Archives mensuelles : mai 2017

Why coffee and not honey – untangling the limits and opportunities for certifying the ‘moral quality’ of products, by Jan-Christoph Janssen

PhD thesis defended the 29th may 2017, under the supervision of Sigfrid Quack and Christine Trampusch, Universität zu Köln

Why did Fair Trade take momentum in some industries within certain national contexts and not in others? In this thesis, I apply the arguments of H. C. White, Tilly, Fligstein and McAdam in order to understand the success and failure of applying similar standards to various product markets through one certificate. Four national settings and seven product categories are compared – coffee, cocoa, bananas, sugar, rice, wine, and honey in Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the USA are chosen and analyzed between the years 2002 and 2011. The effects of the discourse and structural preconditions (i.e. oligopolies) are analyzed in concert through the application of fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). I investigate the role of firms and social movements in the process of change. Two equifinal paths to change in markets are theorized and analyzed. One of those paths is driven by institutional entrepreneurship, the other by social movements. The findings of the fsQCA back the perspective of social movements and institutional entrepreneurship as substitutive drivers of change in markets and the two paths. Less successful attempts to penetrate markets though certification lack the discourse and the focus of single firms or entrepreneurs within the discourse. In addition, the evidence pinpoints to changing processes over time and the need to move beyond static analyses. This study contributes to the current state of the art by offering a comparative perspective on the effect of social movements and institutional entrepreneurship on mature markets. In this vein, fsQCA is applied deductively and the concepts and paths are disentangled in a compelling manner. INUS conditions are theorized as constitutive parts of paths to change. Finally, this study compares the opportunities and fallacies of penetrating markets through certification in general – and Fair Trade certification in particular.

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The Concept of Development Conventions: Some Suggestions for a Research Agenda

David Dequech (2017)

Journal of Economic Issues, 51:2, p. 285-296.

Abstract. Development conventions are broadly defined as socially shared systems of rules of thought or behavior (institutions) regarding development, with the properties of conformity with conformity and arbitrariness. Conformity with conformity means that the fact that others have adopted a convention, or are expected to adopt it, plays a role in leading someone else to adopt it. Arbitrariness means that a non-inferior alternative exists or is conceivable. This article identifies several social mechanisms through which the conformity of others leads one to conform. It also relates arbitrariness to the possibility of assessing development from various viewpoints, to the inconclusiveness of evidence, and to uncertainty about future consequences.

Link to the article via JIE

Link to the article via ResearchGate

Meat your enemy. Animal rights, alignment, and radical change

Glen Whelan & Jean-Pascal Gond (2017)

Journal of Management Inquiry, 26(2), pp. 123–138.

Abstract. Radical change can be conceived in terms of the reconceiving of ontological distinctions, such as those separating humans from animals. In building on insights from French pragmatism, we suggest that, while no doubt very difficult, radical change can potentially be achieved by creating “alignment” between multiple “economies of worth” or “common worlds” (e.g., the market world of money, the industrial world of efficiency). Using recent campaigns by animal rights organizations as our case, we show how the design of “tests” (e.g., tests of profitability, tests of efficiency) can help align multiple common worlds in support for radical change. Our analysis contributes to the broader management and organization studies literatures by conceiving radical change in terms of changing ontological categorizations (e.g., human/animals vs. sentient/ non-sentient), and by proposing that radical social change agents can be helpfully conceived as opportunistically using events to cumulatively justify the change they desire overtime.

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Marketing and compromising for sustainability. Competing orders of worth in the North Atlantic

John H. Finch, Susi Geiger & Rachel Joy Harkness (2017)

Marketing Theory, 17(1), pp. 71-93.

