I like to keep things simple and informal – as authentic as possible, but details can matter upon circumstance. Below a complete overview of who I am as a researcher.
— PhD Political Economy, King’s College London. Expected submission: c.09.2018.
— MA Environment Politics & Globalisation (1st Class), King’s College London. 2012.
— BA. International Relations (cum laude), Tallinn University of Technology. 2010.
Non-state regulators, of which transnational certifications schemes can be an example, are ubiquitous in today’s society. You may have seen, for instance, that Starbucks labels its products ‘Fair Trade’ whilst across the street, at Costa, products are labelled by the ‘Rainforest Alliance’. How did either get chosen over similar alternatives?
Or, phrased as a research question: how to account for the success of one non-state regulator/certification given competition against other similar schemes?
I work specifically with voluntary carbon offset certifications rather than coffee certifications for methodological reasons (more cases / better comparability), and because we do not know much yet about these particular certifications, but the puzzle underneath is the same. Carbon offset certifications need to figure out ways to be chosen over others. Amidst heavy uncertainty too, because these type of initiatives are typically borne as part of profound social, economic, political, and even scientific, cleavages.
The PhD, as a whole, is a comparison of most similar certifications with different outcome (low/high success) including, naturally, concept analysis, a comprehensive review of the literature, deductive variables and hypotheses definition from transaction costs theory, and operationalisation for the field chosen for testing (carbon markets). The analysis that follows builds on extensive fieldwork combining documentary analysis and in-depth interviews with certifications’ staff and experts, process tracing of all selected cases (8), and qualitative comparison.
The literature tends to equate certifications to private regulation but for my PhD what matters is the nature of the regulatory initiative. So, with some caveats about differentials in coercive capacities, the findings are relevant for state agencies with certification schemes. The study is, thus, important in its own right, but it should also form a good starting point for subsequent cross-field testing (check the ‘post-doc’ tab for more on this).
Results & Implications (thus far)