MSIs and Institutional Work: A Case Study of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the Theory of Change: How Do Different Forms of Institutional Work Evolve When Introducing Theory of Change Practices in a Multi-Stakeholder Initiative?

Eileen Ryll & Kamilla Hvid Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis provides a case analysis of the RSPO┬┤s development of a Theory of Change (ToC). The study analyses how different forms of institutional work (IW) evolve, when developing a ToC. This focus is based on the relevance of ToCs as commonly employed tools in NGOs and certification standards, to show impact. Based on integral components of developing a ToC, such as uncovering underlying assumptions and designing pathways towards a shared vision, these tools seem to promise more than impact evaluation. This study, therefore, seeks to find how introducing ToC practices can facilitate institutional work within the RSPO. Based on a philosophical standpoint of critical realism, a quantitative case study method has been applied. The vast majority of the primary data was collected via interviews with individuals involved in the development process. These were theoretically coded and analyzed by means of a discourse analysis. Primarily four forms of institutional work evolved, when introducing Theory of Change practices within the RSPO. These were Theorizing, Changing Normative Associations, Constructing Identity and Embedding and Routinizing. From here it was established that efforts revolving around Theorizing triggered both Changing Normative Assumptions and Constructing Identities. The main findings include the possibility to regard the ToC as an on-going iterative process and the insight that individual IW practices within the ToC process could trigger more substantial types of IW.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Diversity and Change Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages101
SupervisorsKristjan Jespersen