University of Vermont


Tuesday October 28, 2014
For more information, please call the President's Office at (802) 656-3186 or visit
Friday October 31, 2014
Gund Teas are a weekly event at the Gund Institute. Each week there is a presenter(s) that will present on their research for 30 minutes, with the remainder of the time open for discussion amongst the group. Open to the public.
Tuesday November 4, 2014
Seminar And PhD Dissertation Defense

Early Adoption Dynamics of Private Governance Initiatives:
A Case Study of the Marine Cultured-Pearl Industry

By Julie Nash

Seminar: 5:00 p.m., Aiken 311
Defense: 6:00 p.m., Aiken 311


Saleem Ali, Professor, RSENR, Co-Advisor
Clare Ginger, Professor, RSENR, Co-Advisor
Christopher Koliba, Professor, CDAE, Chair
Jon Erickson, Professor, RSENR


In the last decade, private sustainability governance initiatives have flourished resulting in a diversity of formats including third-party certification, consumer product transparency systems, and industry roundtables. In many industries, these initiatives compete to define the transformation and evolution of sustainability governance. This dissertation draws on a case study of the marine cultured pearl industry to highlight the early adoption dynamics of these initiatives. This industry provides an illuminating case study for adoption of private governance initiatives based on the potential strength of the positive environmental impact and farm presence in ecologically vulnerable coral reefs areas. Yet despite these strengths, no formal initiatives have developed.
This research explores the early adoption of private governance initiatives through a mixed-methodological approach. The first study, a quantitative survey of US jewelry consumers, examines the impacts of environmental messages on perceptions of luxury value. The second study assesses the effect of network legitimacy on producer interest in these initiatives. The final study investigates the impact of value-chain structure on these competing initiatives.
The research results highlight distinctions between the rival initiatives. The US jewelry consumer research shows that consumer messages featuring positive impacts on coral reefs outperform third-party certification on luxury attributes. The marine cultured-pearl producer research highlights the network legitimacy advantages of consumer product transparency systems when compared to third-party certifications. The value chain research indicates that, when compared to third-party certifications, consumer product transparency systems have inherent characteristics that provide an advantage in addressing producer upgrading opportunities and small producer participation. Results from each of the three studies highlight the potential advantages of consumer product transparency systems over third party certifications initiatives.

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