Global Environmental Politics, Vol 10, No 3, 2010, pp. 97-119
Nonstate certification programs have formed in the past 20 years to address social and environmental problems associated with production practices in several economic sectors. These programs embody the idea that information disclosure can be a tool for NGOs, investors, governments, and consumers to support high performers and hence, advocates hope, place upward pressure on sector-wide practices. Many unanswered questions remain, however, about information disclosure's practices and outcomes. We compare the use of procedural and outcome transparency in the rule-making and auditing processes of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). We highlight key differences in how transparency relates to accountability and legitimacy of the programs. The MSC uses transparency and stakeholder consultation instrumentally, whereas the FSC treats them as ends unto themselves. This underscores the importance of considering transparency alongside other governance aspects, such as who the eligible stakeholders are and who gets decision-making power.