The aim of this study is to analyze the relationship between the adoption of corporate governance practices and the performance of agricultural co-operatives in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. The document analysis was based on bylaws and meeting minutes from 2012 to 2014, from a sample of 21 co-operatives, totaling 84 documents. In order to assess the level of corporate governance we compared the co-operatives’ documents to the 40 recommendations proposed by the Brazilian Co-operatives Organization (OCB, 2016). These are distributed in 5 major areas: i) members and the general assembly; ii) management board; iii) supervisory board; iv) advisory bodies and audit; and v) ombudsman and co-operatives’ relationship with their members. The theoretical presupposition is that the adoption of corporate governance aligns the interests of the co-operatives and their members, which minimizes agency conflicts. To that end, we assumed the following theoretical precepts of the agency theory: i) monitoring, and ii) incentives. The results showed that the majority of governance practices recommended are related to the “management board” area, while those most adopted by the co-operatives are related to the dimension “members and general assembly”—which are strongly related to monitoring efforts. Considering the totality of recommendations proposed by OCB, only two have been 100% adopted by the co-operatives. The results show a low level of corporate governance in agriculture co-ops in Mato Grosso do Sul. We conclude that there is still a long way to go until governance practices become a mechanism to minimize agency conflicts.
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