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dr. P. (Philip) Schleifer

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Political Economy and Transnational Governance
Photographer: Auroa Scheftel

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Room number: B8.21
Postal address
  • Postbus 15578
    1001 NB Amsterdam
Contact details
Social media
  • Profile

    Philip joined the Political Science Department at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) as Assistant Professor in Transnational Governance in January 2016. Previously to his appointment at UvA, he was a Max Weber Fellow and a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute. Philip held visiting positions at Duke University and the London School of Economics. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

    Areas of specialization

    • Transnational environmental governance
    • International trade and sustainable development
    • Political economy of natural resources
    • Global value chains and CSR

    Philip studies the effectiveness and legitimacy of new modes of governance, with a focus on sustainability in global production networks. His past and present projects investigate the transparency and effectiveness of voluntary standards in global value chains, the design of hybrid governance in the European Union, and the political economy of natural resource production in the Global South. His work has been published in high impact journals, including Review of International Political Economy, Regulation & Governance, Global Environmental Politics, Governance, and Globalizations

    At UvA, Philip is a member of the management board of the Political Economy and Transnational Governance (PETGOV) group. He is also a research fellow of the Earth System Governance Project. His other activities include advisory work for international organizations and governments, including  the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the International Trade Centre, and the Dutch Government.

  • Teaching

    Courses 2018-19

    Transnational Governance - BA Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE), UvA

    This course introduces students to the diverse and dynamic field of transnational governance. Its main objectives are threefold. First, students will learn about the history and theory of transnational relations. We will discuss the intellectual development of the field and consider different explanations of the rise and institutionalization of transnational governance. In addition, we will discuss how the shift from government to governance challenges our thinking about fundamental political concepts, such as legitimacy, power, and effectiveness. Second, the course introduces students to key actors and issues in transnational governance – in particular, but not exclusively, its private variety. Topics covered during the course include: the governance of sustainability in global supply chains, the provision of health services in areas of limited statehood, the effectiveness of human rights advocacy, and transnational security governance. Throughout the course guest speakers from politics, business, and civil society will join and enrich our discussions. A third objective of the course is to train students’ writing and debating skills through several hands-on assignments, including a guided speech-writing exercise, co-organized with the speech-writing service of the EU Commission.


    Global Sustainability Politics - MA Political Science (Research Project), UvA

    This course is designed for students with an interest in global sustainability politics broadly defined. With a focus on (state and non-state) institutions, its main objective is to instruct students to develop and carry out their own research projects. Institutions of relevance to this course include: International environmental regimes (e.g., the global climate regime, the SDGs), Corporate Social Responsibility (e.g., Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan), multi-stakeholder governance (e.g., Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade Labelling Organization), environmental NGOs (Greenpeace, WWF), transnational city networks (e.g., C40 cities), and public-private partnerships (e.g., Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership). In the first part of the course, students will learn about key concepts and perspectives to think about and analyse institutions of environmental governance. Possible research themes include the effectiveness, legitimacy, power dynamics, and increasing complexity of transnational governance. The second part of the course focuses on issues of research design. Step-by-step students will develop their research proposals in preparation of the empirical analysis and the writing-up of their dissertations. In the final part of the course, students will work individually on their projects. In this phase, structured feedback is provided during presentations at workshops and during individual meetings with the course instructor.


    Transnational Regulation, Voluntary Standards, and Trade - Executive Training Seminar, School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute 

    This executive training provides a comprehensive and practical discussion of standard setting in a rapidly changing global regulatory environment. With a focus on transnational trade and production, participants learn about the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules on product standards, and the work of private standard setting bodies such as the International Standardization Organization (ISO). The trainers then focus on the highly dynamic field of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS). Prominent examples are the Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade International, and the Rainforest Alliance. These voluntary initiatives set standards for sustainable production and often operate certification programs to verify compliance in global value chains. Initiated by NGOs, firms, and multi-stakeholder initiatives, the stated goal of VSS is to create win-win situations by reconciling environmental, social, and economic policy objectives. However, the potential of VSS to deliver on these objectives remains uncertain and contested. Particularly, the effectiveness of VSS and their impact on trade and development remains subject to much debate and controversy.

  • Book project

    Governing through Global Value Chains: New Modes of Governance, Agribusiness, and the End of Deforestation

    Tropical deforestation is one of the most pressing environmental problems facing the planet today. Over the last two decades, industrial agriculture has converted millions of hectares of land into soybean fields, cattle ranches, and palm oil plantations. This boom in tropical agriculture has triggered a complex ecological crisis, with far reaching consequences, including biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and global climate change.

    Supported through funding from the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES) and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), my book project examines the effectiveness of new modes of governance in addressing global environmental problems. The book integrates research on transnational governance with global value chain analysis to study the uptake and implementation of sustainability standards in global production networks. Based on over 100 interviews and field work in Indonesia and India, I argue that, in a fast-changing political economy context, transnational business regulation is failing to address some of the most destructive dynamics that characterize the “agriculture-forestry nexus” today.

    As part of the book’s forward-looking research agenda, I identify new pathways to inform future theorizing and policy-making. Drawing lessons from a decade of hybrid governance on biofuels and tropical timber, I explore the potential of the European Union to “orchestrate” more productive public-private interactions in the emerging transnational regime complex. At the sub-state level, I investigate the governance experiments of local governments and civil society actors. Going beyond the top-down logic of global supply chain initiatives, these “jurisdictional initiatives” promise a local, more horizontal, and holistic approach to governing commodity production in the Global South.

