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FairTrade's theory of change: an evaluation based on the cooperative life cycle framework and mixed methods

Gian Nicola Francesconi and Ruerd Ruben

Journal of Development Effectiveness, 2014, vol. 6, issue 3, 268-283

Abstract: This study presents a quasi-experimental analysis of the impact of FairTrade certification on the commercial performance of coffee farmers in Tanzania. In doing so the study emphasises the importance of a well-contextualised theory of change as a basis for evaluation design. It also stresses the value of qualitative methods to control for selection bias. Based on a longitudinal (pseudo-panel) dataset comprising both certified and conventional farmers, it shows that FairTrade certification introduced a disincentive to farmers' commercialisation. We explain this counterintuitive conclusion on the basis of the 'cooperative life cycle' theory developed by US agribusiness scholars.

Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1080/19439342.2014.918164

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