- freely available
Sustainability 2014, 6(10), 7388-7411; https://doi.org/10.3390/su6107388
2. Background Literature
2.1. Hybrid Governance and Civil Society
2.2. Civil Society and the Role of NGOs
In its most common use, it claims that the organization is doing good for the development of others. The label has a moral component. Precisely because it is doing good, the organization can make a bid to access funding and public representation. (p. 290)
2.3. New Roles of NGOs in Hybrid Governance and Market-Based Development
2.4. A Framework for Analyzing the Legitimacy of NGOs
2.4.1. Step 1: Cognitive Legitimacy
2.4.2. Step 2: Sociopolitical (Pragmatic and Moral) Legitimacy
2.4.3. Step 3: Legitimacy Crises
These new social enterprise institutions can no longer be considered as NGOs in the traditional sense of the term. Yet, these institutions are also neither wholly state- nor wholly market-driven. They combine a commercial and a social logic in their operations which allows them to play a role which is not open to either the state or the market. (p. 1760)
3. Wal-Mart in Honduras: Context and Methods
|Association Pseudonym||Number of NGO/Agency Representatives Interviewed||Years Association Has Been Operating||Markets Association Sold To||Number of Producer Members in Association||Number of Producer Members Interviewed||Average Years Interviewed Producers Sold to Association|
|Producers’ Association A||3||5||Hortifruti||45||3||1|
|Producers’ Association B||2||3||Other Supermarkets (Hortifruti Once)||120 (15–25 full time)||3||3|
|Producers’ Association C||2||3||Hortifruti and Other Supermarkets||116||1||3|
|Producers’ Association D||1||5||Other Supermarket (Individuals sold directly to Hortifruti)||100||3||2|
4.1. Supply Chain Transparency: Challenges to Cognitive Legitimacy
We agreed upon a price, more or less. At the moment of delivery, they don’t take all of the product, or they don’t want to pay the agreed upon price they didn’t fulfill the agreement, and there are many, here in Honduras, who are unhappy with Wal-Mart on this level. One time they left me with 60,000 pounds of product. They placed the order and then they said no. Just like that, out of nowhere.
Look, last year I lost quite a bit of [product]. I mean, I had a market that was supposedly formal, but then at the last minute what ends up affecting you sometimes are the employees who work for a business. They tell you they’re going to take it, or you have a harvesting plan. And then at the last minute, they say, look, we’re not going to be able to. (Emphasis added)
There’s nothing signed, but it’s a commitment. They support us with inputs, credits for inputs, everything on the technical side. So that’s where you enter into a commitment and say, “I’m committed to them because they give me assistance, and they give me economic support with inputs,” Of course, it’s an agreement and you try to honor that. Because it’s not possible that after they give you a hand, you don’t respond with your product.
4.2. Commercial and Non-Profit Goals: Challenges to Cognitive and Moral Legitimacy
Of course there’s a lot of competition there, since this is a massive publicity campaign, right? So of course they [Hortifruti] said, I don’t know how an organization like yours could be tied to our competition. And you know, they’re right. I mean, I’d feel the same way. (Emphasis added)
it’s just that they, it’s like they want to own you. And they tell you that you have to sell to them and you can’t sell to anyone else. So they close off that avenue of income. But our organization, we’re an NGO that’s directly an NGO, so for us there’s no problem. (Emphasis added)
Hortifruti’s come out and actually got nasty saying, well, you know, why do you call yourselves a non-profit organization, you’re out here picking up production from these other producers, but they’re not your farmers anymore. (Emphasis added)
4.3. Issues of Market Exclusion: Challenges to Sociopolitical Legitimacy
The problem is, the same goal that we have as a project doesn’t allow us much leeway with people who don’t comply. Because strictly speaking, over time they have to reach a certain income level. If you see that certain people, because of the way they work, aren’t going to reach that level, then it’s best to withdraw assistance. So, yeah, you have to make decisions, and that’s the part that nobody likes, but you do it.
It’s not that we’re exclusive, but just imagine. We’re 116 producers. And we have a very reduced market here. If we have more members, if we expand the association, it means we’d have a lot more [product] than we have and we wouldn’t have this market. This is the problem. More than anything this is the problem we’ve faced and why we don’t accept more members.
Instead of assuming that all NGOs are guided by principled beliefs and serve as agents of social change, scholars need to carefully examine their motivations and the context in which they function (Prakash and Gugerty 2010a). This can lead to a more realistic and nuanced assessment of NGOs as a category of political actors with their own share of limitations and compromises. (p. 23)
Conflicts of Interest
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- Although not specified in Figure 1, in the sample for this study the producers’ association that had a more exclusive relationship with Hortifruti was facilitated by an NGO that primarily received US funding, while the producers’ association that had a more formal arrangement with another supermarket was organized by an NGO that received most of its funding from European governments. In general, producers’ associations have emerged as a popular rural development model [3,9], and while some in Honduras were formed specifically as part of a project where Wal-Mart was involved, others were more closely associated with other development projects and supermarkets. See the methods section for more details on the producers’ associations for this study.
- These included employees who worked directly with the specific producers’ association described here (as either a production manager, administrator or marketing coordinator), as well as employees who worked for the NGO at a national scale, and therefore were responsible for overseeing several producers’ associations.
- In general, the focus on producers’ associations was a theme that emerged during the course of fieldwork, and therefore the fieldwork did not necessarily revolve specifically around constructing an equivalent sample for each association. An additional 10 representatives of facilitating organizations and 22 producers were interviewed as part of this research project, although they were not formally connected with producer associations. While these participants’ experiences inform the overall analysis and interpretation of the subject of this paper, in interest of time and space, their perspectives are not specifically reflected in the subsequent analysis. In general, producers in this sample who did not sell through associations were either large enough not to need NGO assistance, or alternately lacked the capacity to sell to supermarket channels.
- All interviews were conducted, transcribed and analyzed in the original Spanish language (with the exception of one interview that was done in English, according to the native language of the research respondent). The author relied on her prior experience as a certified translator (certified by the Organización Mexicana de Traductores in Spanish to English), and the counsel of a Honduran research assistant, to translate all research instruments, analyze the text and translate the quotations that are presented in subsequent sections.
- In cases when Hortifruti rejected produce, it was done at the moment of delivery, often after producers had waited in the receiving line for several hours. Due to the perishable nature of the product, when product was rejected, it reduced producers’ negotiating capacity, leading them to accept lower prices in search of a new market.
- Under the terms of the fideicomiso, a local bank provided credit to producers, the NGO provided technical assistance, and at the moment of sale the supermarket automatically repaid the bank before returning the rest of the profits to the producer.
- While producers in these associations were free to find other intermediaries or sell the product to local markets, the NGO that was affiliated with Producers’ Association A didn’t provide the same level of marketing facilitation for alternate markets, and producers in this association didn’t have access to other supermarket marketing channels. A similar situation is noted by Hospes and Clancy, who note that some producers may choose not to be included in high value supply chains, but that this choice can affect their access to resources and support .
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