The Eras and Participants of FairTrade: An Industry Structure/Stakeholder Perspectiveon the Growth of the Fair Trade Industry

Iain Davies
Publication Date: 
This paper aims to investigate the increased mass-marketing in the fair trade industry to provide a robust analysis of the industry, participants and growth for use both as a starting-point for researchers in this field and as a case study for readers with an interest in any ethical trading initiative.
• Design/methodology/approach – Utilizing data from a longitudinal exploratory research project, participant observation from two organizations and in-depth interviews from a total of 15 organizations are combined to build a strong theory grounded in the data. • Findings – The paper provides insight into the nature of participants and industry structure in fair trade over time. Four distinct eras are identified which reflect both current literature and the practitioners’ perspective. The four eras can be split into three extant eras – the solidarity era, niche-market era, and mass-market era, and the fourth – the institutionalisation era – depicts participants’ beliefs about the future for the industry.