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In late May, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies published my paper on the implementation of transnational voluntary forestry standards in Russia in its discussion paper series (From Transnational Voluntary Standards to Local Practices: A Case Study of Forest Certification in Russia. MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/7). In the paper, I attempt to deconstruct the process of implementation and suggest that the current literature has paid little attention to two social processes that accompany – or even constitute – the implementation of transnational voluntary standards: collective learning and stakeholder interest negotiation. Basically, I argue that previous research examines carefully various factors that explain why certain companies in certain countries commit to voluntary environmental standards, but has so far mainly assumed that once standards are adopted, the improvements in practices will occur (if there is a gap between standards and practice, which is most often the case, as some research shows). Instead, I suggest that implementation should not be taken for granted and propose a framework for understanding how companies and activists translate transnational voluntary standards into on-the-ground practices, particularly in a difficult context of non-advanced industrial countries. Empirically, I apply this framework to the analysis of the implementation of the Forest Stewardship Council’s forestry standards in Russian forest enterprises. Read the rest of this entry »

In his recent paper, Tim Bartley (unpublished working paper, see references) argues that implementation of transnational standards, particularly in developing countries, often remains a black box. He starts by showing that some scholars imply that local conditions do not matter, while some others suggest that the effects can be read off programs’ principles and design. Using a case study of certification of forests and labor conditions in Indonesia, Bartley convincingly shows that neither is the case. Motivated by his contribution, I would like to reflect on why it is important to open up the black box of implementation. I focus on four aspects here: mechanisms, politics, implementation gap, and local actors. In part, I use forest certification as an example to illustrate how the study of the implementation of certification standards can enrich our knowledge of transnational governance. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
March 2021

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