The 2017 Jack Westoby Lecture "Bringing the State Back in: Reflections on the Role of Private Governance in the 21st Century"

Professor Cashore draws on lessons from 25 years of “Non-State Market Driven” (NSMD) global governance to make two related arguments:

First, scholars and practitioners must spend more attention carefully developing strategies that are consistent with, and draw on, NSMD system’s ‘causal influence logics’ if they are to achieve their direct potential

Second, NGO, businesses and government strategists can also draw on NSMD systems to travel three other pathways that integrate state based approaches: symbiotic, hybrid, and superseding. Drawing on examples from forestry and beyond, I argue that only one pathway can be travelled at any given time.

This means that students of resource and environmental policy must have the skills and focus to:  

  • carefully assess which pathways seems to have the most problem-solving potential, and
  • identifying, and nurturing, the sequential steps involved in each of these pathways. I argue that much of the attention on NSMD’s direct pathways, has worked to inadvertently limit NSMD’s direct impact, while simultaneously undermining the role of the state. I offer a range of strategies for overcoming these challenges in ways that maintains the role of private governance, albeit in a more modest role than its founders had intended.

About the speaker

Professor Cashore is based at Yale University. His research interests include the emergence of non-state, market-driven environmental governance; the impact of globalization, internationalization, and transnational networks on domestic policy choices; comparative environmental and forest policy development; and firm-level “beyond compliance” sustainability initiatives. His book, “Governing Through Markets: Forest Certification and the Emergence of Non-state Authority” (with Graeme Auld and Deanna Newsom), was awarded the International Studies Association’s 2005 Sprout Prize for the best book on international environmental policy and politics.

The book is part of a large research effort aimed at understanding the emergence of non-state market-driven global environmental governance and its interactions with state authority, regulations, and institutions. Through the GEM initiative he helps shepherd five interrelated thematic efforts: forest policy and governance; private authority/corporate social responsibility; climate change as a “super wicked” problem; policy change and policy learning; and democracy, environment and human rights. More information at