The past two decades saw a rapid proliferation of sustainability standards created by multi-stakeholder partnerships of multinationals and international NGOs. This paper argues that the transformative capacity of these global partnerships to bring about sustainable change largely depends on how well the institutional features of global sustainability standards fit local organizational fields. This paper therefore aims to unravel the dynamics of global-local interactions. To this end, the concept of institutional fit is operationalized to assess whether and how the technical, cultural and political characteristics intrinsic to global sustainability standards are able to connect to local projects, strategies and practices. The introduction of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s standard into the Indonesian shrimp sector is used as a case to investigate these interactions. This paper shows that a process of fitting occurs when provisional institutions generated within a global partnership can be modified. We argue that global sustainability standards can benefit from steering more explicitly on dovetailing regulative and normative structures of global and local organizational fields. Local NGOs can play important mediating roles in this regard, which can potentially increase the transformative capacity of global standards in terms of generating and accelerating sustainable change.

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The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC)
RAE = Revista de Administracao de Empresas
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Schouten, G., Vellema, S., & van Wijk, J. (2016). Diffusion of global sustainability standards: The institutional fit of the ASC-shrimp standard in Indonesia. RAE = Revista de Administracao de Empresas, 2016. Retrieved from