Changing Big Business

Changing Big Business

The Globalisation of the Fair Trade Movement

Anna Hutchens

Drawing on candid accounts from practitioners, producers and industry representatives, this informative and proactive volume investigates the challenges facing today’s fair trade movement and provides unique insights into the workings of social and economic power in world markets.

Chapter 6: Fair Trade as Game-Playing

Anna Hutchens

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, development studies, development studies, economics and finance, international economics


Game-players are radical and ‘bold’ actors. They seek to transform the regulatory environment rather than acknowledge convention and accepted norms. The game-player ‘imagines’ another regulatory world by ‘think[ing] outside the square’, and transcends existing regulatory constraints by accurately perceiving, ‘moving around and redefining the rules’ (see Braithwaite, 2009; Braithwaite et al., 2007: 291). The ability of the game-player to manoeuvre around institutional and structural constraints as well as lead the creation of new ones mirrors that of the entrepreneur. Like game-players, entrepreneurs desire structural change: entrepreneurs disrupt the ‘rules of the game’ with innovative business models to ‘break down barriers that cause the current market to be structured as it is’ (see McGrath and MacMillan, 2000: 94). Entrepreneurs are described as ‘visionary’, ‘creative’ and ‘convention-defying’ actors (see Cauthorn, 1989: 15; Goyder, 1998; McGrath and MacMillan, 2000). They are thought to display ‘alertness’ within their environment, which enables them to ‘transcend an existing framework of perceived opportunities’ (Kirzner, 1985: 7). Schumpeter (1934) described entrepreneurship as the ‘gale of creative destruction’ that overturns accepted industrial patterns. While theories of entrepreneurship go some way to explaining the game-player’s psychology and behaviour, their utility ends when it comes to extrapolating how game-players actually annihilate and restructure market structures. Schumpeter (1934), for instance, took greater interest in the effectual role of entrepreneurship in the evolutionary process than in explaining the causes or preconditions of innovative acts (Binks and Vale, 1990: 28). An analysis of the fair trade movement’s pioneers can be seen...

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