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Governing the governors: the global metagovernance of fair trade and sustainable forestry production

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 02:42 authored by Hannah Murphy-GregoryHannah Murphy-Gregory, Frederick GaleFrederick Gale
To promote environmentally sustainable corporate behavior, a complex system of global private governance operates where civil society groups play dominant roles. We argue that the concept of “metagovernance” developed in the public administration literature helps scholars and practitioners make sense of the constellation of actors, structures, and processes that have emerged in the field of global private governance. This article advances the metagovernance research agenda by providing a comparative application of the concept to two global private governance schemes: the fair trade and sustainable forest product certification systems. We examine the key organizations, arrangements, and relationships that constitute these systems to demonstrate that metagovernance in this sphere is produced heterarchically: multiple organizations within global private governance schemes are mutually responsible for their own coordination. We argue that employing metagovernance as an analytical tool enables the identification and appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of complex systems for “the governance of governance” from a holistic perspective.


Publication title

Politics & Policy








School of Social Sciences


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2019 Policy Studies Organization

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Public services policy advice and analysis; International organisations; International political economy (excl. international trade)