Dr Amanda Berlan

Job: Reader in Business & Sustainability

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester Castle Business School

Address: De Montfort University

T: +44 (0)116 201 3811

E: amanda.berlan@dmu.ac.uk

W: lcbs.ac.uk


Personal profile

Dr Amanda Berlan is Reader in Business & Sustainability at Leicester Castle Business School, De Montfort University. Amanda previously held research and teaching posts at Coventry University (2013-2016), the University of Manchester (2009-2012) and the University of Oxford (2006-2009). A Social Anthropologist by training, her broad interest is in the field of sustainable agriculture, with a particular focus on cocoa and the chocolate industry.

She has taught, researched, consulted, published and reviewed in the areas of:

  • Cocoa production (Productivity, disease/pest management, training & agricultural extension services, organic production)
  • Child rights (child labour, education, hunger & malnutrition, gender)
  • Corporate social responsibility & business ethics (certification, supply chain management, governance and partnerships, waste and sustainability)
  • Research methods (qualitative research methods, surveys, child-focused participatory research methods, impact evaluation)

Amanda is keen to promote a better understanding of sustainability issues based on high quality empirical research. She has carried out extensive fieldwork with cocoa-producing communities in West Africa, India and the Caribbean and has 17 years’ experience in the sector. She has worked and consulted with a wide range of stakeholders including private companies, non-profit/educational organisations and the public sector and her work has been featured in specialist and mainstream media. She serves as a Senior Adviser for the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute and has been a Board member of Goodweave UK since 2013. Amanda holds a DPhil, MPhil and BA from the University of Oxford, UK.

Research interests/expertise

Business ethics


Cocoa production and chocolate

Child Labour

Fairtrade and food certification

Supply Chains

Global Food Systems

Areas of teaching


Business ethics/Corporate Social Responsibility

Child Rights

Qualitative research methods

International Development


  • DPhil in Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, 2001-2006
  • M.A. (Distinction) Social & Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, 1999-2001
  • B.A. (Hons) Modern Languages, University of Oxford, 1994-1998

Membership of professional associations and societies

2016-present Senior Advisor. Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute, non-profit organization 

2013-present Board member. GoodWeave UK, non-profit organization.

Conference attendance

2016 “Sustainability in the cocoa industry: an examination of the role of context in productivity initiatives.” Sustainable Supply Chains and International Trade session, 22nd Annual Conference of the International Sustainable Development Research Society, Lisbon, Portugal, 13-15 July.


2016 “The future of chocolate: an anthropological examination of changing patterns of production and consumption and corporate responses.” Food and Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century: Anthropological and Multidisciplinary perspectives, Liverpool University, Liverpool, UK, 28 June-2 July.


2014 “Pathways to sustainability in cocoa production: how can business secure the long-term future of chocolate?” Globalisation and Sustainability track, International Conference of the Association of Global Management Studies, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 20 May.


2012 “The future of cocoa farming: the challenges and opportunities of social rejuvenation.”

Cocoa Farming and Sustainability track, First Conference on the Economics and Politics of Chocolate, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, 17 September.


2011 “Challenges and prospects for Dominican cocoa,” presented with Dr A. Bergés. The Dominican Republic: Issues and Prospects, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, London, UK, 6 May.


2011 “Performance in agricultural social enterprises: confronting the productivity gap, breaking the poverty cycle and securing food sustainability.” Performance and Legitimacy in Social Enterprises, HEC Management School, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium, 4 March.


2011 “Growing well but growing poor? An analysis of spending and productivity among cocoa farmers in the Dominican Republic.” SOAS Food Forum, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, UK, 4 February.


2010 “Promoting sustainability in agriculture: a case study from the Caribbean.” Business and Development: Taking Debates Forward Seminar, Development Studies Association's Business and Development Study Group, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, 28 June.


2010 “The role of social entrepreneurship and cooperatives in Fairtrade.” Skoll Centre 2010 Research Colloquium on Social Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 22-25 June.


