Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 513–523 | Cite as

Governance in the age of global markets: challenges, limits, and consequences

  • Lawrence BuschEmail author


We live in an age defined in large part by various facets of neoliberalism. In particular, the market world has impinged on virtually every aspect of food and agriculture. Moreover, most nation-states and many international governance bodies incorporate aspects of neoliberal perspectives. Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs), with their own standards, certifications, and accreditations are evidence of both the continuing hegemony of neoliberalism as well as various responses to it. Importantly, to date even attempts to limit neoliberal hegemony through MSIs have been largely within the parameters established by those same neoliberal agendas. However, neoliberalism is itself in crisis as a result of climate change, the continuing financial crisis, and rising food prices. The founding myths of neoliberalism are still widely held, having the effect of closing off alternative paths to the future. Yet, this need not be the case. Alternatives to the current MSIs that promote justice, democracy, and equality can still be constructed.


Multi-stakeholder initiatives Standards Certification Governance Neoliberalism 



Employee Stockholder Ownership Plan


Multi-stakeholder initiative


Non-governmental organization


Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil


Roundtable on Responsible Soy


Safe Quality Food


Agricultural Ethical Trade Initiative


World Trade Organization



I would like to thank Emmanuelle Cheyns, Michiel Köhne, Lone Riisgaard and Anne Tallontire for their insightful and helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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