Abstract. The purpose of our article is to propose that compromising is a constitutive characteristic of those marketing systems that entail matters of public interest or concern. In such markets, actors design compromises as they encounter criticisms of and contending justifications for the market’s products, as these refer to price, efficiency in production and use, regulatory compliance or ecological sustainability. Tests and justifications are vital in order to determine what is valuable and by which measure. As a theory framework, the economic sociology of conventions provides a basis for assessing these contests, compromises, and justifications over the issue of worth in a marketing context. Through an ethnographic study of the regulated activities of chemicals service companies supporting the upstream petroleum industry, we assess how actors evaluate and justify the market’s products and services in this environmentally sensitive setting by means of tests drawing from different orders of worth: the green, the industrial and the market order. Our contributions show that by artful and pragmatic compromising around exchanges, actors in marketing systems can balance several conflicting orders of worth over the question of worth without needing to converge on an overriding institutional logic.

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Panel « Convention » at the upcoming AFEP congress

At the AFEP congress 2017 (5-7 July) at Rennes 2 (Campus Villejean) there will a session devoted to (applications of) convention theory.

The session « Conventions » will take place Wednesday 5th of July (14-15.30, Room 1.147) and it will be headed by Nicolas Da Silva (CEPN, University of Paris 13)

  • Christian Bessy (IDHES, Ecole normale supérieure de Cachan)
    Conventions de valorisation des brevets et intermédiaires du droit
  • Pierre Robert (Clersé, U. Lille 1)
    Une analyse conventionnaliste de la pauvreté énergétique à partir de l’action publique sénégalaise dans l’énergie
  • Alain Herscovici (CNPq, U. Federal do Espirito Santo)
    L’historicité du capital : quelques considérations d´ordre épistémologique

Registration is possible until 1st of June, see congress home page


Les mutuelles de santé dans l’extension de la couverture maladie au Sénégal. Une lecture par les conventions et l’économie sociale et solidaire, par Juliette Alenda

Thèse soutenue le 17 mai 2017 sous la direction de Bruno Boidin

Cette thèse aborde la question du potentiel des mutuelles comme base de la protection de la santé en Afrique. Le contexte est celui des régimes actuels de couverture maladie en Afrique de l’Ouest et centrale, hérités de modèles occidentaux, qui ne couvrent qu’une petite partie de la population, les travailleurs du secteur dit formel. Les gouvernements de ces pays se sont engagés dans l’extension de leurs couvertures maladies afin de fournir un accès universel aux soins. Depuis deux décennies, les mutuelles de santé se développent dans cette zone et sont devenues, dans certains pays, des piliers de cette extension. Mais, au regard des évolutions constatées, elles connaissent des difficultés importantes qui freinent leur développement. La littérature se concentre principalement sur les aspects opérationnels et financiers. En nous plaçant dans le contexte du Sénégal, notre thèse vise à montrer que cette vision est restrictive et laisse de côté les dimensions politiques et socioculturelles. En nous appuyant sur la littérature académique et celle des institutions, des entretiens semi-directifs et des études de cas, nous mettons en évidence deux explications principales à la stagnation des mutuelles de santé dans ce pays : un manque d’adhésion des populations qui provient d’une absence de compréhension de leur perception de la mutualité et de la santé, et l’influence des rapports de force entre les divers acteurs impliqués dans l’extension de la couverture maladie. La mobilisation de l’économie des conventions et de la littérature sur l’ESS permet de mettre en perspective ces obstacles et de montrer que les mutuelles ne devraient pas résulter d’un processus « clé en main ».

Jury :

M. Philippe BATIFOULIER, Professeur, Université Paris 13 (Rapporteur)
M. Bruno BOIDIN, Maître de conférences/HDR, Université Lille 1, directeur de thèse
M. Hervé DEFALVARD, Maître de conférences/HDR, Université Paris-Est Marne-La-Vallée, rapporteur
M. Fred EBOKO, Chargé de recherche 1ère Classe/HDR, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
Mme Florence JANY-CATRICE, Professeur, Université Lille 1

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Mutual health insurance in the context of expanding health coverage in Senegal : a reading by the conventions and the social and solidarity economy

