INTERESTS

Narrative CV

My research trajectory has evolved around governing economic life – through markets, regulatory and hybrid forms. I studied Political Science at the University of Padova for my BA, and Social Science and International Relations for my MA at the University of Chicago. In my MA thesis, I examined the effects of market liberalization in Tanzania and Kenya at the macro level. However, what really interested me was the micro-level dynamics of market adaptation in Africa – the unfolding of markets, their social specificities, how people encountered them, how they reacted and how they modified their livelihoods. Thus, I opted to do my PhD at the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia (UK), on exactly these issues, this time focusing on Tanzania. I learned Swahili and carried out 18 months of fieldwork in the country. I found that markets could have positive welfare impacts, but only when a whole other ecosystem of services, infrastructure, institutions and regulation were in place.

 

My research interest then further evolved to address a broader question of market functioning : what happened to the local farmers’ products after they had sold them to traders, middlemen or cooperatives? This formed the starting point for research that I started to carry out from 1999 onwards – first with Peter Gibbon at the Centre for Development Research and then at the Danish Institute for International Studies, and finally at Copenhagen Business School, on Global Value Chains. GVC analysis entails following products, actors and processes from production via processing to distribution, retail, end-use and/or disposal/recycling and to analyze the mechanisms that regulate exchange at each node in the chain. Regulation, both national and international, is important as it frames the rule of the game in GVCs. Agri-food chains constitute a major part of my GVC research, which is mainly concerned with power relations and different types of GVC governance, as well as trajectories for economic and environmental upgrading. 

 

The first GVC I researched, that of coffee, pushed me to dive deeply into the way product quality is assessed along value chains and how it can explain the distribution of welfare effects. Informed by convention theory, this branch of my work addresses what impact quality conventions have on the organization of GVC governance. Two major findings arise from this work: (1) the embodiment of quality in a standard helps lead firms to drive GVCs at a distance, strengthen their position vis a vis their suppliers and to transfer the extra costs of compliance towards producers; and (2) the content of important features of quality increasingly goes beyond product characteristics, and increasingly includes processes, such as the social and environmentally condition of production activities. These findings led to further research on how sustainability standards, labels and certifications are leveraged to govern GVCs in a variety of agro-food products (wine, fish, biofuels), eventually reshaping the structure and characteristics of commodity flows.

 

Sustainability issues as tackled through standards and codes of conduct eventually drew my attention to a parallel development, that of celebrities becoming involved in various ‘causes’ and cause-related marketing initiatives that seek to ‘save the world through shopping’. Together with Lisa Ann Richey, we developed the concept of ‘Brand Aid ’ to signal situations when brands provide aid for a ‘good cause’ and involve celebrities in the marketing of the brand/cause combination. This form of helping addresses ‘problems’ that are completely separate from the conditions of production of the branded goods that are sold to ‘help’ distant others. 

 

Most recently, I have been integrating these insights on governance, power and sustainability in global value chains. In my latest book , I show how managing sustainability concerns has become big business. Yet, climate change, rampant deforestation and loss of biodiversity suggest that corporations are not doing nearly enough to address global sustainability challenges.  In the name of sustainability, a massive transfer of resources is taking place along global value chains – from the global South to the global North, from producers to global buyers and consumers, and from labour to capital. Global buyers are finding new ways to extract environmental value from their suppliers, making more money for themselves while leaving little impact on sustainability. The accumulation of ‘green capital’ goes hand in hand with a failure to tackle ‘brown environments’. Current regulatory instruments are falling short and multi-stakeholder initiatives, social movements and activism still have a long way to go. Drawing from twenty years of research from the ground up, this book suggests new ways of addressing these challenges. 

RESUME

ACADEMIC BACKGROUND

1999 Ph.D., University of East Anglia (UK), Development Studies
1994 M.A. with Honors, University of Chicago (USA),

Social Science/International Relations
1993 Laurea cum Laude, University of Padova (Italy), Political Science

 

Metrics

Google Scholar: 10116 citations, h-index 43

CURRENT POSITIONS AND PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Director, Centre for Business and Development Studies, Copenhagen Business School (2019- )

  • Professor of International Political Economy, Copenhagen Business School (2012-)

  • Member, Academic Council, Copenhagen Business School (2019- )

  • Member, Advisory Committee for Development Research (FFU), DK Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012-) Member, Board of Directors, Danida Fellowship Centre, DK Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2016-)

  • Member, Advisory Board, CBS Sustainability (2017-)

  • Member, International Advisory Committee (IAC), GPN Centre at National University of Singapore (2014-)

  • Member, Governing Responsible Business (GRB) World Class Research Environment, CBS (2017-)

  • Member, Responsible Global Value Chains, University of Montpellier (2016-)

  • Member, Trade Policy Network, DK Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2015-)

