Associate Professor Graeme Auld, School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA)

Graeme Auld, an Associate Professor and Director in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), has received a Faculty of Public Affairs’ Research Excellence Chair.

“Graeme is internationally known for the quality of his work on the environmental and ethical governance of private industries,” said André Plourde, Dean of the Faculty of Public Affairs. “We are proud that the FPA Research Excellence Chair will be supporting this cutting-edge research effort.”

Professor Auld’s research considers the wide range of private certification programs that have developed in recent decades. Consumers will be familiar with these initiatives through the ethical and environmental labels they see on products from coffee and fish to cosmetics and timber. Yet, they are not merely labels. Behind each label there is an organization – supported by businesses and non-governmental organizations – that set standards of responsible business practice that companies must be audited against to have their products carry the ethical or environmental label. By setting independent rules and requiring independent audits, they go beyond the self-claims of companies that observers often view as greenwashing.

“In attempting to be more credible, private certification programs face a critical challenge,” Auld explains. “Rigorous audits, which take time and money, are one way a certification program can signal credibility. However, long and costly audits can dissuade companies from seeking certification, even responsible companies, which can also reduce a program’s credibility.”

Professor Auld, with his colleague Stefan Renckens from the University of Toronto, are studying this challenge and its implications by examining the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a leading certification program for responsible seafood. “We are building and analyzing a dataset that enables us to examine how fisheries experience an MSC audit and what this tells us about how the MSC is attempting to be seen as credible, efficient, and effective in the eyes of companies, environmental groups, seafood vendors and ultimately consumers.”

This challenge is also not unique to private certification. Debates about time limits on environmental assessment processes, for instance, speak to the broad significance of regulatory delays as a concern for companies. In this way, Auld’s work offers broader lessons about the design and implementation of regulation, implications he plans to disseminate through journal articles, a book, a website that will cover a number of projects on transnational private governance, and through the use of Twitter and short audio recordings.

The Faculty of Public Affairs’ Research Excellence Chair offers support to an FPA researcher in each of the three categories: Assistant, Associate and Full Professor. The Assistant Professor Chair is held by SPPA researcher Amanda Clarke. The full Professor Chair will be announced later in the year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 in , , , , ,
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