Reference : Are Fair Trade Organizations necessarily Social Enterprises?
Scientific journals : Article
Business & economic sciences : Social economics
Are Fair Trade Organizations necessarily Social Enterprises?
[fr] Les organisations de commerce équitable sont-elles nécessairement des entreprises sociales ?
Huybrechts, Benjamin mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC - École de gestion de l'ULiège > Economie sociale et systèmes économiques >]
Defourny, Jacques mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC - École de gestion de l'ULiège > Economie sociale et systèmes économiques >]
Social Enterprise Journal
United Kingdom
[en] Europe ; Fair trade ; social enterprise ; governance ; organizational structure ; multi-stakeholder
[fr] Europe ; commerce équitable ; entreprise sociale
[en] gouvernance ; forme organisationnelle ; parties prenantes
[en] Purpose – Fair trade organisations (FTOs) have been taken quite early as examples of Social Enterprises (SE) and have contributed to the shaping of the SE concept. The purpose of this paper is to examine more deeply the link between FTOs and SE, both at a conceptual and at an empirical level.

Design/methodology/approach – First, different theoretical frameworks of SE are introduced and confront FT to each of these frameworks. The second step is an empirical study of FTOs across four European countries to illustrate and deepen the links between FT and SE, focusing on the goals and the governance structures of FTOs.

Findings – All the FTOs combine in some way economic, social and sometimes also political goals. FTOs are thus coherent to the “hybrid goals” nature of SEs. FTOs' governance is also quite specific and often innovative in terms of organisational architecture and stakeholders' involvement. Some FTOs are closer to the European – participatory – approach while others are closer to US – individual – approaches. Finally, the governance structures of FTOs seem to reflect quite well their goal mix.

Research limitations/implications – This paper provides a more solid basis for the often implicit link between FT and SE. Future researches could use this work to explore specific topics of the SE literature in the context of FT (e.g. stakeholders' involvement). The FT example could also be used to examine further the shifting boundaries of the SE reality.

Originality/value – The originality of this paper is to apply the SE concept to a specific field and to show how, within this field, there is at the same time a diversity of organisations, reflecting the diversity of SE approaches; and a range of specific features (especially in terms of goal mix and governance) distinguishing SEs from other types of organisations.
Centre d'Économie Sociale - CES
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students ; General public

File(s) associated to this reference

Fulltext file(s):

Open access
Huybrechts & Defourny 2008.pdfAuthor preprint209.44 kBView/Open

Bookmark and Share SFX Query

All documents in ORBi are protected by a user license.