Geography ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2018


A diversity of public and private initiatives strive to address the human-environment challenges confronting the global coffee industry, including certifications like Fairtrade, direct trade sourcing models, and efforts led by NGOs. Research examines the outcomes of major certification programs and the private initiatives of corporations like Starbucks. Much less is known about the business practices of the small specialty coffee businesses that increasingly advertise sustainable business practices. Yet, their collective business practices likely influence the industry-wide efforts to achieve a sustainable supply chain. This research examines how small specialty coffee roasting and importing companies represent their socially responsible business practices through discourses of partnership, responsibility, and sustainability. Through critical analyses, I elucidate the limitations of voluntary, market-based solutions to the industry's human-environment challenges and consider alternative avenues to achieve supply-chain sustainability, including greater institutional oversight and the possible inclusion of small companies in multi-stakeholder initiatives.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Ronda Brulotte

Second Committee Member

Manuel Montoya

Third Committee Member

Chris Duvall

Document Type





coffee, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, institutional analysis