Mixed-method Study on the RSPO Adoption in China and Japan: Sense-making and Transnational Issue Control Perspectives

Hattaya Rungruengsaowapak & Tzu-Hsin Yang

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


This study seeks to unpack the sustainable palm oil movement in the relatively less studied, albeit increasingly important, market dynamics of China and Japan. It aims to identify the drivers that enable firms to adopt the RSPO certifications as well as the main challenges unique to these markets that obstruct wider uptake. We explore how the RSPO as a foreign multi-stakeholder initiative is perceived in the local contexts, outline how different Chinese and Japanese actors engage in the RSPO’s agenda, and offer implications on literature as well as how to advance the sustainable palm oil movement in the two East Asian markets.
In particular, the authors review the literature concerning the RSPO as a multi-stakeholder initiative and how it emerged in the CSR discourse. In addition, we delve into how the concept of CSR and sustainability management are interpreted in the Chinese and Japanese contexts in order to apply in our analytical process. By synthesizing the theories of sense-making, isomorphism, legitimacy, and transnational issue control, we develop a framework for analyzing the organizational and professional actors involved in the transnational governance of sustain-able palm oil issues in China and Japan. In total, 19 semi-structural interviews were carried out in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and English. To apply thematic analysis, we treated the qualitative data using the structural coding method.
We discovered that motivated issue professionals in the markets leveraged on their expertise and networks to drive the issue of the RSPO in the two markets. Through the sense-making process, professionals brought in new concepts about the RSPO and communicated to organizations in China and Japan. Responsive organizations exert different types of isomorphic pressures inside the industries and associations, resulting in the rise of the RSPO membership in China and Japan.

UddannelserCand.merc.Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Antal sider136
VejledereKristjan Jespersen & Tine Walravens