Governance, Communication, and Public Policy




Institutional Characteristics for Success: Global Standards and Certification Schemes for Sustainability


Prof. Dr. Bernhard Zangl

Beteiligte Wissenschaftler

Anna Stetter, M.A.




A central feature of Global Governance is the emergence of regulative arrangements operating outside the exclusive reach of nation states and multilateral state led institutions. These arrangements often build on cooperation between actors from the public and private sphere implying corporate business as well as civil society. In contrast to conventional “command and control” regulation multi-stakeholder arrangements aim at effecting voluntary standards. Though voluntary, processes overlooking and assuring compliance with the set standards are an integral part of the regulatory cycle of the global multi-stakeholder schemes in focus. The schemes are organized on a global scale and yet they intend to have impacts on diverse local contexts.
The research project at hand deals with such arrangements in form of global standards and certification schemes (GSCSs) such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the like. The central research question underlying the project is: what institutional characteristics condition the success of global standards and certification schemes? By studying the institutional design of existing global standards and certification schemes we seek to explain why some of them operate with great success while others are less successful in implementing their goals. In the project institutional characteristics are understood to include aspects of financing, actor participation, decision-making processes, governance structure, business incentives and several others. The focus lies on schemes engaging in social and environmental sustainability issues in natural resources like forestry, fish, minerals, organic farming, etc. often traded between developing and industrial countries.


Das Projekt wurde durch die Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) finanziert.


Oktober 2009 - Oktober 2012