  • Faculty Associate, Governance, Environment & Markets (GEM) initiative, Yale University (2014-)

  • Member, Global Value Chains Initiative, Duke University Centre on Global Value Chains (2005-)

  • Membership of Editorial Boards and Scientific Committees: Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies (2018-), Environment and Planning A (2016-), Geoforum (2014-), Review of African Political Economy (2012-), African Affairs (2011-), Third World Quarterly (2014-2017, resigned) 

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

  • Co-Investigator, The Hidden Costs of Supply Chains, SSHRC Grant (Canada) (2018-24)

  • Co-Investigator, Green Shipping: Governance and Innovation for a Sustainable Maritime Supply Chain,  SSHRC Partnership Grant (Canada) (2017-23)

  • Principal Investigator, New Partnerships for Sustainability (NEPSUS), FFU research and capacity building programme (Denmark) (2016-2020)

INTERESTS

  • General: global economy, global value chains, political economy of development, transnational hybrid governance, standards and certifications on sustainability, ethical trade and consumption, branding, aid celebrities, new forms of international aid, cause-related marketing

  • Theoretical: global value chain analysis, convention theory

  • Disciplinary: international political economy, economic geography, economic sociology, development studies

  • Sectoral: agro-food industries (coffee, capture fish, aquaculture, wine, biofuels)

  • Geographic: emerging economies and low-income countries; Africa: Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia; Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

PREVIOUS POSITIONS

  • 2017/18 Visiting Scholar, Duke Global Value Chains Center, Duke University

  • 2012-2016 Academic Director, CBS Sustainability Platform, Copenhagen Business School

  • 2014-2016 Co-founder and coordinator, Copenhagen Sustainability Initiative (COSI), Copenhagen Business School, Denmark Technical University and University of Copenhagen

  • 2016 Visiting Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore (1 month)

  • 2003-2012 Senior Researcher, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Copenhagen

  • 2009-2012 Head, Research Unit ‘Global Economy, Regulation and Development’, DIIS

  • 2009-2012 Member of the Research Committee, DIIS

  • 2011 Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Economics and Management, University of Padova (3 months)

  • 2003-2008 Visiting Lecturer, Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen

  • 2005-2008 Research Associate, Tralac (Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa), Stellenbosch, South Africa

  • 2002-2007 Research Associate, Economic Policy Research Centre, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

  • 2004-2005 Research Associate, PLAAS (Programme on Land and Agrarian Studies), School of Government, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

  • 1999-2003 Researcher, Centre for Development Research, Copenhagen

  • 2000 Research Associate, Development Studies Institute, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania

  • 2000 Visiting Scholar, African Studies Center, Boston University

  • 1997-1999 Visiting Lecturer, Center for International Development Research, Duke University

  • 1997-1998 Visiting Lecturer, Dept. of Political Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

  • 1997-1998 Visiting Lecturer, Dept. of African Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

  • 1995-1996 Visiting Ph.D., Development Studies Institute, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania

FELLOWSHIPS, AWARDS AND RESEARCH FUNDING

  • 2018-24: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Research Grant ‘The Hidden Costs of Supply Chains’, led by the University of British Columbia. Co-investigator.

  • 2017- 23: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Research Partnership Grant ‘Green shipping: governance and innovation for a sustainable maritime supply chain’, led by the University of British Columbia. Co-investigator, CAD 2,500,000 (€ 1.7m)

  • 2016-20Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Consultative Research Committee for Development Research (FFU), funding for the research and capacity building programme ‘New Partnerships for Sustainability’ (NEPSUS). PI, amount funded: DKK 10,000,000 (€ 1.3m)

  • 2009-14: European Union FP7, funding for the research programme ‘Sustaining Ethical Aquaculture Trade’ (SEAT) to a consortium of research institutes led by the University of Stirling; carrying out studies of global value chains for aquaculture products, together with WorldFish Center, Penang, see www.seatglobal.eu Amount to DIIS: Dkk 1,270,000 (€ 170,000)

  • 2005-10: Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Consultative Research Committee for Development Research (FFU), funding for the research and capacity building programme ‘Standards and Agro-Food Exports: Identifying Challenges and Outcomes for Developing Countries’ (SAFE) – with Peter Gibbon. See www.diis.dk/safe. Amount funded: DKK 5,936,000 (€ 796,000)

  • 2006: Danish Research Council for Society and Business (FSE), funding for organizing workshop “To BEE or not to BEE? South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), corporate governance and the state in the South,” Copenhagen (26-27 June 2006).

  • 2004-06: Research Network on Governance, Economic Policy and Public Administration (GEPPA), partfunding for the “Trade Mondays” Seminar Series.