  • Publications



    • Fransen, L., Schalk, J., Kok, M., Voora, V., Potts, J., Joosten, M., ... Auld, G. (2018). Biodiversity Protection through Networks of Voluntary Sustainability Standard Organizations? Sustainability, 10(12), [4379]. DOI: 10.3390/su10124379 [details]
    • Fiorini, M., Hoekman, B., Jansen, M., Schleifer, P., Solleder, O., Taimasova, R., & Wozniak, J. (2018). Institutional Design of Voluntary Sustainability Standard Systems: Evidence from a New Database. Development Policy Review. DOI: 10.1111/dpr.12379
    • Schleifer, P., & Sun, Y. (2018). Emerging markets and private governance: the political economy of sustainable palm oil in China and India. Review of International Political Economy. DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2017.1418759
    • Bäckstrand, K., Zelli, F., & Schleifer, P. (2018). The Legitimacy and Accountability in Polycentric Climate Governance. In A. Jordan, D. Huitema, H. van Asselt, & J. Forster (Eds.), Governing Climate Change: Policentricity in Action (pp. 338-356). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/9781108284646.020 [details]


    • Bloomfield, M. J., & Schleifer, P. (2017). Tracing Failure of Coral Reef Protection in Nonstate Market-Driven Governance. Global Environmental Politics, 17(4), 127-146. DOI: 10.1162/GLEP_a_00432 [details]
    • Schleifer, P. (2017). Private regulation and global economic change: The drivers of sustainable agriculture in Brazil. Governance, 30(4), 687–703. DOI: 10.1111/gove.12267 [details]
    • Schleifer, P. (2017). [Review of: R. Cramb, J.F. McCarthy (2016) The Oil Palm Complex: Smallholders, Agribusiness and the State in Indonesia and Malaysia]. Global Environmental Politics, 17(2), 154-156. DOI: 10.1162/GLEP_r_00407 [details]
    • Schleifer, P. (2017). Let’s Bargain! Setting Standards of Sustainable Biofuels. In A. Esguerra, N. Helmerich, & T. Risse (Eds.), Sustainability Politics and Limited Statehood: Contesting the New Modes of Governance (pp. 47-73). (Governance and Limited Statehood). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-39871-6_3 [details]


    • Schleifer, P. (2016). Private Governance Undermined: India and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Global Environmental Politics, 16(1), 38-58. DOI: 10.1162/GLEP_a_00335 [details]


    • Kringler-Vidra, R., & Schleifer, P. (2014). Convergence More or Less: Why Do Practices Vary as They Diffuse? International Studies Review, 16(2), 264–274. DOI: 10.1111/misr.12137


    • Schleifer, P. (2013). Orchestrating sustainability: The case of European Union biofuel governance. Regulation & Governance, 7(4), 533–546. DOI: 10.1111/rego.12037


    • Liese, A., & Schleifer, P. (2012). Internationale Arbeitsorganisation. In K. Freistein, & J. Leininger (Eds.), Handbuch Internationale Organisationen: Theoretische Grundlagen und Akteure (pp. 135-144). Oldenbourg Verlag.


    • Schleifer, P. (2009). How to Make Better Factories? Explaining Variance in Labour Standard Compliance across Asia’s Garment Economies. Grin Verlag.


    • Fiorini, M., Schleifer, P., & Taimasova, R. (2017). Social and Environmental Standards: From Fragmentation to Coordination. Geneva: International Trade Centre. [details]


    • Fiorini, M., Hoekman, B., Jansen, M., Schleifer, P., Solleder, O., Taimasova, R., & Wozniak, J. (2016). Social and Environmental Standards: Contributing to More Sustainable Value Chains. Joint Policy Report. International Trade Centre and the European University Institute.


    • Frankhauser, S., Nachmany, M., Schleifer, P., & et al. (2015). Global Climate Legislation Study (5th edition). Grantham Research Institute.


    • Frankhauser, S., Nachmany, M., Schleifer, P., & et al. (2014). Globe Climate Legislation Study (4th edition). GLOBE International.


    • Hoekman, B., Schleifer, P., Fiorini, M., Fransen, L., & Gjaltema, J. (2018). VSS, Trade and Sustainable Development. In S. Fernandez de Cordoba, & B. Onguglo (Eds.), Voluntary Sustainability Standards, Trade and Sustainable Development: 3rd Flagship Report of the united Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) (pp. 1-37). United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards. [details]




    • Schleifer, P. (2014). Whose rules? The institutional diffusion and variation of private participatory governance


    • Schleifer, P., Fiorini, M., & Auld, G. (2017). Transparency in Transnational Sustainability Governance: A Multivariate Analysis of Regulatory Standard-Setting Programs. EUI Working Papers, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies 2017/16EUI Working Papers, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies 2017/11.


    • Fiorini, M., Hoekman, B., Jansen, M., & Schleifer, P. (2016). Exploring Voluntary Sustainability Standards Using ITC Standards Map: On the Accessibility of Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Suppliers. International Trade Centre Working Paper Series, WP-04-2016.E.


    • Schleifer, P. (2015). Creating Legitimacy for Private Rules: Explaining the Choice of Legitimation Strategies in Transnational Non-State Governance. EUI Working Papers, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies 2015/62.
    • Schleifer, P. (2015). Transnational Sustainability Governance and the Global South: A Comparative Study of Producer Support in Brazil. EUI Working Papers, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies 2015/13.
    • Bloomfield, M., & Schleifer, P. (2015). When Institutions Fail: Legitimacy, (De)legitimation and the Failure of Private Governance Systems. EUI Working Papers, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies 2015/36.


    • Schleifer, P. (2014). Let’s Bargain! Setting Standards for Sustainable Biofuels. (pp. 21). (EUI working paper. Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies research paper ; No. 2014/124). San Domenico di Fiesole: European University Institute. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2539529


    • Schleifer, P. (2010). Only Strategic Action? Private Governance in the Global Sportswear Industry. Papers on International Political Economy, Center for International Political Economy, Free University Berlin.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities