This study explores the hitherto unaddressed question of how the large, complex paddy‐rice market in Bangladesh is able to solve the problem of complex exchange, faced in particular by the dominant actors in the market who face the most complex trading risks. It adopts a New Institutional Economics (NIE) framework to explore agency issues in exchange resolved by intermediaries, and points to norms and trusts within trading networks that underpin these. The study notes significant but opposing trends in different areas, particularly in terms of market structure and trade circuits.

A major focus of this paper is to explore changes in the paddy‐rice market operation dynamics over a twenty year period in terms of structure, trade circuits, actors, roles, institutions and exchange relations. It also presents an opportunity to assess whether the nature of complex exchange and its institutional resolution has altered over time. In terms of exchange relations, a sharp decline in tied transactions was found, making exchange less personalised compared to twenty years ago.