Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.

Chapter 22: Voluntary standards as enablers and impediments to sustainable consumption

Andreas Rasche

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, economic psychology, environment, ecological economics, environmental sociology


Voluntary standards for corporate sustainability and responsibility have proliferated over the last two decades. Examples of such standards include ISO 14001, the United Nations Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council. Although these standards differ significantly in terms of how they function and what they aim to achieve – ranging from broad principles to stipulate organizational learning around responsible business (Rasche 2012) to initiatives which certify and label organizations, products and services (Berliner and Prakash 2013) – they jointly reflect what Waddock (2008) calls a ‘new institutional infrastructure’ for corporate sustainability and responsibility. Such standards have been subject of intense scholarly debate. Research has explored how selected initiatives are produced (Tamm Hallström 2008), in what ways standards can achieve legitimacy (Bernstein and Cashore 2007), what impact standard adoption has on social and environmental problems (Bartley 2007; Potoski and Prakash 2005), what factors determine standard diffusion (Delmas 2002) and whether adopters walk their talk when signing up to initiatives (Behnam and Maclean 2011).

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