Journal of Business Ethics 146 (1):185-201 (2017)

Although fair trade has grown exponentially in the U.S. in recent years, we do not have a clear understanding of why small U.S. firms choose to participate in it. To answer this question, we use a qualitative case study approach and grounded theory analysis to explore the motivations of 35 small fair trade businesses. We find that shared values and the desire to help others, often triggered by a critical incident, lead social entrepreneurs to found and sustain fair trade businesses. The relationship between shared values and engagement in fair trade and the relationship between altruism and engagement in fair trade are strengthened by four motivating factors: direct relationships with producers, support for social causes, the desire for the preservation of craftsmanship, and the desire to share aesthetic products. These links are strengthened by four facilitating factors : the acquisition of business knowledge, family member involvement in the firm, assistance from faith communities, and assistance from the fair trade community. Additional analysis reveals three types of fair trade social entrepreneurs: “ethics first” entrepreneurs, primarily motivated by human rights and social justice concerns; “faith first” fair traders, motivated primarily by their religious faith; and “business first” businesspeople, motivated by what they perceive to be an opportunity to build a successful business while simultaneously doing “good” and helping others.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10551-015-2934-4
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,268
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Religiosity and Consumer Ethics.Scott J. Vitell, Joseph G. P. Paolillo & Jatinder J. Singh - 2005 - Journal of Business Ethics 57 (2):175-181.
The Role of Personal Values in Fair Trade Consumption.Caroline Josephine Doran - 2009 - Journal of Business Ethics 84 (4):549-563.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The University and the Moral Imperative of Fair Trade Coffee.Gavin Fridell - 2004 - Journal of Academic Ethics 2 (1):141-159.
A Role of Fair Trade Certification for Environmental Sustainability.Rie Makita - 2016 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 29 (2):185-201.


Added to PP index

Total views
14 ( #705,195 of 2,444,923 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #457,173 of 2,444,923 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes