Date of Completion


Embargo Period



East Timor, Fair Trade, Historical Institutionalism, Nicaragua, Social Welfare

Major Advisor

Shareen Hertel

Associate Advisor

Oksan Bayulgen

Associate Advisor

Lyle Scruggs

Associate Advisor

Bradley Simpson

Associate Advisor

Debanuj Dasgupta

Field of Study

Political science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


This dissertation provides a comparative analysis of the historical development of transnational fair trade networks in Nicaragua and East Timor. By examining the formation of certified fair trade coffee organizations, this project aims to better explain why there is variation in the outcomes of this seemingly standardized global development strategy. Drawing on the social welfare literature, particularly of Gough and Wood's informal security regime framework (2006), local organizations are classified by political economy characteristics into four distinct development types. I then trace the processes of the historical development of these organizations using a variety of qualitative methods including participatory observation, in-depth interviews, and a field survey of members of fair trade cooperatives. The argument is that fair trade organizations embody semi-rigid, identifiable institutional configurations or pathways. These fair trade pathways, in turn, provide a conceptual tool for explaining variation and comparing impacts across social contexts.