Public and Private Institutional Responses to Advocacy Attacks: The Case of the Global Cocoa Industry and Child Labour Abuse
Over the past decade the global agri-food industry has come under increasing attack by advocacy groups related to their production and marketing processes (Bowmar and Gow, 2009). Advocacy groups have used these attacks to exploit the growing intergenerational disconnect between consumers and farming to campaign for narrowly defined political ideals while challenging traditional agricultural practices (Olin, 1999). This disconnect has provided advocacy groups the opportunity to use boycotts and other media attacks to severely adverse impact not only branded manufacturers and retailers, but their farmer suppliers. The agri-food industry’s challenge is to understand how to develop appropriate individual and collective responses to these attacks that minimize their current and future adverse impact and provide mutually beneficial outcomes for all of the channel members. Using an instrumental case study of the international cocoa and chocolate industry’s response to the child labour abuse and trafficking claims, we analyse and evaluate the alternative individual and collective responses that firms can implement to minimize their current and future adverse impact from advocacy attacks and provide mutually beneficial outcomes for all of the channel members. This paper follows a comparative institutional analysis methodology to analyse the multiple nested case studies and evaluate the impact and implications of each alternative.
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