A cross case synthesis of the social and economic development of three Guatemalan coffee cooperatives

Keywords: social capital, impacts, networks, international development


Cooperatives in the international coffee sector can help build farmer capacity, increase coffee productivity, and improve farmer welfare. The purpose of this research was to examine Guatemalan coffee cooperatives to determine unique attributes, social capital perspectives, and social impacts on small holder farmers. Four perspectives on social capital and economic development were examined across cases: (a) the communitarian view, (b) the networks view, (c) the institutional view, and (d) the synergy view. The research design was mini-ethnographic case study with cross-case synthesis. The emerging themes were (a) economic impacts, (b) multiple generation farmers, (c) capacity building trainings to improve crop management, (d) use of shade trees and organic matter for soil amendments, (e) service learning/agritourism, and (f) use of microloans to enhance economic development. Based upon the exploratory cases, each community had similar and unique internal and external interactions that could be triangulated with social capital perspectives. Networks were formed between members of the co-ops (intracommunity) giving a sense of community and purpose (i.e. agritourism, service learning) and external sources (i.e. workshops/trainings and a USAID research plot). The concept of social capital perspective gives insight into an explanation of economic development.


Download data is not yet available.


Aguilar‐Støen, M., Taylor, M., & Castellanos, E. (2016). Agriculture, land tenure, and international migration in rural Guatemala. Journal of Agrarian Change, 16(1), 123-144. https://doi.org/10.1111/joac.12091

Aldrich, D. P., & Meyer, M. A. (2015). Social capital and community resilience. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(2), 254–269. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764214550299

Avelino, J., Cristancho, M., Georgiou, S., Imbach, P., Aguilar, L., Bornemann, G., Läderach, P., Anzueto, F., Hruska, A. J., & Morales, C. (2015). The coffee rust crises in Colombia and Central America (2008-2013): Impacts, plausible causes and proposed solutions. Food Security, 7, 303-321. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-015-0446-9

Blockland, K., & Gouet, C. (2007). Peer-to-peer farmer support for economic development. In Producer Organization and Market Chains. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Central Intelligence Agency. (2019). World factbook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/attachments/summaries/GT-summary.pdf

Diaz, H. L, Drumm, R. D., Ramirez-Johnson, J. & Oidjarv, H. (2002). Social capital, economic development and food security in Peru’s mountain region. International Social Work, 45(4), 481-495. https://doi.org/10.1177/00208728020450040601

Fischer, E. F., & Victor, B. (2014). High-end coffee and smallholding growers in Guatemala. Latin American Research Review, 49(1), 155-177. https://doi.org/10.1353/lar.2014.0001

Fusch, P. I., Fusch, G. E., & Ness, L. R. (2017). How to conduct a mini-ethnographic case study: A guide for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 22(3), 923-941.

Glenane-Antoniadis, A., Whitwell, G., Bell, S. J., & Menguc, B. (2003). Extending the vision of social marketing through social capital theory: Marketing in the context of intricate exchange and market failure. Marketing Theory, 3(3), 323–343. https://doi.org/10.1177/147059310333002

Holloway, I., Brown, L., & Shipway, R. (2010). Meaning not measurement: Using ethnography to bring a deeper understanding to the participant experience of festivals and events. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 1(1), 74-85. https://doi.org/10.1108/17852951011029315

International Co-operative Alliance. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.ica.coop/en.

Lopez-Riadura, S., Barba-Escoto, L., Reyna, C., Hellin, J., Gerard, B., & van Wijk, M. (2019). Food security and agriculture in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Food Security, 11(4), 817-833. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-019-00940-z

Lyon, S. (2013). Coffee tourism and community development in Guatemala. Human Organization, 72(3), 188-198. https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.72.3.00l1g4xj1m83x68j

Ortega, D., Bro, A., Clay, D., Lopez, M., Tuyisenge, E., Church, R., & Bizoza, A. (2019). Cooperative membership and coffee productivity in Rwanda’s specialty coffee sector. Food Security, 11(4), 967-979. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-019-00952-9

Ruben, R., & Heras, J. (2012). Social capital, governance and performance of Ethiopian coffee cooperatives. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 83(4), 463-484. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8292.2012.00473.x

White, K. L. (2009). Meztizaje and remembering in Afro-Mexican communities of the Costa Chica: Implications for archival education in Mexico. Archival Science, 9, 43-55. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-009-9102-5

Woolcock, M., & Narayan, D. (2000). Social capital: Implications for development theory, research, and policy. The World Bank Research Observer, 15(2), 225-249. https://doi.org/10.1093/wbro/15.2.225

Yangmin, K., & Cannella, A. A. (2008). Toward a social capital theory of director selection. Corporate Governance, 16(4), 282-293. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8683.2008.00693.x

Yin, R. K. (2018). Case study research and applications: Design and methods. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

How to Cite
Dooley, K., Dobbins, C., Edgar, L., Borges, B., Jones, S., Hernandez, J., & Birnbaum, A. (2020). A cross case synthesis of the social and economic development of three Guatemalan coffee cooperatives. Advancements in Agricultural Development, 1(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.37433/aad.v1i1.15

Most read articles by the same author(s)