Do co-operative dominated regions adapt better and collaborate more? The case of coffee in Costa Rica

Authors: Thomas Douthat*, Georgia Tech University - ATLANTA, GA
Topics: Economic Geography, Latin America, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: coffee, resilience, adaptation, networks, clusters, land use
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Previous research on global value chains suggests success emerges in part from collaboratively structured industry governance linked to more open knowledge and policy networks. Moreover, cooperatives tend to be more locally embedded than similar firms linked to footloose capital, which raises the question of how variations in institutions and knowledge networks at the level of local clusters effected resilience in global value chains.

This work explores whether coffee producing sub-clusters, akin to AVAs or DOCs in wine, where the lead firms are cooperatively owned and operated mills, have measurably different knowledge networks to those dominated by private firms, and whether these networks variations help to explain resilience in global value chains. I document adaptation in four Costa Rican coffee regions between 2003 (after a global price trough) to 2013 (after a price peak), a crucial time of global re-organization.

To test this hypothesis, I use a mixed methods approach, which includes a regression model of land use change and the national level, and two pairs of comparative case studies selected by the institutional structure of leading local mills (cooperative v. multinational) and natural conditions for producing coffee. The mixed method case studies use social network analysis methods garnered from a comprehensive survey in each sub-cluster, along with coded interview data regarding collaboration and adaptation regarding market, production, and environmental practices. By triangulating results from descriptive data, network structure, and qualitative sources, I describe patterns in how different institutional actors contribute to local governance networks, and adaptive capacity.

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