Organizing for Sustainability in Transnational Market Reforms: Studies of the EU Biofuels Market

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


In the past few decades, the societal pursuit of sustainability in industrialized economies has impelled many kinds of market reforms. Aiming at sustainability — a rationalized ideal and a moralized template for the economy — multiple, plural actors use market reforms to narrow the gap between the beliefs about what a market should be (sustainable) and what it actually is (unsustainable). However, sustainability as an ideal seems difficult to achieve, and its urgency has invited new approaches. In sustainability-oriented market reforms, organization provides a coordination mechanism to integrate sustainability principles in markets, for instance through rule making. Such transnational market reforms, which ambitiously deal with globally traded commodities and their value chains, pose great challenges. They expand rule-making to multiple contexts and create fluid and permeable regulatory environments. Their underpinning strategic premise is the mutually supportive relation between stewardship of the environment and economic development. It is assumed that firms provide solutions to environmental problems that in turn motivate innovation. However, the organization of a market juxtaposes the interests and practices of the regulated with those of the regulators that may not be aligned. Thus, market reforms in transitions to sustainability enclose important tensions which, to the best of my knowledge, are underexplored. Against this background, and taking a phenomenon-driven research approach, I examine the recent transnational market reform in the European Union's market for road transport biofuels (2003-2015). As a backdrop of support to the research, I developed a theoretical framing of sustainability-oriented market reforms that builds on and adds to the concept of market reform. The empirical research consists of a collection of three interlinked, albeit independent, longitudinal qualitative studies. The studies provide independent contributions to various theoretical frameworks at the interorganizational and organizational levels. By combining their findings, I contribute to a further theorization of sustainability-oriented market reforms. The main contributions of this dissertation to the market reform and adjacent literatures are a view of market organization as a negotiated order, the conceptualization of regulatory currency, which I define as the general acceptance and prevalence of the solutions proposed through regulatory means in a market reform that tackles a social/societal problem, and a discussion of the role of political, strategic and moral agencies. The dissertation also contributes to the literature by offering a nuanced understanding of the dimensions, challenges, and implications of market reforms in complex, transnational, and contentious contexts and draws implications for policy and management practice that may improve the effectiveness of organizing for sustainability in market reforms.
Translated title of the contributionOrganizing for Sustainability in Transnational Market Reforms - Studies of the EU Biofuels Market
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Välikangas, Liisa, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8714-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8715-3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • biofuels
  • market organization
  • market reform
  • negotiated order
  • regulatory currency
  • sustainability
  • transnational market


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