Information search costs in two artisanal fishing villages in Ghana: The impact of community radio

Yordy, Christopher
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University of Guelph

Information search costs constitute one of the most fundamental aspects of the theory of transaction costs, yet there have been few studies which have assessed search costs empirically. In order to gain a better idea of the nature of search costs in rural production systems, it is helpful to trace the impacts of specific technologies on the availability of market information and market knowledge. This study finds that market information disseminated via community radio reduces information search costs for rural producers, particularly for rural women in the communities sampled. This study evaluates changes in search costs in two ways: first in assessing changes in the costs of accessing market information, and second in assessing how changes in search costs are linked to enhanced market choices, bargaining power and opportunism. The research was undertaken in Ghana's artisanal fishing sector and compared two villages and the unique information accessibility constraints of males and females in both. This study concludes that having lower search costs did not directly impact on marketing margins in the two communities, but better quality and quantity of information (lower search cost) was tied to higher levels of bargaining power and lower levels of opportunistic behaviour in the trade of fish.

information search costs, information dissemination, community radio, rural producers, rural women, Ghana, artisanal fishing sector, marketing margins, bargaining power