While recent changes to Fairtrade's governance structures aim to facilitate “stronger voices” for producers, relatively little is known about the impact on individual farmers. This paper aims to consider the nature of participation and representation, assessing the role of Fairtrade International (FLO) in representing the interests of its members through an exploration of collaborative governance.
The author utilizes Fung and Wright's framework of empowered participatory governance to explore the nature of individual participation in Fairtrade governance.
This paper finds that, while FLO has demonstrated a commitment to improving producer participation and its governance structures appear to be evolving accordingly, much remains to be done in order to ensure that individual producers are genuinely engaged in decision making and have a voice. The concept of countervailing power may provide a means of achieving this.
This paper highlights gaps in the literature that future research might serve to fill. It also finds that there are practical implications for FLO's structures and policies that aim to encourage individual participation and representation, particularly with regards to capacity building and leadership. In addition, the notion of countervailing power is outlined as a useful concept for further addressing diversity and heterogeneity in Fairtrade participation.
This paper focuses on Fairtrade's emerging agenda related to producer voices, while applying EPG in a novel manner. This theoretical framework allows for an original interpretation of the existing empirical material on Fairtrade, and the introduction of countervailing power as a useful concept within Fairtrade may be of interest to both practitioners and researchers.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited