Governing Sustainability Expectations in the Danish Dairy Value Chain

Anna Elisabeth Larsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The recent implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals highlights the International Community’s commitment to address global sustainability concerns. Corporations’ role in enforcing sustainable development within the agricultural supply chain which is economic, social and environmentally viable is continuously emphasized by internationally agreed principles for Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), the at encourages corporations to prevent and mitigate their adverse impacts to sustainable development linked to their operations, products and relationships. Through first hand interviews of key corporate and non-corporate actors concerned with the topic of sustainability, as well as being directly or indirectly involved with the Danish Dairy Value Chain, this thesis investigated how actors’ competing interests and agenda can explain a process of Contested Governance in the Danish Dairy Value Chain.In order to uncover this research focus, a case study analysis of the Danish dairy value chain (DDVC) will be conducted in order to analyze how contestations on sustainability concerns related to environmental and/or human rights issues between corporate and non-corporate actors shape governance in global value chains. Given the emergent structure of sustainability governance, the study is largely explorative. The key findings of this thesis is that governance of the Danish Dairy Value Chain can best be understood through the concept of multipolarity where governance is shaped by the explicit strategic actions of powerful actors both inside and outside. This multipolarity creates implications for sustainability governance as it enforces a process of contested governance. This thesis reveals how contested governance as a concept best explains the underlying structures as the driving force of governance of change. Within the complex field of sustainability governance powerful actors vying to define social and environmental responsibilities can be identified to engage in three kind of strategic levels in the DDVC when addressing sustainability concerns. That is ‘Do-no-Harm’ Compliance, ‘Do-Good’ Compliance’ and lastly, Partnerships for Sustainability.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016