Governing economic life by Professor Ponte - article
On May 30, Professor Stefano Ponte, Department of Business and Politics and Academic Co-Director of the Sustainability Platform, gave his inaugural lecture at CBS. It was a personal account of a research journey from Italy back in the 1980s to his employment at CBS in September 2012, through a Master's degree at the University of Chicago, a PhD at the University of East Anglia in the UK, and 13 years as researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies (earlier, the Centre for Development Research) in Copenhagen.
From the farm to the coffee cup
Stefano's interest in markets, regulation and hybrid governance took off in Tanzania while researching the path from socialism to a market oriented economy. It was also in Africa (Tanzania and Uganda) that he first started researching the mechanisms of global value chains in the early 2000s, where he followed the coffee value chain from the farmer all the way to consumptions markets in Italy and the USA. In his quest to understanding what actors governed value chains and how, Stefano developed an interest on how negotiations and arbitration over quality along a value chain shape power relations, something that he further explored in the wine and fish sectors. Given that equality in food and beverages also includes social and environmental sustainability of production and trade, he subsequently worked on sustainability labels and certifications and other forms of hybrid governance that involve business, civil society and the state.
Celebrities as governors
Stefano's research on sustainability labels also highlighted the emergence of non-traditional actors in governance, including celebrities. His most recent book (Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World, co-authored with Lisa Ann Richey) examines how and why celebrities are increasingly active in telling consumers how to 'shop to save the world', and what consequences this has for other forms of aid. The book argues that Brand Aid is both aid to brands and brands that provide aid, and that Bono's Product RED initiative is helping transform conscious consumption into compassionate consumption.
At CBS, Professor Ponte will continue his theoretical and empirical work on global value chain governance and the conceptual model of Brand Aid. He will also carry out further work on hybrid governance, with particular focus on sustainable biofuels, in cooperation with Denmark Technical University and the University of Copenhagen.
More than 50 colleagues and students from CBS, RUC, and the University of Copenhagen attended the lecture, which was opened by CBS Dean of Research, Alan Irwin and DBP's Head of Department, Susana Borras.