Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 135, Issue 2, pp 309–326 | Cite as

Governance of Eco-Labels: Expert Opinion and Media Coverage

  • Pavel Castka
  • Charles J. Corbett


“Eco-labels” are an increasingly important form of private regulation for sustainability in areas such as carbon emissions, water consumption, ethical sourcing, or organic produce. The growing interest and popularity of eco-labels has also been coupled with growing concerns about their credibility, in part because the standard-setting and conformity assessment practices that eco-labels adopt exhibit striking differences. In this paper, we assess which assurance practices contribute to eco-labels being perceived as better governed, in the eyes of experts as well as the media. Unlike previous studies, which are mostly conceptual, qualitative, or focused on one or few eco-labels, we study a large set of eco-labels, combining data from three different sources. Our findings suggest that experts and media are primarily concerned about “re-assurance” practices, looking for one or preferably multiple layers of “re-assurance” that independent parties are overseeing the eco-label and the firms certified under it.


Eco-labels Assurance Third party audit Governance Voluntary regulation Media coverage 



We are very grateful to the many experts who participated in this study, and to Anastasia O’Rourke (co-founder of Big Room Inc., the organization behind, Olivier Peyrat (Director General of AFNOR, the Association Française de Normalisation), Dr. James Galloway (CEO, Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand), and Paddy Doherty and Kristin Komives at the ISEAL Alliance, as well as participants in several seminar and conference presentations on this work, for helpful discussions. (As usual, all opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors.) We also wish to thank Sasha Nichols for his assistance with the literature search. Most of all, we are deeply indebted to the team of UCLA Anderson MBA students (Class of 2011) who conducted the expert interviews, collected the expert survey responses, and coded the articles: Kuldip K. Ambastha, Soumya Gadde, Lawrence Herbert, Madhavi (Mia) Naik, and Ryan Perry. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, Marketing and EntrepreneurshipUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.UCLA Anderson School of ManagementLos AngelesUSA

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