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Centre for International Environmental Studies

Transnational Private Governance for the Environment in China

  • Timeline: 2015 – 2018
  • Researcher: Yixian Sun
  • Keywords: Environmental Governance, Private Authority, Transnational Relations, Chinese Politics, Domestic Regulatory Institutions, Voluntary Standards, Political Economy
  • Funding Organisation: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)



Originating from advanced economies, many private governance programmes are gradually introduced to developing countries where global production increasingly consolidates. However, very little research attempts to uncover whether transnational private governance is able to “trade up” environmental standards in these countries. The dissertation seeks to bridge this gap by examining factors which determine variation in China’s uptake of transnational private governance for different environmental issues. Theoretically, China is a critical case because of its political institutions, thus the project also investigates whether the authoritarian regime only leaves very limited space for private governance in China as is often assumed. The project will develop a dataset on the private governance programmes having been introduced in China, and test hypotheses on driving forces for Chinese firms’ participation through statistical analyses and paired case studies. By exploring the causes of the success or failure of private environmental governance in China, along with dynamic public-private interactions between private governance and state regulation there, the project will contribute to the scholarship on environmental governance and private authority, on the one hand, and to international relations and Chinese politics, on the other.