Retailers, knowledges and changing commodity networks: The case of the cut flower trade

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This paper presents a theory-inflected consideration of how UK retailers play an active role in shaping the character of the international cut flower trade. More particularly, the centrality of knowledge to this role is examined. It is suggested that the metaphor of the network most effectively captures the vast webs of interdependent relationships that constitute the trade in cut flowers, while the metaphor of the circuit is used to understand the flow of knowledge through this network. The development and application of business knowledge by UK retailers, in the context of exchange relationships with flower producers in Kenya, is discussed. The author's preliminary field interviews with these agents are drawn upon, in order to demonstrate how the power of retailers to influence change in the cut flower trade hinges on their capacity to adapt complex networks in their favour and to circulate particular kinds of knowledge around these networks.