Purpose This paper seeks to pinpoint the role played by social enterprises in the growth and mainstreaming of fair trade.Designmethodologyapproach The review encompasses seminal papers on the growth and mainstreaming of fair trade.Findings A crucial role is played by social enterprises in establishing fair trade in the mainstream. However this mainstreaming is contested and is argued by some to also lead to potential mission drift.Research limitationsimplications This review primarily investigates the Northern aspects of fair trade, in particular the role of social enterprise in the market growth of fair trade and its mainstreaming. However more research is required to unpack the producer perspectives of mainstreaming fair trade.Practical implications The article investigates one of the pioneering fields of social enterprise to see what lessons can be drawn for other social enterprise sectors that have mainstream ambitions.Originalityvalue This contribution provides a novel review to demonstrate the role played by social enterprise in the growth of fair trade. It argues that the dual mission of fair trade is out of balance and is in danger of becoming reduced to a certification scheme based on minimum compliance. However a rebalancing of social and commercial objectives and acknowledging the innovative approach of fair trade social enterprises would strengthen this pioneering social movement.
Social Enterprise Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 17, 2013
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