Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Business)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Professor Gregory Moore


Charles Harper (1842-1912) was a Western Australian pastoralist, newspaper proprietor and influential politician. The central hypothesis advanced in this thesis is that Harper was instrumental in establishing co-operatives in Western Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a pragmatic means by which to overcome the economic constraints that normally confront a settler population in a frontier economy. Specifically, Harper believed that co-operatives were an important means by which to build the type of private and public physical capital that was needed to settle colonists on the large, low-yielding Western Australian landmass, and, further, to provide the required countervailing power to oppose the monopolistic enterprises that commonly characterise the incomplete markets in such settlements. It is argued that he was largely successful in the establishment of co-operatives for these pragmatic ends since he provided the leadership, inspiration and energy that was required to persuade potential co-operators that the benefits of working in concert to achieve a common end outweighed the free rider and other costs from working in concert. This hypothesis is elaborated upon and verified by presenting a biographical account of Harper with an emphasis on what, I contend, is his primary legacy as a co-operative promoter.

Included in

Business Commons