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Title: The banana export activity in Central America 1947-1976
Author: Ellis, Frank
ISNI:       0000 0001 1964 2087
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1978
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The thesis examines the production dynamics of the corporate plantation system in the banana export activity of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama between 1947 and 1976. It particularly aims to elucidate the nature and direction of technical change on banana plantations owned or controlled by vertically-integrated transnational corporations; and to examine the implications of technical change for (i) the distribution of gains in export production of bananas, and (ii) the net barter terms of trade of banana exporting countries. Historical material traces the development of the banana sector up to 1947, showing how a process of horizontal and vertical integration resulted in control being exercised by two foreign enterprises and production being concentrated in large plantations. The organisational structure of production is shown to have remained stable in post-war years, and consists of corporate divisions which integrate production, purchase, transport and exportation of bananas as well as the related social infrastructure. Technical change is studied by comparative analysis of time-series data on labour productivity and yields supplemented by information on capital and the nature of innovations. This demonstrates substantial increases in the productive efficiency of both labour and capital, especially associated with the conversion to higher-yielding banana varieties. Technical progress accentuates the enclave nature of corporate banana production via a declining wage share of gross export value and an increased use of imported inputs. The secular decline in the terms of trade is attributed to a widening gap between labour productivity and real wages. The study includes detailed material on the labour process in banana plantations, the evolution of associated producer programmes, and the international banana market. Government policies aimed at capturing an enhanced share of the value generated in production and marketing are analysed in the context of structural conditions, technical change, and competition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available