A Modular Governance Architecture In-the-Making: How Transnational Standard-Setters Govern Sustainability Transitions

49 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2015 Last revised: 3 Dec 2017

See all articles by Stephan Manning

Stephan Manning

University of Sussex Business School

Juliane Reinecke

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Date Written: November 23, 2015

Abstract

Sustainability transitions have been studied as complex multi-level processes, but we still know relatively little about how they can be effectively governed, especially in transnational domains. Governance of transitions is often constrained by the equivocality of sustainability goals, the idiosyncrasy of niche experiments and the multiplicity of governance actors and interests. We study the role of transnational standard-setters in mitigating these challenges and governing sustainability transitions within a transnational sector. Our case is the global coffee sector where ‘sustainability standards’ are increasingly being adopted. We find that the emergence of a ‘modular governance architecture’ has helped diverse and heterogeneous actors turn sustainability from an ambiguous concept into a concrete set of semi-independent practices, while mitigating governance complexity. We show how standard-setters create governance modules through local niche experimentation, negotiate and legitimate their content with peers across local contexts, and re-integrate them into an emerging architecture. Our findings shed light on the role of modular processes in managing sustainability transitions and transnational governance, and the dynamics of meaning-making in this process.

Keywords: sustainability transitions, transnational standards, experimentalist governance, global coffee production, modular architecture, triple bottom line

JEL Classification: F13, F16, F18, F53, F55, F59, L15, L32, O13, O19, P45, P48, Q11, Q17, Q28, Q56, L2, L5

Suggested Citation

Manning, Stephan and Reinecke, Juliane, A Modular Governance Architecture In-the-Making: How Transnational Standard-Setters Govern Sustainability Transitions (November 23, 2015). Manning, S., Reinecke, J. 2016. “A Modular Governance Architecture In-The-Making: How Transnational Standard-Setters Govern Sustainability Transitions”. Research Policy, 45 (3), 618-633., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2694789

Stephan Manning (Contact Author)

University of Sussex Business School ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Juliane Reinecke

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
92
Abstract Views
954
rank
336,519
PlumX Metrics