The Adoption of the RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard: The Case of Colombia

Sigrid Askerud & Anna Borges

Student thesis: Master thesis


This study investigates how the new RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard affects the institutional infrastructure of the Colombian sustainable palm oil sector, and if it can increase the influence of smallholders in the RSPO certification. Through the theoretical framework of institutional infrastructure the dominant institutional infrastructure elements and institutional logics in the field were identified. Based on 17 interviews with actors within the sustainable palm oil industry the main challenges were discovered. A thorough analysis and discussion revealed how the RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard could influence the institutional infrastructure of the field and inclusion of smallholders in the RSPO. It was discovered that the new standard will influence some institutional elements and can increase the inclusion of smallholders to some extent, but fails to create change within the institutional infrastructure. It will therefore neglect the structural influence, which prevent smallholders from obtaining RSPO certification. This paper adds to the literature on smallholder inclusion in the RSPO and contributes to the literature gap on sustainable palm oil production in regions outside of South East Asia.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages115
SupervisorsKristjan Jespersen