Controversy over Voluntary Environmental Standards: A Socio-Economic Analysis of the Marine Stewardship Council

Organization & Environment, Forthcoming

49 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2019

See all articles by Frank Wijen

Frank Wijen

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Date Written: January 19, 2019

Abstract

Voluntary standards certifying environmental qualities of labeled products have proliferated across sectors and countries. Effectuating these standards requires the collaboration among and between creators (typically firms and non-governmental organizations) and adopters (firms across a particular supply chain). However, the need to collaborate does not rule out the presence of controversy. Drawing on the case of the Marine Stewardship Council, a leading seafood standard to conserve the world’s threatened marine fauna, we analyze how this controversy, from economic and sociologic vantage points, impacts a sustainability transition. In essence, interest divergence drives controversy over standard design, which spurs controversy over standard effectiveness and prompts the proliferation of competing standards. Controversy is magnified by the opacity or non-transparency of the fields which such standards seek to govern. We conclude that, while interest divergence and field opacity entail inherent controversy over voluntary environmental standards, the impact of this controversy on sustainability transitions is typically predominantly positive.

Keywords: certification, competition, conflict, controversy, environmental governance, label, Marine Stewardship Council, non-governmental organization, self-regulation, standard

JEL Classification: M14, Q22, Q56, Q57, Z13

Suggested Citation

Wijen, Frank and Chiroleu-Assouline, Mireille, Controversy over Voluntary Environmental Standards: A Socio-Economic Analysis of the Marine Stewardship Council (January 19, 2019). Organization & Environment, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3351848 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3351848

Frank Wijen (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Room T07-38
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
31 10 4081985 (Phone)

Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
8
Abstract Views
91
PlumX Metrics