1st April 2014

Newsletter 2014

Dear colleagues,

Pieter Glasbergen Welcome to our new newsletter. Interesting to observe is that the focus of our research program gradually changes. We started our research program over 10 years ago with a primary interest in partnerships as new governance arrangements for sustainable development. Our early research was based on the need to better understand and define the roles and functions of various types of partnerships, their architecture, the conditions that determine their performance, and the implications in terms of governance for sustainable development.

In the meantime we have seen that ‘the partnership paradigm’, which we recognized rather early, has been institutionalized as a (global) governance philosophy and strategy. Although our initial questions are still with us, the focus of the program is now a little bit different. First, we have become more interested in a systemic view on partnerships, which implies that we study partnerships as one form of governance among various other forms of governance in an issue area. We call this the governance system approach. Second, we now more strongly emphasize the relevance of methodological pluralism than before. Qualitative case-study research is still one of our strengths, but large surveys, action research, and social constructivist approaches have found their way in our program. Third, many of our current research projects focus on North-South relationships and development issues, with a primary interest in the contribution of standard-setting and certifying schemes to a more sustainable agriculture. An underlying question is in what way and to what extent sustainable development can be realized through the market mechanism.

 The year 2013 was again a fruitful year. In 2013 we welcomed the 5th PhD thesis in our program. Greetje Schouten defended her thesis on the legitimization of certifying partnerships, particularly the Round Tables on Sustainable Palm Oil and Responsible Soy. Her dissertation got a lot of attention, also from the daily newsletters. Currently, 8 PhD students are working in our program. Our 5 Indonesian PhDs started in 2012 and we had some stimulating workshops with supervisors and related programs of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science and Arts. Luli Pesqueira is finalizing her dissertation, which takes an action research approach in collaboration with Oxfam Novib. Ceren Pekdemir continued her work on fragmentation and cohesion in global governance, with a first focus on the system of fair labor private arrangements. Her new paper will be on meta-governance; a topic that we addressed in several other papers already. Laura Kurth joined us as a new PhD student. She started working on the politics of halal certifications. Astrid Offermans continued her post-doc work on joint knowledge production in partnerships.

As always some master students participated in our research program with their thesis research. Currently, one student is working on water partnerships in South Africa as a stepping stone to a PhD project. Another student develops a climate change adaptation module for standard-setting and certifying partnerships addressing sustainable agriculture.

Many of our research results were presented at international conferences, workshops, and published in international journals. Further information you will find below and on our website (www.munpop.nl). Your reactions are most welcome.

Prof. Pieter Glasbergen

Chair MUNPOP