Multi-level governance in Ghana's cocoa value chain

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Nina Brandtoft Rasmussen
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)

Multinational corporations provide both good and bad things to society. They provide jobs and innovation but their activities can also have environmental and social side effects and from time to time we hear of yet another corporate scandal. The way in which business activities affect societies and how this can possibly be regulated constitutes a contentious and important public policy issue, as regulation of multinational corporations have proved nearly impossible for states. While international guidelines and frameworks on businesses' social responsibility have been developed and although corporations in general within the last few decades have improved in self-regulation of corporate social responsibility, scholars argue that a 'governance gap' still exists. Scholars such as David Held and James Rosenau argue that the state is no-longer the sole actor exerting authority and that actors from both the private, public and non-state arena govern and exert authority on an equal basis. This is known as multi-level governance and this is where this thesis takes its point of departure. The thesis is an examination of the CSR work the Danish chocolate manufacturer Toms Group conducts in Ghana's cocoa value chain in collaboration with state and non-state actors. Cocoa is a vital export crop for Ghana, but the cocoa value chain is afflicted by problems ranging from low production yield, ageing farmers, infrastructural problems, a general lack of interest among young people in becoming cocoa farmers and widespread use of child labour; the last mentioned something the Western media has put focus on recently and this has arguably affected consumer demands. The multi-level governance approach has been presented by e.g. UN officials as the most efficient and sustainable way to deal with global policy challenges such as corporate social responsibility, as the involved actors collaborate on an issue affecting them all and they possess different kinds of competences and legitimisation which I argue is advantageous in achieving the objectives. The problem statement centres around the advantages involved in the multi-level governance approach as regards the creation of shared value and the plugging of the aforementioned 'governance gap'. The shared value framework refers to the idea that businesses are able to create both societal and economic value through adopting societal issues at the core of their business. The method I use for examining the matter is semi-structured interviews with Toms Group and the partners IBIS, a Danish NGO as well as Danida, besides the theoretical framework consisting of the implications economic globalisation has for businesses, the shared value framework and the multi-level governance approach. The findings from my qualitative data show that the multi-level governance approach is effective as regards shared value creation as well as helpful in plugging the 'governance gap'. Accordingly, the results of the CSR work so far include training of around 800 teachers, the children are to a higher degree than before retained in the school instead of working on their parents' cocoa farms, farmers have received agricultural training and production has increased. The results moreover show that the respective actors, whom take on themselves governing roles in improving Ghana's cocoa value chain, help plugging the 'governance gap'. Although the multi-level governance approach in general can be deemed advantageous in creaitng shared value and help plug the 'governance gap', weaknesses are however also identified. These relate to the lack of accountability structures and the concern some scholars have of the increasing privatisation of governance, which the multi-level governance approach arguably also is a symbol of.

Publication date1 Oct 2013
Number of pages82
External collaboratorToms Gruppen A/S
Innovations og CSR manager Lene Hjort Lorenzen
Information group
IBIS Danmark
Anne-Margrethe Hefting
Information group
Danida / Danish Foreign Ministry
Linda Kafui Abbah-Foli
Information group
ID: 81357618