Data from a longitudinal study into the key management success factors in the fair trade industry provide insights into the essential nature of inter-organizational alliances and networks in creating the profitable and growing fair trade market in the UK. Drawing on three case studies and extensive industry interviews, we provide an interpretive perspective on the organizational relationships and business networks and the way in which these have engendered success for UK fair trade companies. Three types of benefit are derived from the networks: competitive developments through virtual integration in which the organizations remain flexible and small while projecting size to the market; intellectual developments through the sharing of intellectual capital with a diverse network of organizations in many fields; and ideological developments through an ideological network of like-minded individuals by which the companies can prevent the co-opting of the original purpose of fair trade. However, relative success at leveraging these benefits is influenced by three managerial factors: partner choice, partner use and partner management.
- fair trade
- alliances and networks