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Fragmented or Cohesive Transnational Private Regulation of Sustainability Standards? A Comparative Study

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Literature on private regulation recognizes the proliferation of competing regulatory organizations and approaches in various industries. Studies analyzing why fragmentation arises so far focus on single-case studies, the exploration of single variables, or variation in types of fragmentation. This article analyzes why in certain industries and for certain issues regulatory organizations proliferate, while in others a single regulatory organization emerges which covers the entire industry. Through a comparative case study of private regulation of sustainability standards in the forestry, clothing, IT-electronics, and chemicals industries, we show how a combination of low industrial concentration, civil society involvement in governance, and stringent standards of a first-moving regulator offer the strongest explanation for a fragmented private regulatory field, while high industrial concentration, business-driven governance, and lenient standards of a first-moving regulator lead to cohesive regulation.

    Research areas

  • COLLECTIVE ACTION, EMERGENCE, GLOBAL GOVERNANCE, LABOR STANDARDS, MARKET, ORGANIZATIONS, VOLUNTARY ENVIRONMENTAL-PROGRAMS, corporate social responsibility, private regulation, regime complexity, regulatory competition, sustainability
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-275
Number of pages17
JournalRegulation & Governance
Issue number3
Early online date27 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015