The Rise of Buyer-Driven Sustainability Governance: Emerging Trends in the Global Coffee Sector

43 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017

Date Written: August 8, 2017

Abstract

The coffee industry connects millions of smallholder farmers with global markets and has historically been a frontrunner in sustainability efforts. Yet, the governance of this value chain and its sustainability depends on the distribution of power between market actors. This paper applies a Global Value Chain approach (Gereffi, 1999) to characterize the current distribution of power and opportunities in the coffee sector, and examines how this characterization has influenced the sector’s non-state market-driven (NSMD) sustainability governance structure (Bernstein and Cashore, 2007). The study finds that in a strongly buyer-driven chain, the reinterpretation of sustainability as supply chain management has led to the emergence of more company-owned standards and direct-impact projects as alternatives to third-party certification schemes, as well as their coordination in pre-competitive sectoral platforms. The simultaneous rise of producing-country definitions of sustainability points to a continued fragmentation of sustainability governance and a loss of authority of traditional NSMD channels.

Keywords: Sustainability governance, non-state market-driven governance, Global Value Chain, coffee, Corporate Social Responsibility, sustainability

Suggested Citation

Grabs, Janina, The Rise of Buyer-Driven Sustainability Governance: Emerging Trends in the Global Coffee Sector (August 8, 2017). ZenTra Working Paper in Transnational Studies No. 73 / 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3015166

Janina Grabs (Contact Author)

University of Munster ( email )

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