2009 “The impact of Fairtrade on producer communities.” Fairtrade under academic scrutiny: what can critical research be good for?, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK, 1 October.


2009 “Pathways to international development: examining the changing roles of co-operatives in ethical trade and sustainable agriculture.” Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation Conference, Ottawa, Canada, 27-29 May.


2009 “Bringing academia into policy: an examination of the challenges of Fairtrade.” Uniting research, policy and practice in Fairtrade: a knowledge exchange workshop, Cardiff, Wales, 20-21 April.


2008 “The challenges of chocolate: an examination of the ethics of consuming and producing chocolate.” European Association of Social Anthropology, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 27 August.

Key research outputs


2016 “Whose Business is it Anyway: Children and Corporate Social Responsibility in the International Business Agenda” policy review in Children & Society, 30(2), pp. 159–168

2013 “Social sustainability in agriculture: an anthropological perspective on child labour” in the Journal of Development Studies (ABS 3*), 49(8), pp.1088-1100

2009 “Child labour in cocoa: whose voices prevail?” (2009) in the special issue of The International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy on ‘Working Children in the 21st century’, vol. 29, issue 3/4, p.141-151

2008 “Making or marketing a difference? An anthropological examination of the marketing of Fair Trade cocoa from Ghana” (2008) in Research in Economic Anthropology, 28, pp.171-194




2014 “Of red herrings and immutabilities: rethinking Fairtrade’s ethic of relationality among cocoa producers” (with Dolan, C.) in Food Transgressions, Goodman, M. and Sage, C. (eds). Farnham: Ashgate

2012 “Good chocolate? An examination of ethical consumption in cocoa” in Ethical consumption: social value and economic practice, Carrier, J. and Luetchford, P. (eds). New York: Berghahn

“Case study of Chocolate” in The Politics of Fairtrade, Warrier, M. (ed.). London: Routledge

2004 “Child labour, education and child rights among cocoa producers in Ghana” in The Political Economy of New Slavery, van den Anker, C. (ed.). New York: Palgrave



2013 “Cocoa production in the Dominican Republic: sustainability, challenges and opportunities” (with Bergés, A.) Report of findings to Green and Black’s

2012 “Social and Economic Sustainability in the Cocoa Value Chain in India” (with Singh, S. and Barrientos, S.) Report of findings to the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership

Current research students

Amanda is currently involved on three PhD supervision teams:

Lisette Phelan: Soil and water management practices in cocoa production in Ghana and Ecuador (Director of Studies)

Charlie Rumsby: Ethnicity and identity among stateless Vietnamese children in Cambodia (2nd supervisor)

Tim Messeder: Social and Human Capital in Aquaculture in Uganda (Adviser)

Amanda welcomes PhD enquiries from students interested in any of the topics listed in her areas of expertise. 

Externally funded research grants information

2017-2018 Co-investigator on £200,000 grant from the British Academy ‘Tackling Slavery, Human Trafficking and Child Labour in Modern Business’ (PI, Alex Balch, University of Liverpool)

2010-2012 Lead Investigator on £185,000 grant to research sustainability in the cocoa sector in India, Cadbury Cocoa Partnership/Kraft Foods

2009-2010 Principal Investigator on £105,000 grant to research the sustainability of the cocoa sector in the Dominican Republic, Green and Black’s/Cadbury Cocoa Partnership. The project report “Cocoa production in the Dominican Republic: sustainability, challenges and opportunities” (with Bergés, A.) (2013) was the basis for a £3.2 million investment to support the Dominican cocoa industry. 

Internally funded research project information

2016 Principal Investigator on £10,000 grant to research waste and sustainability in the cocoa-chocolate supply chain, Coventry University 

Search Who's Who

News target area image

DMU is a dynamic university, read about what we have been up to in our latest news section.

Events target area image

At DMU there is always something to do or see, check out our events for yourself.

Mission and vision target area image
Mission and vision

Read about our mission and vision and how these create a supportive and exciting learning environment.