The Legitimacy of Bottom-up Governance: The Role of Multi-Stakeholder GVC Partnerships in Ethiopia

Sarah Castaldi, Rineke Slager, Tine Walravens

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingsForskningpeer review


Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) have emerged as forms of collaborative, horizontal governance aimed at advancing the sustainable development of global value chains (GVC). Despite their recent popularity and good intentions, legitimacy deficits emerged, preventing more significant improvements in terms of sustainability. Consequently, academics and policy makers have called for more civil society organization (CSO) involvement in GVC governance. This article applies a grounded theory approach to a single, deviant case study: an EU-funded, CSO-led GVC MSI, consisting of public, private, and civil society organizations both in Europe and Ethiopia, which aims to promote a sustainable cotton and garment value chain of Ethiopian cotton to European consumers. To analyze the case, we conducted 69 in-depth semi-structured interviews. Our findings show the interplay between politically and socially driven legitimacy concerns in the context of CSO-led MSIs. Specifically, our results contrast the bottom-up nature of CSO-led MSIs against Ethiopia's hierarchical, top-down structures deeply ingrained in local institutions. This global-local mismatch creates social legitimacy challenges for the project, which in return, contributes to both input and output legitimacy deficits. This is mainly visible from the lack of local ownership by 'powerful' project partners, whose presence in the project is paramount for social legitimacy, but whose specific interests also impede output legitimacy at the highest level. Overall, while CSO-led MSIs are confronted with similar legitimacy challenges than either traditional (global) or local MSIs, it is their strong footing in the local market that allows them to create value for stakeholders at the bottom (i.e., workers).

TitelProceedings of the Eighty-second Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
RedaktørerSonja Taneja
Antal sider1
UdgivelsesstedBriarcliff Manor, NY
ForlagAcademy of Management
StatusUdgivet - 2022
BegivenhedThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together - Seattle, USA
Varighed: 5 aug. 20229 aug. 2022
Konferencens nummer: 82


KonferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022
NavnAcademy of Management Proceedings