Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the meanings and business practices of four Southern Fair Trade enterprises (SFTEs). Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on research with four SFTEs in Bangladesh, taking an ethnographic approach with qualitative methodologies such as semi‐structured interviews, recorded meetings, informal discussions, analysis of grey literature, and observation with managers, staff, field workers and artisans of the organisations. Findings – The meanings of Fair Trade are located in personal, family, business and national understandings of fairness and development. Such meanings inform the business practices of the SFTEs, used to achieve both commercial success and social goals, confirming the role of SFTEs in creating and maintaining ideals of fairer trade. Research limitations/implications – There is a need for more research on Fair Trade from the perspective of SFTEs. Practical implications – The research draws attention to the key roles and business practices of the SFTE, increasing the understanding of what happens in the name of Fair Trade, and also provides lessons for other socially responsible enterprises. Social implications – The research highlights the importance of Southern meanings and practices, which should be included in the conceptualisation of Fair Trade, thus facilitating both informed debate and understanding the possibilities for the promotion and extension of fairer trade. Originality/value – This research is unusual in concentrating on the central role played by the SFTE, particularly in the handicraft sector and with businesses rather than cooperatives. The business practices and decisions of SFTEs are often hidden in representations of Fair Trade.
critical perspectives on international business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 19, 2012
Keywords: Fair Trade; Handicrafts; Bangladesh; Meanings; Business practices; International trade; Business ethics
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