This thesis addresses the idea of mutual health organizations (MHOs) as a foundation for health protection in Africa. Current health coverage schemes in West and Central Africa, inherited from Western models, include only a small part of the population, the so-called formal sector. The governments of these countries have engaged in expanding coverage to provide universal access to health care. For two decades, MHOs have developed in this area and have become, in some countries, the pillar of this expansion. But, in light of observed trends, there are significant problems restricting the development of mutual insurance. The literature mainly focuses on operational and financial aspects. In the context of Senegal, our thesis is to show that this vision is restrictive and ignores the political and socio-cultural dimensions. Building on the literature from institutions, academic literature, semi-structured interviews and case studies, we highlight two main explanations for the stagnation of MHOs in this country: a lack of support of the population due to a deficiency in understanding their perception about mutuality and health; and the influence of power between the various actors involved in the health coverage expansion. Mobilizing the economy of conventions and literature on the SSE, we put these obstacles into perspective and show that MHOs should not result from a « turnkey » process.



Proposition d’un sujet de thèse en économie dans le cadre du Concours d’accès aux contrats doctoraux des établissements d’enseignement supérieur

Directeur de thèse : Christian Bessy, IDHE.S ENS Paris-Saclay,
Contact :

Titre : Le rôle des conseils en propriété industrielle dans la valorisation des brevets et la construction des marchés de technologie

Mots-clefs : Conseil en brevet, marchés de technologie, évaluation, politique d’innovation

Il existe aujourd’hui une littérature abondante sur le rôle des intermédiaires dans la construction des marchés de technologie, littérature qui se renouvelle aujourd’hui du fait du développement de plateformes numériques d’innovation ouverte. Mais peu est dit sur la place des conseils en propriété industrielle dans la construction de ces marchés de technologie et des différentes fonctions qu’ils accomplissent allant bien au-delà de la rédaction et du dépôt de brevet : mise en relation et rédaction des accords de licence, évaluation des titres de propriété industrielle, règlement des litiges en contrefaçon. Suivant une approche institutionnaliste en économie, ils participent à l’équipement des marchés en contribuant à la définition des catégories juridiques mais aussi des conventions en matière d’évaluation des titres de propriété industrielle et de langage de description des inventions techniques. Cette analyse pourrait s’inscrire dans l’écriture d’une histoire économique contemporaine du droit de la propriété industrielle prenant pleinement en compte le rôle de ces intermédiaires à côté de celui des juristes et des économistes (et des ingénieurs). Il s’agit de comprendre plus précisément depuis les années 1980 l’hyper valorisation que connaît le système de brevet et sa critique récente en matière d’innovation, au nom d’un « retour des communs », en examinant une voie explicative autre que celle qui repose sur le laxisme des offices de propriété industrielle conduisant les examinateurs à accorder des brevets de mauvaise qualité.

Le travail empirique commencerait par une série d’interviews auprès de ces intermédiaires avec la visée de déboucher sur une enquête statistique concernant leur mode d’organisation. Le doctorant pourrait s’appuyer dans un premier temps sur l’annuaire des Conseils en propriété industrielle qui permettrait de réaliser une première cartographie de ces intermédiaires (taille du cabinet, région d’implantation, activités (brevet, marque, dessin et modèle)). Dans un deuxième temps, l’idée serait de construire un échantillon représentatif de ces cabinets de conseil pour leur adresser un questionnaire statistique permettant d’appréhender les formes d’organisation et de gestion de leurs activités, ainsi que leurs stratégies de développement.

Différents indicateurs statistiques permettraient d’éclairer l’action collective de régulation de cette profession et de sa fusion éventuelle avec la profession d’avocats qui existe dans différents pays européens mais qui n’a pas vu le jour en France, malgré des tentatives allant de ce sens depuis une douzaine d’années.

