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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Cheryl McEwan

Hughes, Alex, McEwan, Cheryl, Bek, David & Rosenberg, Zaitun (2014). Embedding Fairtrade in South Africa: Global Production Networks, National Initiatives and Localized Challenges in the Northern Cape. Competition and Change 18(4): 291-308.

Author(s) from Durham


This article contributes to debate on the evolving expressions of business responsibility in emerging market economies and developing economies by exploring and theorizing the ways in which the Fairtrade standard for supply chains is being re-worked and implemented in South Africa. To understand the changing ways in which the global Fairtrade standard is embedded in South Africa, the article argues for attention not only to recent strategic re-articulations of the standard through national-level initiatives, but also to the localized experiences of producer groups, including those in peripheral regions. This argument is supported by interview-based research revealing the challenges faced by a particular Fairtrade producer community — Eksteenskuil Agricultural Cooperative (EAC) in the Northern Cape. A relational approach developed from economic geography shows how challenges concerning market access, land tenure and community empowerment for this producer emerge from a combination of global Fairtrade conventions, South Africa’s dynamic national-institutional context and local politics of place.