Actor and Institutional Dynamics in the Development of Multi-Stakeholder initiatives

Anica Zeyen, Markus Beckmann, Stella Wolters

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As forms of private self-regulation, multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) have emerged as an important empirical phenomenon in global governance processes. At the same time, MSIs are also theoretically intriguing because of their inherent double nature. On the one hand, MSIs spell out CSR standards that define norms for corporate behavior. On the other hand, MSIs are also the result of corporate and stakeholder behavior. We combine the perspectives of institutional theory and club theory to conceptualize this double nature of MSIs. Based on a stage model that looks at the interplay of actor and institutional dynamics, we generate insights into why actors join a voluntary MSI, how the various motivations and intentions of the actors influence the standard development, and how these as well as the MSI design are subsequently influenced by both external (institutional) and internal (club) dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-360
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Early online date28 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • multi-stakeholder initiative
  • institutional theory
  • club theory
  • political role of the firm
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

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