Fair Tea - Private Sector's Role in Kenyan Tea Fair Trade Standards and their Impact on Sustainable Development

Felix Strauss

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis examines the governance of fair trade multi-stakeholder initiatives that are embedded in global value chains in order to deduct their relevance to – and impact on sustainable development. For this purpose, this thesis analyses fair trade MSIs pertaining to the Kenyan tea value chain to empirically investigate the role of the private sector within these initiatives as well as these initiatives’ subsequent impact on the conditions of Kenyan tea farmers and workers. On the one hand, the impact analysis focuses on deriving the economic, social and environmental effects on workers’ conditions in the Kenyan tea value chain that work in adherence to this standard. On the other hand, the results from this impact analysis are then applied to six Sustainable Development Goals deemed relevant to the Kenyan tea sector to assess the selected MSIs’ contribution to the SDGs. Initially this thesis set out to investigate six fair trade MSIs, but two of them had to be disregarded. The four fair trade MSIs that informed the analysis are the Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International, Ethical Trading Initiative and Ethical Tea Partnership. All four set social, economic and environmental standards governing fair and ethical trade. Hassan and Lund-Thomsen’s (2017) novel methodology and analytical framework for combining research on the governance dimensions of MSIs with these dimensions’ impact formed the methodological basis for this thesis. The literature review and theory chapter delves into relevant literature to assess the current knowledge and development in the fields of MSIs, global value chains, corporate social responsibility and the SDGs. All of these concepts will be used to inform the analysis employed in this thesis. The findings relate to the private sector’s role in the four selected fair trade MSIs in the Kenyan tea sector on the one hand. On the other hand, the analysis focuses on assessing the impact of these MSIs on workers and farmers in the Kenyan tea value chain. This is achieved by examining these MSIs’ impact on sustainable development, meaning the social, economic and environmental effects on workers’ conditions as well as the impact on the SDGs. This thesis is structured as follows. First, an introduction chapter presents the crucial concepts in this thesis as well as the research focus leading to the research question. Second, a methodology chapter outlines the research methods and data collection and analysis techniques employed in this paper. Third, the literature review and theory chapter examines the latest developments in the fields of MSIs, GVCs, CSR and the SDGs. Then, the analysis focuses on answering the research question and subquestions by assessing the findings of the research before drawing conclusions. Finally, this thesis provides recommendations for future research.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages103
SupervisorsLotte Thomsen