Inclusiveness in Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: How should a Multi-Stakeholder Initiative strategically be set up and managed in order to create and enable equality among all participating actors?

Sebastian Sieck

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis is a single case study, which utilizes the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) toidentify favorable organizational structures and practices for multi-stakeholderinitiatives (MSIs) for creating and enabling equality among the involved actors.An inductive research approach is used to analyze BCI’s organizational structure andpractices, who has created sustainability standards for global cotton production,together with the various stakeholder groups of their network. The Actor-NetworkTheory (ANT), the concept of the ‘plot’, and the concept of framing and overflowing,form the theoretical framework of this research. It is applied in order to analyze andidentify how power structures within BCI’s network are identified, how stability iscreated and maintained, and what framing tools and practices are implemented tomanage a large network of diverse actors.In order to answer the research question the set-up phase of BCI is described andanalyzed. Additionally, the same approach is conducted towards BCI’s structure,activities, and organizational dynamics of today. The findings are followed by recentliterature criticizing MSIs for not having an as inclusive network as they claim –based on dominant power structures existing within MSIs and emphasizing theexclusion of especially ‘vulnerable’ actors within the initiative. The criticism willshow that BCI’s structure and various practices contain many characteristics thatcounteract the criticism and how these structures and practices within MSIs arefavorable to lead to equality within its networks. It shows that adaption of thestandards to regional circumstances and the cooperation with local partners are ofgreat value in order to establish a network that is able to respond and consequentlylearn from anticipating and responding to overflows. By doing so it allows the MSI toconsider and incorporate multiple perspectives in their standard setting process andtheir decision making, enabling for a higher degree of equality.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages87