Sustainable Coffee: Neither markets nor labels nor shorter chains, but inclusive agreements. An Institutional Resource Regime analysis of Local Regulatory Arrangements in two Colombian regions.


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Sustainable Coffee: Neither markets nor labels nor shorter chains, but inclusive agreements. An Institutional Resource Regime analysis of Local Regulatory Arrangements in two Colombian regions.
Dussán López Pablo Andrés
Knoepfel Peter
Détails de l'institution
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de droit, des sciences criminelles et d'administration publique
Statut éditorial
Date de publication
Free markets encourage a highly-productive/low-cost coffee culture that denies farmers their expected
income; communities their required healthy environment, indigenous population their vital cultural
heritage, roasters their envisioned reputation; consumers their desired aromatic profile; NGO's their
claimed fairness; authorities their needed social cohesion, an so on. All of these deprivations are services
demanded from the Resource Coffee, which interested actors have tried to obtain by activating
institutions, such as voluntary sustainable standards based on private law, or organic labeling defined by
public law, among others. These institutions (dis)incentivize farmers, traders, roasters, and consumers to
behave differently than mandated by market forces.
Scholars have used the "lens of contract" to analyze the effectiveness of these institutions to provide a
normatively defined combination of economic, social and environmental services, namely the three
dimensions of sustainable development. However, the provision of such a combination can diminish the
provision of other services like the exceptional aromatic profile demanded by high-end roasters or the
cultural heritage demanded by the indigenous population. Expectedly, these deprived actors had
activated institutions to fight for their demanded services that could cancel the effect of the previously
activated institutions. The absence of a wide-accepted consensus of these institutional effects is not
We propose a different approach that evaluates the provision of services demanded by actors from the
Resource Coffee in a given time and space using the "lens of negotiation". How do actors enhance the
sustainable management of coffee, defined as the provision of this whole set of demanded services, by
reaching local regulatory agreements (LRA)? To answer this question, first, we evaluate which type of LRAs
optimize the level of services provision depending on the combined presence/absence of three
conditions: extent or the regulation of uses of the Resource; coherence or the governance mechanism;
and closure or the market power. Then, we explain the emergence of LRAs by actors' games
conceptualized as a sequence of three analytical dimensions: actors' coalition or the joint action agreed
by actors to tackle a shared threat for the provision of their demanded services; mobilization of action
resources or the observable engagement of actors in the political arena to activate institutions using a
closed-list of ten action resources; and institutional creativity or actors' capability to shape the final output
in order to incentivize the uses of the Resource needed to profile the demanded services. We selected
Riosucio and Buesaco, two Colombian municipalities where coffee sparked the highest quantity of services
for the highest quantity of actors in the most antagonistic way: whereas labels characterize the LRAs in
Riosucio, shorter chains feature those in Buesaco.
Our results suggest that an agreement for the sustainable management of coffee at the local level
depends on four conditions: a coalition of a small group of collective actors that represent the whole set
of actors interested in services from the resource; the collective actors aggregate individuals exclusively
interested in services from the resource at the same perimeter and; actors privilege a power-balanced
initial stage of negotiation in which all of them could put forward their demand for services; and, an
agreement on a minimum set of rules to avoid the institutional complexity trap.
Sustainability, Institutional Resource Regime, Value Chains, Coffee, Comparative Analysis, Sustainable Development.
Création de la notice
26/09/2019 14:20
Dernière modification de la notice
29/01/2020 13:47
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