Collaborative governance or state regulation? Endless efforts but little capacity for sustainability transformation of the German textile sector

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Collaborative governance is increasingly demanded in multiple sectors and considered promising to address wicked sustainability challenges. Whether it meets these expectations remains uncertain, particularly as such initiatives take place within a broader landscape of public and private policies and projects. We explore how collaborative governance initiative is shaped by its broader landscape to deliver on its goals. To do so, we provide a framework for analysing governance modes and social interactions in col-laborative governance. We use an exploratory case study of the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (hereafter: Textiles Partnership). The partnership is a multi-stake-holder, collaborative governance initiative that links to a variety of different initiatives, and highlights barriers and transformation potential both within and outside its boundaries. Based on qualitative interviews, analysis of policy documents and a focus group discussion, we show that the complexity of the landscape field is accompanied by capacity constraints for all actors involved. Such complexity raises questions about whether this governance mode influences actual change on the ground, or diverts energies into navigating and proliferating complexity with low levels of meaningful outcomes. There is a growing call from actors within the partnership towards more state-centred regulation, resulting in a Due Diligence Act in 2021, to regulate corporate action across national borders. The evidence we present shows the need to reconsider the balance between state regulation and collaborative governance arrangements. K E Y W O R D S collaborative governance, corporate social responsibility, due diligence act, modes of governance, social interactions, sustainability transformation
ZeitschriftEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Seiten (von - bis)56-77
Anzahl der Seiten22
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 02.2023

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles for their committed cooperation. This research was made possible within the graduate school “Processes of Sustainability Transformation”, which is a cooperation between Leuphana University of Lüneburg and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung (12.5.F082.0021.0).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.