CSR and ethical trade

Corporate environmental reports: the need for standards and an environmental assurance service


Beets S. D. and Souther C. C. 1999. Accounting Horizons 13(2): 129-145.


Many companies are becoming more responsive to investors' concerns about the environment by voluntarily compiling and issuing periodic environmental reports that are essentially independent of the annual financial reports.

Because of an absence of environmental reporting standards, however, these reports differ significantly thereby confounding comparability. Additionally, the credibility of these reports is being questioned, as they are typically not verified by independent third parties.

As many public accounting firms are currently attempting to develop additional assurance services to offer existing and potential clients, verification of environmental reports may be an appropriate application of accounting firms' attestation skills and their desire to expand the client relationship.

Such verification engagements may also be beneficial for corporations, investors, regulators and, ultimately, the environment. Guidance and criteria for environmental verification services are scant, however, and the accounting profession may benefit from expeditious development of such standards so that public accountants are empowered to offer a needed assurance service and compete effectively with other consulting firms. (Beets and Souther, 1999 p.129)




Consumer perception of organic food production and farm animal welfare


Harper G. C. and Makatouni A. 2002. British Food Journal 104: 287-299.


As part of a wider project looking at UK consumers attitudes to organic food, this paper uses focus group data to explore the relationship between organic food and animal welfare. The article shows how consumers often confuse different ethical practices in food production, such as organic and free range, and the implications this can have on consumer decision-making.




Cleaning up down south: supermarkets, ethical trade and African horticulture


Freidberg S. 2003. Social & Cultural Geography 4(1): 27-43.


This paper explores the story of ethical food in supermarkets, and how the commodification of pre-packed vegetables, for example, has in some ways obscured the exploitation that occurs earlier in the life history of the product. Freidberg uses a narrative writing style to address this issue, as well as qualitative research conducted with UK supermarkets.




Fast food/organic food: reflexive tastes and the making of ‘yuppie chow’


Guthman J. 2003. Social & Cultural Geography 4(1): 45-58.


This paper explores the changing moral discourses surrounding food over time. This includes a discussion of organic systems of provision, demand and supply, to question whether organic foods are an alternative to industrially-produced goods. The paper questions a number of assertions about organic food production, telling the story through the example of one organic commodity in California – organic salad mix.




Re-naturalizing sugar: narratives of place, production and consumption


Hollander G. M. 2003. Social & Cultural Geography 4(1): 59-74.


With a focus on the history of one commodity, this article explores the political economy of the sugar trade. It explores the historical foundations of sugar production, and moves to the present day to look at supermarkets’ marketing of sugar. The paper also uses a case study of sugar producers in Florida to exemplify some of the earlier claims made.




The ethical complex of corporate food power


Freidberg S. 2004. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23: 513-531.


This paper focuses on ethical reforms in how and what food is provided by British supermarkets, as the result of pressure from the media and campaigns by non-government organisations. Three case studies of NGOs are used to show how the third sector is able to generate public interest in this area, forcing supermarkets to listen to their demands.




Humanising the cut flower chain: confronting the realities of flower production for workers in Kenya


Hale A. and Opondo M. 2005. Antipode 37(2): 301-23.


This article focuses on the cut flower trade in Kenya, particularly looking at the production chain and the impacts of these globalised production systems on women workers in the industry. The paper draws on qualitative research conducted with women regarding their role in this industry, and raises questions for company auditing processes.




Shared producer and consumer responsibility – theory and practice


Lenzen M. Murray J. Sack F. and Wiedmann T. 2007. Ecological Economics 61: 27-42.


As this paper explains, producer and consumer responsibility has become a growing topic for discussion, particularly in academic literatures. The paper explores different means and methods of measuring producer responsibility, and how responsibility may be shared by various economic actors.




Mobilizing consumers to take responsibility for global social justice


Micheletti M. and Stolle D. 2007. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 611(1): 157-175.


This article studies the antisweatshop movement’s involvement in global social justice responsibility-taking. The movement’s growth (more than one hundred diverse groups) makes it a powerful force of social change in the new millennium.

The rise of global corporate capitalism has taken a toll on political responsibility. As a response, four important movement actors—unions, antisweatshop associations, international humanitarian organizations, and Internet spin doctors—have focused on garment-production issues and mobilized consumers into vigilant action.

The authors examine these actors, their social justice responsibility claims, and their views on the role of consumers in social justice responsibility-taking.

The authors determine four paths of consumer action:

1) support group for other causes,

2) critical mass of shoppers,

3) agent of corporate change, and

4) ontological force for societal change.

The authors find that the movement mobilizes consumers through actor-oriented and event-specific (episodic) framing and offer a few results on its ability to change consumer patterns and effect corporate change. (Micheletti and Stolle, 2007 p.157)




Seduced or sceptical consumers? Organised action and the case of Fair Trade coffee


Webb J. 2007. Sociological Research Online 12 (3): np

This article uses the concept of ‘organised consumption’ to analyse the role of consumers in the global economy, namely the coffee industry. It shows how social movements have the potential to influence the behaviour and ethical supply chains of transnational businesses and corporations, using the example of fair trade coffee.




'Fair trade gold’: antecedents, prospects and challenges


Hilson G. 2008. Geoforum 39: 386-400.


This paper looks at the implementation of fair trade principles in the mining industry. Specifically, the paper focuses on gold mining, and the possibilities for increased living standards for gold miners, with an increasing Western industry for fair trade jewellery. The paper presents the case study of a community in Noyem, Ghana to explore the challenges of making fair trade gold mining a reality.




Hidden Hands in the Market: Ethnographies of Fair Trade, Ethical Consumption and Corporate Social Responsibility


de Neve G. 2008. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.

