This thesis analyses fair trade as a concept and a praxis that are multidimensional: trade belongs to the area of the economy; support to the producers belongs to the social field; and education, regulation and advocacy belong to the political sphere. All fair trade organisations share their contribution to a dynamic of social innovation through new forms of socio-economic partnerships with producers in the South, but the organisational forms and practices that this social innovation takes concretely are extremely diverse. This thesis carries out a thorough analysis of the situation in four European regions and proposes a typology of organisational forms of fair trade organisations. On the basis of a theoretical framework combining "neo-institutional approaches" in economy and sociology, it highlights the factors that account for this diversity and the consequences of the latter on the evolution of the sector. The thesis concludes that the institutional choice has a strategic character and it puts forward some recommendations for the evolution of the various types of organisations.
2005-2009 (thesis), then 2010-2011 (post-doc)
Prof. Jacques Defourny (HEC-ULg), Prof. François Pichault (HEC-ULg), Prof. Leonardo Becchetti (Università di Roma "Tor Vergata"), Prof. Corinne Gendron (Université du Québec à Montréal) and Prof. Alex Nicholls (Saïd Business School, University of Oxford).