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Journal of Change Management 13, 4 (2013) 444-459
The paper analyses the social and environmental issues involved in disputes relating to the sustainability of the palm oil industry. These disputes have been aired in and around the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. We start by developing a review of types of voluntary environmental initiative or green clubs, as they have also been called, in this context. The study is based on extensive fieldwork in the setting of the disputes (the island of Borneo) and analysis of the different levels in the global value chain of the palm oil industry, including local organizations, the industry structure overall, as well as the local governments of Malaysia and Indonesia. The use of the political ecology framework for the analysis of the palm oil industry contributes not only to the development of a more institutional-power perspective, but also provides solid grounds for the understanding of green clubs – an increasingly important type of organization.