Last week I gave a talk as part of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment Spring Seminar Series, which is organized by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the University Program in Environmental Policy. The goal of the series is to feature “leading experts discussing a variety of pressing environmentally focused topics,” and last fall Professor Erica Weinthal of the Nicholas School had asked if I had wanted to present some of my work on environmental certifications and ratings as part of the series. I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of the work I have been doing during my sabbatical, and so agreed to give a talk on “The Purveyors of Green: The Organizational Legitimacy of Eco-Labels and Sustainability Ratings.”
It actually turned out to be perfect timing to do this presentation, because I had just received an invitation to revise and re-submit an article on precisely this topic. I am also in the process of working on Chapter 2 of my book manuscript, which is also focused on the organizational legitimacy and credibility of information-based governance strategies. I was particularly interested in getting feedback on a new conceptual framework I have been working on that uses principal-agent and delegation theory to connect the concepts of legitimacy, credibility, and accountability.
A good mix of students and faculty attended the talk, including some from outside the Nicholas School, which was nice to see. I got about halfway through the talk before questions from the audience started coming in, which was great as it allowed for more interaction and back-and-forth about my research. Audience members were interested in discussing not only my theoretical model, but also learning more about my research methods and empirical results, and it was nice to have the opportunity to talk about them in more depth. Definitely a helpful discussion, and I plan to incorporate many of the comments into my next drafts.