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TBGI Working Paper 27

Interactions, Iteration and Early Institutionalization: Competing Lessons of GLOBALGAP’s Legitimation

TBGI Working Paper 27 cover image


UBC crest

Donal Casey

April 2019


Since its inception, GLOBALGAP has transformed from an informal grouping of retailers into a highly elaborate regulatory organisation. This chapter critically examines GLOBALGAP’s development. I argue that, through an iterative process of legitimation, actual and anticipated interactions with state, market and civil society actors led GLOBALGAP to develop structures, practices and processes that sought to enhance representation and participation of structurally weaker parties such as smallholders, whilst also addressing concerns relating to the exclusionary effect of its standards. I tease out how, as non-state regulatory organisations emerge and develop, they respond to actual and anticipated governance interactions in order to build, maintain and repair their legitimacy. Crucially however, early institutionalisation confers power upon particular actors, crystallises an organisation’s identify and lays the foundations for the achievement of its goals. Consequently, the enduring nature of early this institutionalisation can temper the potential for governance interactions to advance democracy, justice and fairness within non-state regulatory organisations.


Food Regulation, legitimacy, transnational regulation, private regulation, GLOBALGAP