Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett
Chapter 13: Fair trade and social enterprise
The organizational landscape of fair trade has evolved towards increasing complexity and diversity, even when only taking into account organizations that have a central focus on importing and retailing fairly traded products (Becchetti and Huybrechts 2008; Gendron, Bisaillon and Rance 2009; Huybrechts 2012). Hence, ambiguities may occur when delineating and naming these organizations. Moreover, focusing on ‘fair trade’ as the defining characteristic of ‘fair trade organizations’ shifts the attention away from how these organizations are structured and from the many similarities they share with other organizations outside the fair trade sector. This chapter suggests that the notion of ‘social enterprise’ is useful to capture the DNA of organizations focused on fair trade and to locate them within a broader organizational taxonomy. Without seeking to impose a new term that may not resonate for certain actors or regions, this chapter aims to bring two contributions to fair trade research and practice. First, it is suggested that the social enterprise approach is particularly useful as an analytical tool enabling researchers and other stakeholders to capture the evolution and diversification of organizational models in fair trade. Second, the use of a broader organizational approach that is not specific to the fair trade sector allows for connections with similar organizations in other sectors and brings a shift from considering mainly what the organizations do (fair trade in this case) towards also addressing what they are (innovative social enterprise models combining market dynamics with social purpose). This chapter is structured as follows.
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