Guns and Roses: Flower Exports and Electoral Violence in Kenya
70 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2018 Last revised: 16 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 2021
Violent conflicts, particularly at election times in Africa, are a common cause of instability and economic disruption. This paper studies how firms react to electoral violence using the case of Kenyan flower exporters during the 2008 post-election violence as an example. Consistent with our theoretical framework, the violence induced a large negative supply shock that reduced exports primarily through workers' absence and had heterogeneous effects: larger firms and those with direct contractual relationships in export markets suffered smaller production and losses of workers. On the demand side, international buyers were not able to shift sourcing to Kenyan exporters located in areas not directly affected by the violence nor to neighboring Ethiopian suppliers during the violence. Consistent with difficulties in insuring against supply-chain risk disruptions caused by electoral violence, firms in direct contractual relationships ramp up shipments just before the subsequent 2013 presidential election to mitigate risk.
Keywords: flowers, exports, elections, electoral violence, Kenya, firms, trade
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