Explaining differences in the success of roundtables Schouten, Greetje Nikoloyuk, Jordan Glasbergen, Pieter Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Forschungsstelle für Umweltpolitik
Explaining differences in the success of roundtables
behavioural versus institutional factors
The development of private governance initiatives in global commodity chains : an integrated approach of behavioural aspects and institutional factors
Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Forschungsstelle für Umweltpolitik
In recent decades private actors have become increasingly important in the way sustainability
challenges are dealt with and agricultural sectors are regulated. The so-called roundtables are
examples of this private governance trend. A roundtable is a private arrangement with the aim to
improve the sustainability of a specific global commodity chain. It is partnership where only private
actors - businesses and non-governmental organizations - have decision-making power.
In the literature two major perspectives towards the study of partnerships can be observed. Actor
approaches explain the success (or failure) of partnerships in terms of managerial factors, while
institutional approaches point to the societal context for explaining their success or failure. However,
little is known about the relative importance of these (clusters) of factors that facilitate or hinder the
development of partnerships or their ability to change global commodity chains.
This paper combines an institutional with a behavioural approach by looking at behavioural (building
trust; creating collaborative advantages; constituting a rule system; and changing a market) and
institutional (the structure of the commodity chain; domestic drivers; the role of lead firms; product
visibility to consumers; and NGO pressure) factors. The relative importance of these (clusters of)
factors and there connections are established through a comparison of the development of two
roundtables: the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the Round Table on Responsible Soy. The
outcome of the paper is a new model that helps to explain the development of private governance
initiatives and their ability to change commodity chains.
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