Cultivating the niche: a study of the origins and consequences of standards-based certification organizations in the U.S. organic food industry
Standards-based certification organizations (SBCOs) as a source of market order have been largely neglected as a topic of study by social scientists, particularly when compared to other sources of order such as the state and the market. This dissertation presents three papers that examine the origins of SBCOs, their impact on broader regulatory structure, and how they influence market entry and exit rates in the U.S. organic food industry. The first paper, "Fences and Gates: An Inductive Case Study of StandardsBased Certification Organizations in the U.S. Organic Food Industry," employs qualitative evidence to develop a typology of SBCOs and then quantitatively assesses what facilitating conditions led to the founding of distinctive SBCO forms in U.S. states. Findings from this paper suggest that the codification of standards and certification processes initially served as a "fence" that established a boundary around the concept of organic but which subsequently served as a "gate" by which industry outsiders entered the organic industry and engendered endogenous field-level change, significantly altering the trajectory of the market. The second paper, "Mechanisms Generating Variation: Regulatory Change in the Organic Food Industry," empirically examines how different SBCO forms influence variation and evolution in the content of industry law. This approach moves beyond extant dichotomous conceptualizations of regulation that dominate institutional analyses of regulatory structure. The results of this paper provide answers to questions of when and under what conditions private governance organizations influence variation and evolution of industry regulation. The third paper, "Certifying the Harvest: The Role of Standards-Based Certification Organizations in Market Entry and Exit Dynamics," examines how SBCOs, through key processes of creation of standards, advocacy, verification of compliance, and endorsement, influence patterns of market entry and exit of organic producers. Drawing on state-level and firm-level data sets spanning a 15-year period (1986-2000), I show that SBCOs stimulate entry into the market and that the certification they provide to individual firms inhibits market exit and moderates the competitive effects of increasing form density. (Abstract).
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DATA AND METHODS
MECHANISMS GENERATING VARIATION REGULATORY
CERTIFYING THE HARVEST THE ROLE OF STANDARDSBASED
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Administrative Science Quarterly amendments analysis box plots broader Brunsson bureaucratic Cambridge CCOF certification program concept consumer CORRELATIONS creation Department of Agriculture dependent variable dynamics early economic Economic Sociology established firm Food Co-ops forms of SBCOs governance Grattet growers Hannan hate crime hypothesis ideological influence institutional change institutional entrepreneurs Interview June 20 label Lady Eve Balfour law passage legislation Liberal voters market entry market exit Model nonprofit SBCOs normative Number of farms observation period OCIA chapters Oregon organic agriculture organic certification Organic Farmers organic food industry organic food laws Organic Gardening organic ingredients organic production organically grown Organizational Ecology organizational forms Podolny political processes provisions regulation regulatory elaboration regulatory inertia Rodale role Ruef SBCO forms SBCO founding Schneiberg Scott significant similarity score Social Movements source of solidarity standards standards-based certification organizations state-year Stinchcombe structure third-party certification U.S. organic food University Press w/law Westlaw wholesalers Zald