Facilitating Collective Action for Common Marketing - The influence of external actors’ support and leadership on collective action of small-scale pineapple producers in Ghana trying to access European export markets
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The study is based on the widely accepted assumption in scientific literature that functioning collective action of small-scale producers enhances their ability to access markets (Markelova et al. 2009, Hellin et al. 2009). Further, even stronger cooperation and more proactive market behaviour (robust collective action) are needed, if small-scale producers intent to reach high value markets (cf Väth 2008). Scholars of collective action theory have provided already a comprehensive set of factors which they consider to explain the occurrence of collective action. However, the theory almost neglected the influence of external actors trying to stimulate collective action. It also misses a comprehensive understanding of leadership and its effect on collective efforts. Thus, the purpose of this study is to gain further insights into the impact of external support and leadership on collective marketing activities to contribute to the further development of collective action theory. The research is based on a qualitative comparative case study research on six small-scale pineapple producer groups in Ghana which have been supported to attain a ‘group certification’ of the food safety and quality standard GLOBALG.A.P. in order to gain access to European markets. I opted for an explorative approach which is less concerned with the testing of causal relations; instead with the causal mechanism connecting the dependent and independent variables in focus. The empirical results of this study showed a mainly positive effect of external support and leadership on the occurrence of functioning collective action. First, external support has a stimulating effect on the collective action of producer groups. Especially, the advice on internal organization and management issues has a positive effect initiating collective efforts. Moreover, I found that technical support had an indirectly positive effect on the occurrence of collective action as it helped to enhance the economic potential of the groups which in turn encouraged a closer cooperation. Material or monetary contributions by contrast had beneficial as well as hampering effects on functioning collective action. Besides these findings, it was however not possible to find evidence that external support also contributes to the development of robust collective action. However, the causal relation between leadership and robust collective action showed to be distinct. Especially the skills and the initiative of leaders had a strong impact on the robustness of leadership. Further, the leader’s ability to motivate the other members proved to be important for the initiation of the group as well as sustenance during economically difficult situations. Less important are however the controlling functions of the leadership figure. In addition to the variables of external support and leadership, the collected field data strongly suggest that the current economic incentives, former market success, the small size of the group, its external reputation, the general level if education and resources as well as the design of the standard had a contributing effect to the development of robust collective action of the groups.