THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Competition Versus Cooperation


  • John Ikerd University of Missouri, Columbia



Competition, Cooperation, Cooperative Movement, Polanyi


First paragraphs:

Cooperation has emerged as a new watchword of the sustainability movement. Those who are concerned about sustainability are encouraged to cooperate rather than compete. Food-related cooperatives include regional food hubs, local food networks, food box schemes, food buying clubs, farmers' markets, community supported agriculture operations (CSAs), and farmer-owned cooperatives. Cooperation is a logical response to the obvious ravages of cutthroat economic competition in the American food system. However, we cannot afford to ignore our basic human tendency to compete.

Obviously, unrestrained competition is not sustainable — in the economy, society, or nature. Contrary to popular opinion, Darwin was not referring solely to competition when he wrote about the origin and evolution of species. Individuals often need to compete for the opportunity to pass on their genes, but cooperation is necessary to actually accomplish conception and successful reproduction. Even organisms that reproduce by simple cell division must have a cooperative environment for the offspring to survive and thrive....


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Author Biography

John Ikerd, University of Missouri, Columbia

John Ikerd is professor emeritus of agricultural economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. He was raised on a small dairy farm in southwest Missouri and received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. He worked in private industry for a time and spent 30 years in various professorial positions at North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Georgia, and the University of Missouri before retiring in 2000. Since retiring, he spends most of his time writing and speaking on issues related to sustainability with an emphasis on economics and agriculture. Ikerd is author of Sustainable Capitalism; A Return to Common Sense; Small Farms Are Real Farms; Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture; A Revolution of the Middle; and the just-released The Essentials of Economic Sustainability. More background and selected writings are accessible at his University of Missouri website and personal website.
John Ikerd



How to Cite

Ikerd, J. (2014). THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Competition Versus Cooperation. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(2), 15–17.

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