Tensions Between Firm Size and Sustainability Goals: Fair Trade Coffee in the United States
Sustainability marketing trends have typically been led by smaller, more mission-driven firms, but are increasingly attracting larger, more profit-driven firms. Studying the strategies of firms that are moving away from these two poles ( i.e ., mission-driven but larger firms, and profit-driven firms that are more committed to sustainability) may help us to better understand the potential to resolve tensions between firm size and sustainability goals. We used this approach to analyze a case study of the U.S. fair trade coffee industry, employing the methods of data visualization and media content analysis. We identified three firms that account for the highest proportion of U.S. fair trade coffee purchases (Equal Exchange, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Starbucks) and analyzed their strategies, including reactions to recent changes in U.S. fair trade standards. We found an inverse relationship between firm size and demonstrated commitment to sustainability ideals, and the two larger firms were much less likely to acknowledge conflicts between size and sustainability in their public discourse. We conclude that similar efforts to increase sustainability marketing for other products and services should be more skeptical of approaches that rely on primarily on the participation of large, profit-driven firms.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Iain Davies & Bob Doherty & Simon Knox, 2010. "The Rise and Stall of a Fair Trade Pioneer: The Cafédirect Story," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 92(1), pages 127-147, March.
- J. Lepoutre & A. Heene, 2006.
"Investigating the Impact of Firm Size on Small Business Social Responsibility: a Critical Review,"
Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium
06/396, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
- Jan Lepoutre & AimÃ© Heene, 2006. "Investigating the Impact of Firm Size on Small Business Social Responsibility: A Critical Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 257-273, September.
- Thomas Reardon & C. Peter Timmer & Christopher B. Barrett & Julio Berdegué, 2003. "The Rise of Supermarkets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1140-1146.
- Darryl Reed, 2009. "What do Corporations have to do with Fair Trade? Positive and Normative Analysis from a Value Chain Perspective," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 86(1), pages 3-26, April.
- Acs, Zoltan J & Audretsch, David B, 1987. "Innovation, Market Structure, and Firm Size," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 567-74, November.
- Jeff Neilson & Bill Pritchard, 2010. "Fairness and ethicality in their place: the regional dynamics of fair trade and ethical sourcing agendas in the plantation districts of South India," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 42(8), pages 1833-1851, August.
- Gavin Fridell, 2009. "The Co-Operative and the Corporation: Competing Visions of the Future of Fair Trade," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 86(1), pages 81-95, April.
- repec:feb:natura:0061 is not listed on IDEAS
- Hockerts, Kai & Wüstenhagen, Rolf, 2010. "Greening Goliaths versus emerging Davids -- Theorizing about the role of incumbents and new entrants in sustainable entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 481-492, September.
- Templet, Paul H., 1995. "Grazing the commons: an empirical analysis of externalities, subsidies and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 141-159, February.
- Chris Arnot & Peter C. Boxall & Sean B. Cash, 2006.
"Do Ethical Consumers Care About Price? A Revealed Preference Analysis of Fair Trade Coffee Purchases,"
Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie,
Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 54(4), pages 555-565, December.
- Chris Arnot & Peter Boxall & Sean Cash, 2006. "Do ethical consumers care about price? A revealed preference analysis of fair trade coffee purchases," Natural Field Experiments 00221, The Field Experiments Website.
- Iain Davies, 2009. "Alliances and Networks: Creating Success in the UK Fair Trade Market," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 86(1), pages 109-126, April.
- Perfecto, Ivette & Vandermeer, John & Mas, Alex & Pinto, Lorena Soto, 2005. "Biodiversity, yield, and shade coffee certification," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 435-446, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:72-89:d:22558. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.