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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Maja Tampe

Maja TampeMaja Tampe
MIT Sloan School of Management

Nudging Those Who Don’t Need It: Transnational Private Governance In The Cocoa Sector Of Ghana, Ecuador And Brazil.

Does transnational private governance inspire sustainable development in developing countries? Such is the proposition made by social and environmental certifications, for example Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ. Private governance is expected to be more effective when paired with strong governmental regulation. Yet we have limited insight on how the two interact on the ground. Drawing on six-month long fieldwork in the cocoa sector in Brazil, where stringent laws should support private governance, I find that strong national laws do not significantly enhance private governance. This anomaly is due to sector-specific law enforcement patterns and a political-institutional environment that supports smaller agricultural units that are, however, less likely to adopt private governance than medium- and large-sized plantations. As a result, changes from certification on the ground are uneven and hinge on complementary favorable conditions of producer and farm characteristics. This study illustrates that a relevant conception of regulation has to recognize important steering effects of larger governmental policies. 


Maja TAMPE is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Work and Employment Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management, advised by Professors Thomas Kochan and Richard Locke. As a scholar of private governance and sustainable development, her research concerns the regulation of social and environmental standards in agricultural value chains. Her research focuses on standard effectiveness and underlying mechanisms, leveraging a comparative case study of certified cocoa farmer groups in Ecuador, a longitudinal evaluation of certification in the Ghanaian cocoa sector, and a participant-observation and interview-based study of certified cocoa plantations in Brazil. Several grants fund her work, including from the Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Itaú Fund for Sustainability in Latin America and the MIT Carroll L. Wilson Award. She earned a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Master in Political Science from the University of Münster, Germany.