Supermarkets and private standards : unintended consequences of the audit ritual
Davey, Stephen S. & Richards, Carol (2013) Supermarkets and private standards : unintended consequences of the audit ritual. Agriculture and Human Values, 30(2), pp. 271-281.
Recent scholarship has considered the implications of the rise of voluntary private standards in food and the role of private actors in a rapidly evolving, de-facto ‘mandatory’ sphere of governance. Standards are an important element of this globalising private sphere, but are an element that has been relatively peripheral in analyses of power in agri-food systems. Sociological thought has countered orthodox views of standards as simple tools of measurement, instead understanding their function as a governance mechanism that transforms many things, and people, during processes of standardisation. In a case study of the Australian retail supermarket duopoly and the proprietary standards required for market access this paper foregrounds retailers as standard owners and their role in third-party auditing and certification. Interview data from primary research into Australia’s food standards captures the multifaceted role supermarkets play as standard-owners, who are found to impinge on the independence of third-party certification while enforcing rigorous audit practices. We show how standard owners, in attempting to standardize the audit process, generate tensions within certification practices in a unique example of ritualism around audit. In examining standards to understand power in contemporary food governance, it is shown that retailers are drawn beyond standard-setting into certification and enforcement, that is characterized by a web of institutions and actors whose power to influence outcomes is uneven.
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|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Keywords:||Audit, Governance, Private standards, Retailers, Third-party certification, Global agrifood system, 3rd-party certification, Food system, Safety, Countries, Economy, Chains, Grades|
|Divisions:||Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School|
|Copyright Owner:||Copyright 2013 Springer|
|Deposited On:||13 Mar 2014 23:13|
|Last Modified:||16 Mar 2014 22:01|
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