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The battle between “good” and “better”: A strategic marketing perspective on codes of conduct for sustainable agriculture


  • Paul Ingenbleek

    (Marketing and Consumer Behavior Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands)

  • Matthew T.G. Meulenberg

    (Marketing and Consumer Behavior Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands)


Code-of-conduct organizations (CCOs) for sustainable agriculture, such as Fair Trade and Eurep-Gap, are rapidly changing the face of agribusiness. Yet, there is little understanding of how these organizations contribute to sustainability. This study therefore presents a case study of the strategies by which CCOs aim to achieve their sustainability objectives. A cross-case comparison indicates that many strategic differences between codes of conduct can be traced back to two types of CCOs: those weighting principles over size, and those weighting size over principles. The former put a measuring rule in the market, and enable primary producers to differentiate themselves from mainstream production. The latter set lower requirements, but target mainstream production and involve large retailers and processing firms. Given the unique roles played by these types of organizations, sustainable development is best served by the synergy that results under “co-opetition”: when the two types of rival organizations coexist. [EconLit citations: L310, M310, Q560] © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Agribusiness 22: 451-473, 2006.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Ingenbleek & Matthew T.G. Meulenberg, 2006. "The battle between “good” and “better”: A strategic marketing perspective on codes of conduct for sustainable agriculture," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 451-473.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:agribz:v:22:y:2006:i:4:p:451-473 DOI: 10.1002/agr.20097

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kolk, Ans & van Tulder, Rob, 2002. "The Effectiveness of Self-regulation:: Corporate Codes of Conduct and Child Labour," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 260-271, June.
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    1. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9764-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Paul T. M. Ingenbleek & Domenico Dentoni, 2016. "Learning from Stakeholder Pressure and Embeddedness: The Roles of Absorptive Capacity in the Corporate Social Responsibility of Dutch Agribusinesses," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-18, October.

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