  • 2004-06: Danish Social Science Research Council (SSF), funding for the research project “Standards as a Trade Passport: How Labels, Certifications and Quality Conventions Affect Development Prospects”. Amount assigned to Stefano Ponte: DKK 1,051,000 (€ 140,000)

  • 1999-02: Danish Social Science Research Council (SSF), Post-Doctoral Fellowship for the research project “Globalisation and African Agriculture: The Restructuring of Coffee Marketing Systems in East Africa”. Amount assigned to Stefano Ponte: ca DKK 800,000 (€ 107,000)

  • 1995-98: University of East Anglia Graduate Research Fellowship, for PhD dissertation research.

  • 1995-96: School of Development Studies Fieldwork Support Grant, University of East Anglia.

  • 1994-95: University of Padova Fellowship for Graduate Studies, for PhD at the Univ. of East Anglia.

  • 1994-95: University of Chicago Morton Kaplan Prize. The prize is awarded annually to a recent Honors graduate whose Master’s paper has made an original contribution to the knowledge and understanding of international relations.

  • 1993-94: J. William Fulbright Grant, from the US Institute for International Education, for Graduate Studies at the University of Chicago.

SELECTED COMMISSIONED AND CONSULTANCY WORK

  • Member of the reference group, “Evaluation of Danida Support to Value Chain Development”, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Evaluation Department 

  • Team leader, “Pro-poor chain development tool for practitioners,” UNIDO

  • Team leader, “Evaluation study: Gender and value chain development,” Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Evaluation Department

  • Commissioned study, “Value chains, market access and competitiveness,” background paper for “Adding value to Africa’s agro-industry and trade: An agenda for action,”

FIELDWORK EXPERIENCE

  • Tanzania (2016-20): sustainability partnerships in forestry, wildlife and coastal resources

  • Brazil, Malaysia, US and EU (various periods, 2011-14): biofuel regulation, sustainability certification

  • Uganda and South Africa (11 months; various periods in 2004, 2005 and 2007/08): impact of EU food safety standards and regulation, ‘sustainability’ certifications, and domestic ‘transformation’ processes on the Ugandan and South African fish export industries; study of branding, geographic origin and ‘quality’ in the South African wine industry;

  • Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda (10 months; June-December 2000 and January-April 2002): restructuring of coffee marketing, commodity chain analysis

  • Tanzania (18 months; June 1995 – December 1996): liberalization of agricultural markets, rural livelihoods, agrarian change

EXAMINED OVER 15 PHDS INTERNATIONALLY AND SUPERVISED THE FOLLOWING PHD PROJECTS:

  • Karen Sau Jespersen, “Sustaining ethical aquaculture trade in Asia” (DIIS and Dept of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University) 

  • Juan Ignacio Staricco, “Towards a Fair Global Economic Regime? The case of Argentinean Fair Trade Wine” (Dept of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School)

  • Raymond Mnenwa, “Costs and benefits of compliance with EUREP-GAP standards” (DIIS and Dept of Agribusiness, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania)

  • Lone Riisgaard, “Social and environmental standards in the floriculture sector of East Africa: Implications for employment and trade” (DIIS and Dept of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University)

  • Stine Jessen Haakonsson, “Intellectual Property Rights and the Global Pharmaceutical Industry – Consequences for Developing Countries” (DIIS and Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen)

  • Vilhelm Holsting, “The professionalization of military command: An examination of justification regimes in military command” (Department of Operations Management, CBS)

  • Faraja Namkesa, “Institutional Partnerships for Coastal Resources Management: Implications on Fishery Communities in Mtwara, Tanzania” (Dept of Geography, Univ of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

PREVIOUS RESEARCH PROJECTS, PROGRAMMES AND NETWORKS

  • ‘Network on Celebrity and North-South Relations’, affiliated researcher (2012-16) www.celebnorthsouth.wordpress.com

  • ‘CBS Task Force on Emerging Economies and Developing Countries’, member (2013-16)

  • ‘Copenhagen Biofuel Research Network’ (COBREN), partly funded by FFU (one post-doc and one PhD), ISG-RUC and DIIS (one PhD), and the CBS Sustainability Platform (co-funding an international conference); coordinator (2011-14)

  • ‘Sustaining Ethical Aquaculture Trade’ (SEAT) – research programme funded by the EU under FP7 (2009-2013); Researcher and institutional representative; see www.seatglobal.eu

  • ‘Standards and Agro-Food Exports’ (SAFE) research and capacity building programme funded by Danida’s research arm and carried out jointly with Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania (2005-2010) – Researcher and Coordinator (2007-09); see www.diis.dk/safe

  • ‘Danish Development Research Network’ (DDRN): Member (2007-); Member of the board (2007/08)

  •  ‘Standards and Rules of Trade’ (START) international research network (2004/07); Coordinator

  • ‘WTO, Trade and Development’ (WTRADE) network (2004/07); Coordinator of network and of the ‘Trade Mondays’ seminar series

