for food manufacturers, making it the appropriate tool for evaluating the actions of these firms in agricultural markets.