National Contexts Matter: The Co-Evolution of Sustainability Standards in Global Value Chains
50 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2011 Last revised: 1 Mar 2013
Date Written: August 26, 2012
In this paper, we investigate the role of key industry and other stakeholders and their embeddedness in particular national contexts in driving the proliferation and co-evolution of sustainability standards, based on the case of the global coffee industry. We find that institutional conditions and market opportunity structures in consuming countries have been important sources of standards variation, for example in the cases of Fairtrade, UTZ Certified and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C). In turn, supplier structures in producing countries as well as their linkages with traders and buyers targeting particular consuming countries have been key mechanisms of standards transmission and selection. Unlike prior research, which has emphasized the role of global actors and structures in promoting – and hindering – sustainability initiatives, we argue that national economic and institutional conditions in consuming and producing countries have not only served as important drivers of standards multiplicity and co-evolution, but also as catalysts for the entire global sustainability movement.
Keywords: Sustainability standards, certification, coffee industry, standards adoption, co-evolution
JEL Classification: F13, F16, F18, F53, F55, F59, L15, L32, O13, O19, P45, P48, Q11, Q17, Q28, Q56, L2, L5
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