The Role of Social Capital in the Success of Fair Trade

Journal of Business Ethics 96 (2):317-338 (2010)
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Fair Trade companies have pulled off an astonishing tour de force. Despite their relatively small size and lack of resources, they have managed to achieve considerable commercial success and, in so doing, have put the fair trade issue firmly onto industry agendas. We analyse the critical role played by social capital in this success and demonstrate the importance of values as an exploitable competitive asset. Our research raises some uncomfortable questions about whether fair trade has 'sold out' to the mainstream and whether these companies have any independent future or whether their ultimate success lies in the impact they have had on day-to-day trading behaviour



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