Book preview available here.


This collection of essays discusses a series of alternative perspectives - manifested in ethical movements, alternative consumer behaviour, and social corporate responsibility initiatives - that seek to reveal the 'hidden hands' of power, inequality and morality that shape market exchange. 

Twelve essays - all based on first-hand ethnographic studies of alternative trade movements, corporate social initiatives and consumer behaviour - provide the groundwork for wide-ranging theoretical engagement and comparative analysis.

The case studies cover a range of places, commodities and initiatives, including Fair Trade and organic production activism in Hungary, CSR discourses in South Africa and Europe, Fair Trade coffee in Costa Rica and handicrafts made in Indonesia.

The essays contribute to a series of current debates within the social sciences about what drives alternative market engagements, how they are understood and represented by different actors, and what makes their outcomes often ambivalent or contradictory.

The volume as a whole engages with questions about morality and the economy, the creation and circulation of value, and, ultimately, the possibility of making alternatives work.. The volume will be of particular interest to social scientists, business and management studies scholars, and a range of practitioners. (Amazon.com, 2010)




The Fair Trade Revolution


Bowes J. and Robinson M. (Eds) 2010. London: Pluto Press.


Fair Trade has come a long way in the last 20 years. The Fair Trade Revolution celebrates the movement's achievement and takes up the challenge of improving more lives through fair dealing with producers. Fair Trade is now mainstream, with large companies like Cadbury's and supermarkets such as Sainsbury's producing and stocking many Fair Trade products. The authors of this collection, many of whom were responsible for the initial success of Fair Trade, emphasise the importance of ensuring that farmers and other producers remain the main beneficiaries.




The A to Z of Corporate Social Responsibility


Tolhurst N. Pohl M. Matten D. and Visser W. 2010. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.

Book preview available here.


CSR has now moved beyond the stage of specialist or niche subject to become an integral part of global business and society. This timely edition is destined to become the definitive guide to CSR, Sustainability, Business Ethics and the organizations and standards in the field.

The book is a unique publication and is the culmination of over a hundred of the world's leading thinkers, opinion formers, academic and business people providing an easy-to-use guide to CSR: from general concepts such as sustainability, stakeholder management, business ethics and human rights to more specific topics such as carbon trading, microfinance, biodiversity, the Base of the Pyramid model and globalisation.

This book also covers all the most important codes and guidelines, such as the Equator Principles, the UN Global Compact and ISO standards, as well as providing background on organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Transparency International and profiles of CSR in particular industries and regions.

This paperback edition includes all the latest developments in CSR as well as incorporating new sections on boardroom pay, the sub-prime market and the financial crisis. (Google Books, 2010)




Dilemmas in Responsible Investment


Louche C. and Lydenberg S. 2011. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.


Dilemmas in Responsible Investment examines the problems responsible investment practitioners face daily. It emphasises the importance of asking the right questions as well as getting the right answers; and the importance of process as well as product. The authors pay attention to the diversity of opinion and variety of approaches available. They also raise fundamental questions about the very purpose of investment and the responsibilities of investors, both economic and societal.




Critical Perspectives on Fair Trade


Gibbon J. and Sliwa M. (Eds) 2012. Critical Perspectives on International Business SPECIAL ISSUE 8(4)


The multidimensional and contested nature of fair trade engagements demonstrate the difficulty of how to enact ethical, place-based and ecological concerns within the space of global commercial transactions involving diverse relationships (Raynolds, 2012). Whilst the enactment of the fair trade vision is still incomplete, it provides enormous opportunities for research into the development and reorganization of a social economy on a global scale. Nevertheless, calls for further research into the critical issues within fair trade still require responses. This special issue has partially gone towards answering these calls by offering four empirically based critical perspectives on fair trade that further add to the debates that are urgently needed to address some of the problems surrounding market-based solutions to global issues of poverty and inequality.


Articles in this special issue:

  • Fair enough? Women and Fair Trade by Louise McArdle, Pete Thomas (pp. 277-294)
  • Seeking to maintain the integrity of the fair trade model: a case study of Trade Aid importers by Christina Stringer (pp. 295-308)
  • Creating and maintaining Fair Trade: Meanings and practices of four Southern Fair Trade enterprises by Ann Le Mare (pp. 309-328)
  • The labour behind the (Fair Trade) label by Eileen Davenport, Will Low (pp. 329-348)




SSustainability in Fashion and Textiles: Values, Design, Production and Consumption


Gardetti M. A. and Torrest A. L. (Eds) 2013. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.


The textile industry – the production of clothing, fabrics and related products – plays a significant part in the global economy. It also frequently operates with disregard to its environmental and social impacts. The textile industry uses large quantities of water and outputs masses of waste. Socially, many unskilled jobs have disappeared in regions that rely heavily on these industries and textile industry companies are increasingly failing to offer job security and safety. This is without even considering the informal-sector work proliferating both in developing and developed countries. Child labour persists within this sector despite growing pressure to halt it. Fashion demands continuous consumption. For consumers seeking to own the latest trends, 'old' items become unwanted as quickly as new ones come into demand. This tendency towards disposability results in the increased use of resources and thus the accelerated accumulation of waste. It is obvious to many that current fashion industry practices are in direct competition with sustainability objectives; yet this is frequently overlooked. However, in recent years sustainbility in the fashion industry has been gaining attention – many believe that it should be held accountable. This book takes a wide-screen approach to the topic, covering among other issues: sustainability and business management in textile and fashion companies; value chain management; use of materials; sustainable production processes; fashion, needs and consumption; disposal; and innovation and design.