1st April 2014

News from ongoing projects

Farmers' preferences for coffee certification schemes – Ibnu Muhammad

Ibnu Muhammad Certification is believed to contribute positively to smallholder’s livelihoods. However, this causal relationship, if it is existent at all, is highly debated. One factor contributing to this debate is that certification programs rarely consult the farmers in the development of a certification scheme, leading to neglecting farmers’ specific conditions, problems and their preferences in the program characteristics. Based on literature research, Ibnu assumes that certification programs which are appropriate to farmers’ specific circumstances are preferred by farmers, and therefore more likely to make positive changes in farmers’ livelihoods. Ibnu developed an verified a list of attributes and used conjoint analysis to measure the various attributes of farmer’s preferences for assessing which certification scheme is considered ideal and how this ideal relates to existing schemes.

 Impact of certification on palm oil smallholders’ livelihood – Nia Kurniawati Hidayat

Nia Kurniawati The expansion of oil palm plantations is highly debated in terms of economic, social and environmental effects. Certification is expected to be a solution to make the production more sustainable. However, the impacts of certification are still debatable - particularly regarding the impacts on smallholders. To respond to the fragmented existence of many different types of impact studies and used research methods, Nia Kurniawati developed a conceptual model wherein she combined insights from impact studies with insights from the livelihood literature. The livelihood concept is considered to be a comprehensive and relevant approach to analyze the impact of certification on smallholders, and to choose and organize variables in a more meaningful and structured way. During her fieldwork, Nia validated her model through interviews with different actors in the field (companies, middlemen, governments, NES etc.).

Intermediary roles of Southern NGOs in certification - Luciana Sani Kosasih

Sani Kosasih NGOs gain a stronger and more important position in global governance. The question however is whether NGOs should be involved in certification at all, and if so, what role suits them best. Most current studies recognize the possible roles of NGOs in transnational governance, but there is hardly any systematic categorization of these roles. Also, most studies only focus on the role of Northern NGOs. During her first fieldwork study, Sani interviewed employees from multiple NGOs in Indonesia to gain more knowledge on the intermediary roles of Southern NGOs.

Certification and economic performance for southern actors - Esther Sri Astuti

Esther sri Astuti Certification of agricultural products may influence the economic performance of southern actors in the value chain. However, financial benefits resulting from certification schemes are not always distributed equally along the product chain. Based on a global value chain analysis, Esther collected many questionnaires to assess the economic performance of certified and non-certified Southern actors in the coffee value chain. After analyzing the results, an overview can be provided on the distribution of economic benefits of certification and factors that function as blocker or enabler for upgrading actors’ economic performance.

Private Certification and the Response of Southern Governments - Atika Wijaya

Atika Wijaya Private certification is a new emerging phenomenon challenging governments to determine their response and involvement. Most research solely focuses on Northern governments. This research focuses on possible responses of Southern governments to private certification of agricultural products. Based on literature research, Atika assumes that governments play a strategic role in private certification, which may differ for different stages of certification (initiation, implementation and monitoring) and different agricultural products. In her first fieldwork, Atika focused on three roles: leaving certification to the market (adopting no public responsibility with no involvement); accepting private certification and sustaining it (balancing public and private responsibilities with high governmental involvement) and blocking private certification and/or forming own standards (high public responsibility with no involvement in the private certification).

Joint knowledge production in certifying partnerships – Astrid Offermans

Astrid Offermans Partnerships are multi-stakeholder governance arrangements that can be characterized by their potential to produce knowledge. Given their structure and the complex issues they are dealing with the produced knowledge and the knowledge processes in partnerships are expected to have some characteristics:  different knowledge types can be recognized, knowledge processes are not linear but inherently integrative; and knowledge production is organized. In other words: we expect effective partnerships to produce knowledge in line with “joint knowledge production”. Because of a lack of empirical support to validate these expectations Astrid developed an analytical framework to analyze the extent to which knowledge processes in partnerships can be understood as joint knowledge production. This framework will be applied to the exemplary case of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

 Global Sustainable Change: Partnerships Between Fragmentation and Cohesion – Ceren Pekdemir

Ceren Pekdemir Within the current global public domain, private and public-private arrangements are increasingly engaged with regulatory activities spanning different sectors and domains. The proliferation of different regulatory schemes has produced a decentralised and fragmented governance system. Scholars have, to a certain extent, focused on the rise of (competing) regulatory institutions, on the standards that have been set, and to a lesser extent examined the effectiveness of these regulatory standards. One feature that has hardly been addressed is the network of different regulatory arrangements. There are different organisational fields developing in which actors interact and collaborate, yet little is known about the configuration of these practices. The research topic of Ceren Pekdemir is intended to fill in this gap in scholarly literature. In her research on “Global Sustainable Change: Partnerships between Fragmentation and Cohesion” she principally addresses the question in how far issue-specific governance systems are fragmented or cohesive in their institutional structures, from organisational, ideational, and relational perspectives, and to what extent this influences the effectiveness of the regulatory frameworks. Ceren presented her work on July 15th at the 20th Multi-Organizational Partnerships, Alliances and Networks (MOPAN) conference at Newcastle University Business School, and in February 2014 at the international workshop “Fostering Labor Rights in the Global Economy: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives” .

Oxfam Novib in global governance - Luli Pesqueira

In the last year, Luli continued researching the participation of NGOs in the creation of sustainability standards for the agri-food sector.  Using again empirical evidence from Oxfam’s experiences in this field, her latest research studies the processes of interaction between different NGO groups around the creation of a certification scheme for the tropical farmed shrimp sector. Here, Luli shows that the strategic interaction between multiple NGOs in the context of multi-stakeholder governance is not unproblematic. In fact, the dynamic interplay between different NGO groups requires that goals become constantly (re)aligned and positions (re)negotiated. All of this taking within a field where other interactions with actors – businesses, partners, allies, confederation members, donors, and governance bodies – also need to be managed. Luli identifies the frames deployed by different NGO groups in favor and against the creation of a certification scheme for farmed tropical shrimp. She also analyzes the variety of roles and functions that NGOs are required to play in their interaction with other NGOs, and concludes discussing the factors that enable or constrain NGO’s ability to take on the variety of roles that are ascribed to it. In April 2014, Luli will join EGADE Business School in Mexico City as lecturer and director of Executive Education. EGADE Business School is part of the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM), one of the largest and best-ranked universities in Mexico.