Policy convergence and policy diffusion by governmental and non-governmental institutions: an international comparison of eco-labeling systems
The study deals with eco-labeling systems that have spread faster than other types of new policy instruments. The paper focuses on the diffusion of two different types of eco-labels: (1) general eco-labeling systems such as the German "Blue Angel" (Blauer Engel), and (2) the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification program. We start with three different explanations for policy convergence: international regimes, regional integration, and global policy diffusion. Policy diffusion is gaining in importance due to the diffusion processes triggered by the emergence of international, intergovernmental, and transnational transfer institutions. It is assumed that govern- mental or quasi-governmental transfer institutions (general eco-labels) and non- governmental transfer institutions (FSC label) have similar functions and effects. Our main thesis is that labels can diffuse globally, be decided on, and even implemented at the national level without significant state influence. Furthermore, three success factors for the national performance of eco-labeling schemes are analyzed: (1) the characteristics of policy innovations (costs of labeling etc.); (2) the economic, societal, and political-institutional capacities for action; (3) the co-existence and competition between different eco-labeling systems which can result in converging standards. On this basis some conclusions regarding the overall performance of transnational network organizations, such as the FSC, are drawn.