Chapter 5: Fairtrade as Resistance
Chapter 4 detailed the rapid growth of the fair trade pioneers’ innovation in the Fairtrade certiﬁcation system. Those who now administer and govern the expansion of FLO, the Labelling Initiatives (LIs) (formerly National Initiatives – NIs), have an organisational mission to consolidate the Fairtrade system within the wider conventional marketplace. This chapter provides an empirical account and analysis of the distinctive market-oriented path along which these actors have expanded the Fairtrade system. This is also a story about the evolution of ‘resistance’ and how its organisational and political trajectory invites real threats to the prospect of genuine market evolution. The starting point for the conceptual story in this chapter is that within evolutionary economics it is an accepted proposition that innovation has a cyclical or temporary nature (see Nooteboom, 2001). As a new business venture moves towards consolidation, it becomes a more bureaucratic and rigid structure. In this phase, it becomes increasingly challenging for the organisation to exploit new opportunities to ‘capitalise on new ideas’ or adapt eﬀectively to a dynamically changing environment (see Schaper and Volery, 2002; Foster and Metcalfe, 2001; Nooteboom, 2001; Achrol and Kotler, 1999; Robert and Weiss, 1988).1 This is because bureaucratic, hierarchically structured organisations are poor receptors and exploiters of new information. As Achrol and Kotler (1999: 147) suggest, ‘large, vertically integrated hierarchies are ineﬃcient means of governance in knowledge-rich and turbulent environments . . . [a]daption is slow and costly because of entrenched interests eager to preserve their power and prerogatives’. Intent on...
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