Linking Local Experiments to Global Standards: How Project Networks Promote Global Institution-Building

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Global regulations, such as social and environmental standards, often result from project-based multi-stakeholder initiatives. Many initiatives fail because key stakeholders cannot be mobilized, or partners are incapable of establishing common ground. We show that local development projects aimed at testing and implementing new practices at the local level and strategically coordinated project networks linking local projects and project partners together across national boundaries can facilitate global institution-building. Based on a longitudinal case study of the emergence of the Common Code for the Coffee Community, we develop a process model of global standard development and discuss in particular the importance of global project networks as intermediary organizational forms. We inform research on global standard development and institution-building, and project-based learning and coordination across national boundaries.