The role of the industrial property attorneys in the valuation of patents and the construction of technology markets

Key words: Patent agents, markets for technology, valuation, innovation policy

Today there is an abundant literature on the role of intermediaries in building markets for patented technology. But little is said about the role of industrial property attorneys in the construction of these markets for technology and different functions they perform well beyond writing and filing of patent: matching between licensor and licensee and design of licensing agreements, assessment of industrial property titles, infringement litigation. Following an institutionalist approach in economics, they participate in the equipment of markets for technology contributing to the definition of the legal categories but also conventions of valuation of the titles of industrial property. This analysis could register in writing a contemporary economic history of the law of industrial property taking full account of the role of these intermediaries beside that of lawyers and economists (and engineers). It comes to understand more precisely since the 1980s the hyper development that knows the patent system and its recent criticism, on behalf of a ‘return of the Commons’, by examining one explanatory path other than that based on the laxity of the industrial property offices driving examiners to grant patents of poor quality. The empirical work would begin with a series of interviews with these intermediaries with the aim to lead to a statistical survey regarding their mode of organization, the way they develop their activities and they manage different resources or assets.

The Theoretical Connection Between John R. Commons and Regulation and Convention Theories

Hiroyuki Uni and  Takayuki Nakahara (2017)

In: Uni, Hiroyuki (ed.) (2017): Contemporary Meanings of John R. Commons’s Institutional  Economics. Singapore: Springer, pp. 141-163.

Abstract. After discussing the uniqueness of Dewey’s philosophy in relation to (1) the world’s plurality and multiplicity, (2) the primary significance of multifarious interactions, and (3) the interrelation between habit and intelligence, we clarify the uniqueness of Commons’s institutional economics: (1) value theory based on multiple causation; (2) transactions as the ultimate unit of analysis; and (3) the interrelation between habitual assumption and collective action. We examine the theoretical connection between Commons and regulation and convention theories. The former partly shares and develops the first characteristic listed above, multiple causation, while the latter shares and develops the third characteristic, the interrelation between habitual assumption and collective action. In Institutional Economics (Commons, J.R., Institutional economics: Its place in political economy. Macmillan, New York, 1934), applying the idea of “multiple causation,” Commons approached macrodynamics based on the expansion of some key concepts and studies on income distribution and demand growth. This was a prototype of growth analysis based on the cumulative causation model with various forms of coordination, later formulated as regulation theory. Commons, following and developing Dewey’s theory of habit and intelligence, created the concept of “habitual and customary assumptions” and discussed a collective process for achieving “reasonable values,” such as the common-law method. Two-layered coordination in convention theory attempted to explain the psychological means and social mechanisms involved in the persistence of customs and institutions, which Commons briefly mentioned. Using Commons’s theory as a medium, it may be possible to articulate the macrodynamics developed by regulation theory and the micro theory of human interaction developed by convention theory.

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Dispositiv und Ökonomie. Diskurs- und dispositivanalytische Perspektiven auf Märkte und Organisationen

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Ronald Hartz (eds.) (2017)

Wiesbaden: Springer VS

Der vorliegende Band bietet einen aktuellen Überblick über die Vielzahl neuerer sozialwissenschaftlicher Forschungen zur Bedeutung, Funktion und Theorie von Dispositiven in und für die Ökonomie. Denn die Ökonomie ist „instrumentiert“ – Organisationen und Märkte sind durchzogen und ausgestattet mit Objekten, Materialitäten, Technologien, Diskursen und Subjektivierungsweisen, deren spezifische Verknüpfungen die Ökonomie hervorbringen. Für die Analyse der Dispositive muss „Ökonomie“ daher notwendig transdisziplinär gefasst werden, gerade um die bisher weitgehende Ausblendung von Dispositiven in der Analyse von Märkten und Organisationen zu überwinden und diese durch neuartige theoretische aber auch vielfältige methodologische Zugänge zu erschließen. Diese Erschließung der materiellen und immateriellen Ausstattung der Ökonomie erfolgt nun nicht nur transdisziplinär, sondern auch international. Der Band präsentiert Beiträge von Forschenden aus Deutschland, Frankreich, Großbritannien und der Schweiz.

Link to the book