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Sustainability 2014, 6(10), 7388-7411; doi:10.3390/su6107388

Civil Society in Hybrid Governance: Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Legitimacy in Mediating Wal-Mart’s Local Produce Supply Chains in Honduras

Department of Youth, Family, and Community Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7606, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Received: 28 August 2014 / Revised: 8 October 2014 / Accepted: 14 October 2014 / Published: 23 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agricultural Governance)
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Abstract

This paper challenges the notion that the incorporation of actors from civil society into hybrid governance arrangements improves outcomes and legitimacy. Multi-stakeholder collaborations are a popular hybrid governance approach to development, including NGOs’ work to integrate smallholder farmers into supermarket supply chains. As a result, NGOs’ service provision role has expanded to include market facilitation, often necessitating NGOs act as market intermediaries. This paper explores how this new role may jeopardize NGOs’ organizational legitimacy in the eyes of their constituents, other development organizations, and supermarket partners, and therefore ultimately affect their ability to represent civil society in hybrid governance arrangements. Drawing on qualitative data collected in the Central American country of Honduras, this paper focuses on NGOs’ role organizing producer associations to facilitate access to Wal-Mart supermarkets. Findings suggest that a lack of supply chain transparency, NGOs’ negotiation between commercial and aid-oriented goals, and the potential to exclude producers from development projects threaten NGOs’ legitimacy. These findings illustrate the difficulties of embedding philanthropic activities in market-based systems, and demonstrate how multi-stakeholder collaborations may be influenced more by commercial priorities than the elements of a partnership. Ultimately, development NGOs are products of neoliberal, hybrid governance, even as their activities are expected to ease the transition of small-scale producers into this system. View Full-Text
Keywords: market-based development; supermarket retailers; Latin America; multi-stakeholder collaborations; organizational legitimacy; Wal-Mart market-based development; supermarket retailers; Latin America; multi-stakeholder collaborations; organizational legitimacy; Wal-Mart
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bloom, J.D. Civil Society in Hybrid Governance: Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Legitimacy in Mediating Wal-Mart’s Local Produce Supply Chains in Honduras. Sustainability 2014, 6, 7388-7411.

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