- Multi-stakeholder governance and voluntary programme interactions: legitimation politics in the institutional design of Corporate Social Responsibility
- Socio-Economic Review
- Volume | Issue number
- 10 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
A variety of innovative institutional forms have emerged within the context of voluntary attempts to address pressing social and environmental issues. Among such institutions, the prevailing wisdom is that those characterized as encompassing multi-stakeholder governance are generally seen as having greater legitimacy than other forms of voluntary action, and such institutions have proliferated as a result. At the same time, business-driven programmes that exclude societal stakeholder groups are believed to be increasingly emerging as competitors to multi-stakeholder-governed programmes. This paper explores the relationship between these two trends and, in particular, highlights the potential for competition between multi-stakeholder and business-driven programmes to lead to a diverse range of outcomes which are shaped by legitimation politics. This perspective emphasizes the open-ended and contingent nature of voluntary programme interactions and the importance of strategy and choice of voluntary programmes and their participants in shaping the institutional design of programmes. Drawing upon a review of prior research and an in-depth case study of business-driven voluntary programmes within the European multi-product retail industry, the study shows that one key implication of legitimation politicking is a divergence between the surface appearance of the governance of programmes and the programmes’ actual institutional design.
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