  • ‘Standards as a Trade Passport’ post-doctoral research project (2004/06); Principal Researcher

  • ‘Globalization and Economic Restructuring in Africa’ (GLAF) research programme (1999/2003) – Member and researcher

  • ‘Regulation, Quality Management and Market Organization in African Commodity Markets’ research project (1999/2003) – Principal Researcher

ORGANIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS (2012-)

  • Organizer of the international workshop New Frontiers of Research on Global Value Chains and Global Wealth Chains, Dept. of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School (June 2017)

  • Co-organizer of the international workshop Manufacturing Activities and Value Creation: Industry 4.0, Global Value Chains, and the Circular Economy, Dept. of Economics and Management, Univ. of Padova (May 2017)

  • Co-organizer of the International Sustainability Conference, Copenhagen Business School: 100+ participants (June 2016)

  • Co-organizer of the international conference Green Economy in the South, University of Dodoma, Tanzania: 90 participants http://greeneconomyinthesouth.wordpress.com (July 2014)

  • Organizer of the international conference Governing Sustainable Biofuels: Markets, Certification and Technology, Copenhagen Business School: 30 participants http://cobren.wordpress.com/2012-conference/ (November 2012)

SELECTED KEYNOTES, GUEST LECTURES AND CONFERENCE PAPERS/PRESENTATIONS (2016-)

  • “Additive manufacturing and the restructuring of global value chains,” Colloquium on “A Digital Industrial Policy,” organized by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development, University of Johannesburg; Pretoria, South Africa (12-13 November 2018)

  • “New Partnerships for Sustainability in Tanzania: Governance, Complexity and Outcomes,” presented at the Association of African Studies (UK) Biannual conference, Birmingham (12 September 2018)

  • “From Pyramid to Pointed Egg: A 20-year Perspective on Wealth Distribution and Livelihood Change in Tanzania,” presented at the Association of African Studies (UK) Biannual conference, Birmingham (12 September 2018)

  • “Multi-stakeholder Sustainability Initiatives in the Global South: Governance, Complexity and Outcomes,” presented at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, New Orleans (13 April 2018)

  • “The Academic Mode of Production: Click-bait and Contemporary Publishing Perils,” panel discussion at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, New Orleans (12 April 2018)

  • “The Case against Colonialism,” panel discussion at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, New Orleans (11 April 2018)

  • “Green Capital Accumulation: Sustainability Governance in a World of Global Value Chains,” presented at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, New Orleans (10 April 2018)

  • “Green Capital Accumulation: How Business Profits from Environmental Sustainability in a World of Global Value Chains,” presented at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), San Francisco (6 April 2018)

  • “Complexity Galore: Governance and Outcomes of Sustainability Initiatives in Africa,” invited presentation at the Jama seminar series, African Studies Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (25 January 2018)

  • “Multi-stakeholder Sustainability Initiatives in the Global South: Governance, Complexity and Outcomes,” invited paper for the international workshop on “Private Authority and Public Policy in Global Context,” Yale University (11-12 January 2018)

  • “Green Capital Accumulation: How Business Profits from Environmental Sustainability in a World of Global Value Chains,” invited paper presented at the Conference on Global Production, National University of Singapore (6-8 December 2017)

  • “Batman, Starbucks and Revitalizing Coffee in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” paper presented at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting, Chicago (15-18 November 2017)

  • “Green Capital Accumulation: How Business Profits from Environmental Sustainability”, invited seminar, Duke University Global Value Chain Center (3 October 2017)

  • “Governing Sustainability in a World of Global Value Chains,” invited seminar, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (19 September 2017)

  • “Governing Sustainability in a World of Global Value Chains,” presented at the international workshop New Frontiers of Research on Global Value Chains and Global Wealth Chains, Dept. of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School (15 June 2017)

  • “How to publish: Tips and strategies for early-career academics,” invited seminar, Roskilde University (28 October, 2016)

  • “Governing Sustainability in a World of Global Value Chains,” public seminar, Global Production Network Centre and Department of Geography, National University of Singapore (25 May, 2016);

  • “Governing Sustainability in a World of Global Value Chains,” public seminar, Faculty of Management, Bogor University of Agriculture, Indonesia (10 May, 2016);

  • “Convention theory and agro-food studies,” presented at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, San Francisco (2 April, 2016)

  • “The network origins of the global biofuel aviation industry,” presented at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, San Francisco (31 March, 2016) – with Lasse Folke Henriksen

  • “Buyer-driven greening? Cargo-owners and environmental upgrading in maritime shipping,” presented at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, San Francisco (30 March, 2016)

LANGUAGES

Italian: Native Speaker        
English: Excellent
Swahili, Danish, French: Good/Fair
Spanish, Portuguese: Reading only

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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