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Paper info: Relationship in a Fair Trade Market: A Means to Practice CSR Principles


Relationship in a Fair Trade Market: A Means to Practice CSR Principles


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The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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Organizations are considered as social structures created by individuals to support the collaborative pursuit of specified goals that use resources and adapt to environment rules (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978; Hannan, and al. 1995). So they sometimes focus on social and environmental objectives in the relationship (Lichtenstein and al. 2004). They engage efforts towards social and environmental responsibility, consider all of the partners, the “stakeholders” (suppliers, clients, NGO’s: Non Governmental Organizations, etc.) and respond to their demand. This is the case in a fair trade market where business requires some attention for and collaboration between partners. Also, some degree of commitment is required from multiple partners to carry on in business and greater commitment to achieve new levels of performance (Giovannucci and Koekoek, 2003; Henderson, 2008; Huybrechts and Reed, 2010). Over the last years, lucrative organizations have found an opportunity to integrate a market by focusing on social responsibility (Lindgreen and al. 2009). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is viewed as a technique to access to the fair trade market. Indeed, fair trade is based on standards that promote social responsibility, the respect of social norms between partners. By combining their resources, actors in a fair trade market aim to realize social objectives such as: to reduce differentiation between salaries of employees, to provide training, to avoid discrimination, to ensure that the quality of the fair trade’ product is respected by all of the partners (consumers, NGO’s, employees, distributors, suppliers, communities and shareholders etc.) not only by producers. Consequently, some questions emerge in the fair trade market: what kinds of partners are affected by CSR, what are their objectives and how do they exchange to apply social responsibility principles in the relationship? Our objective in this paper is to explain how organizations in their relationship use fair trade standards to apply CSR principles. We mobilize CSR literature (Lindgreen and Swaen, 2009; Wood, 2010; Carroll and Shabana, 2010) to identify the main principles of this concept and the link with the fair trade. By using a qualitative approach through a case study method (Yin, 2003) we give an example of the application of CSR principles in a fair trade market. We show that organizations that choose to integrate CSR principles are motivated by different objectives: integrating social and environmental criteria in their strategy, protecting their image or their reputation. Fair trade can help them to lay the foundations of social responsibility, and to guarantee the quality of their product in the market. However the application of CSR in a fair trade market depends on the nature and the structure of the organization.
Keywords: Fair trade, Corporate social responsibility (CSR), Relationship