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Social innovation in Mexican coffee production: filling ‘institutional voids’

Manuela Rösing Agostini, Claudia Cristina Bitencourt and Luciana Marques Vieira

International Review of Applied Economics, 2020, vol. 34, issue 5, 607-625

Abstract: The focus of social innovation initiatives on the market through food production is a classic example of social inclusion within the context of emerging countries. From a long-term perspective, however, it is still not clear how social innovation contributes towards filling institutional voids. This paper aims to understand which institutional factors have influenced social innovation and how a coffee production initiative has transformed the reality in which it operates. We analysed a joint initiative of social enterprises that coordinate an organic coffee value chain in southern Mexico, a region in which extreme poverty affects 75% of the population. The case study involved thirteen semi-structured interviews with key actors and participant observation in situ, complemented by secondary data, in an interpretative perspective that adopted a qualitative and exploratory approach. The main results indicate that social innovation fills institutional voids by creating a ‘self-revolving system of activity expansion’. This system helps to scale social innovation based on the collaboration of different actors and the integration of the coffee production chain that promotes the social and economic development of the community by: (1) establishing a more productive relationship between small local producers; (2) adding value to the coffee; (3) encouraging social and economic empowerment in the cooperative; and (4) organizing local economic activities.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/02692171.2019.1638351

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