Turning rules into practices: An inside-out approach to understanding the implementation of sustainability standards

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While sustainability standards promise better labor and environmental conditions, changes in actual practice occur inconsistently. Existing literature has explained this mainly through focusing on structures and mechanisms that originate from outside producers' organizations. This paper instead examines the intraorganizational process by which rules turn into practices on the ground. It offers an inside-out approach that draws on data from an eight-month participant observation study of certified agricultural commodity producers in Brazil. The key finding of this paper is that rules get turned into practices through discovering and cultivating a practice ecosystem in which certified producers in the Global South learn to implement new practices through a self-guided, two-step discovery process. First, they must discover how to build and integrate the elements of a practice; second, they must discover how to support the internalization of this practice. Further, adjacent practices—those alongside the ones that need to be integrated—are pivotal in determing whether producers succeed in building new practices. This paper contributes to the literature on sustainable commodity governance and to organizational theories of practice adaptation. It shows that sustainable commodity governance depends not only on external structures and mechanisms, but also, equally importantly, on the internal organizational mechanisms for new practices to take hold.

Idioma originalAnglès
Número d’article106947
RevistaEcological Economics
Volum184
DOIs
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - de juny 2021
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