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Dr. P. (Philip) Schleifer

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Political Economy and Transnational Governance
Photographer: Dirk Gillissen

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

    Philip Schleifer is Associate Professor of Transnational Governance at the Political Science Department at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Previously to his appointment at the 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 Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

    Areas of specialization

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

    Philip's resarch agenda focuses on the politics and institutional dimensions of transnational governance, with a focus on sustainable development, trade, and production. His past and present projects investigate the effectiveness and transparency of voluntary standards in global value chains, the design of hybrid governance in the European Union, and the political economy of natural resource governance 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, Globalizations, and Development Policy Review.

    At UvA, Philip sits on the management board of the Political Economy and Transnational Governance (PETGOV) program group. He is an associate of the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES), a research fellow of the Earth System Governance Project (ESG), and a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS). His other activities include advisory and policy work for international organizations, civil society organizations, and governments. This includes the International Trade Centre,  the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance, and the Dutch Government.

  • Teaching


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

    In light of gridlock in many intergovernmental forums, transnational actors (e.g. INGOs, multinational corporations, and city networks) play increasingly important roles in global governance. Long viewed by mainstream international relations (IR) scholars as too insignificant to be studied, today a wide array of non-state actors engage in transborder activism, regulatory standard-setting, and the provision of collective goods and services in areas where the state is unwilling or unable to do so. This “transnational turn” has greatly increased the complexity of world politics, raising fundamental questions about the nature of global governance in the twenty-first century. This course introduces students to this diverse and dynamic field of study. It is structured in three parts: In the first part, 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 modes of governance. Moreover, we will consider the promise and perils of “governance without government” and consider its implications for power, legitimacy, and effectiveness. In the second part, the course introduces students to key actors and issues in this emerging field of study. Case studies are drawn from three policy areas in which transnational governance is now well-established: Human and social rights, development, and sustainability. In the third part of the course, we will consider the resulting institutional complexity in global governance and ask how it can be managed: Is the rise of transnational actors leading to even more fragmentation in world politics or does it provide a pathway beyond gridlock?


    Rethinking Governance: New Solutions for Our Hot and Crowded Planet - MA Political Science (Research Project), UvA

    How to use technology to clean our oceans from plastics pollution? Can multinational corporations employ their market power to stop tropical deforestation? Are public-private partnerships the right instrument to fight health emergencies in developing countries? This research project is designed for students with an interest in the transnational governance of sustainability and development in a rapidly changing global context. In light of gridlock in many intergovernmental forums, a great variety of new modes of governance has emerged to address the multitude of sustainability and developmental challenges facing our hot and crowded planet. What are the origins, forms, and consequences of these arrangements? Are they effective and legitimate? Who controls them and whose interests do they really serve? In international relations, public policy, and international political economy, these and other questions have given rise to a vibrant and diverse research agenda. Among other topics, students taking this MARP have studied the design of transnational regime complexes, the effectiveness of corporate codes of conduct, the strategies of transnational advocacy campaigns, the legitimacy of multi-stakeholder initiatives, and power relationships within transnational municipal networks. The projects supervised in this course are problem-oriented, theory-driven, and have a strong empirical-analytical focus. The instructor has a background and preference for qualitative case methodologies.  


    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.

  • Policy

    Linking Voluntary Standards to Sustainable Development Goals

    International Trade Centre, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, University of Amsterdam, German Development Institute, European University Institute

    With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations has called on the private sector to contribute more to achieving the sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This report helps decision makers in the public and private sectors to understand where voluntary sustainability standards are best placed to contribute. It maps the linkages between these standards and each SDG goal, including its specific targets.


    3rd UNFSS Flagship Report 

    United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards

    The 3rd Flagship Report of the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) examines the impact of voluntary sustainality standards (VSS) on sustainable development, trade opportunities, and market access in developing countries. 


    The Global Climate Legislation Study

    Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE

    The study covers national laws and policies directly related to climate change mitigation and adaptation, passed before 1stJanuary 2015. It covers 33 developed and 66 developing countries; 32 Annex-I and 67 non-Annex-I countries. Taken together, the study countries produce 93 per cent of world emissions, including 46 of the world’s top 50 emitters. They are home to 90 per cent of the world’s forests. 


    Social and Environmental Standards - From Fragmentation to Coordination 

    International Trade Centre

    This report  is the second of a series that goes from identifying social and environmental standards to outlining markets that are most fragmented. It offers recommendations for coordination for standard-setting organizations and policymakers.


    Social and Environmental Standards - Contributing to More Sustainable Value Chains 

    International Trade Centre

    The increase in consumer demand for sustainable trade has given rise to a growing array of social and environmental standards. This report shows that such standards can be made more accessible to producers through cost-sharing, technical assistance and transparency and how country-level characteristics affect the presence and adoption of standards.

  • Publications



    • Fiorini, M., Hoekman, B., Jansen, M., Schleifer, P., Solleder, O., Taimasova, R., & Wozniak, J. (2019). Institutional Design of Voluntary Sustainability Standard Systems: Evidence from a New Database. Development Policy Review, 37(S2), O193-O212. [details]
    • Schleifer, P. (2019). Varieties of multi-stakeholder governance: selecting legitimation strategies in transnational sustainability politics. Globalizations, 16(1), 50-66. [details]
    • Schleifer, P., Fiorini, M., & Auld, G. (2019). Transparency in Transnational Governance: The Determinants of Information Disclosure of Voluntary Sustainability Programs. Regulation & Governance, 13(4), 488-506. [details]
    • Schleifer, P., Fiorini, M., & Fransen, L. (2019). Missing the Bigger Picture: A Population-level Analysis of Transnational Private Governance Organizations Active in the Global South. Ecological Economics, 164, [106362]. [details]


    • 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. [details]
    • 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]. [details]
    • 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, 25(2), 190-214. [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.


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


    • 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., Schleifer, P., Solleder, O., Taimasova, R., Jansen, M., Wozniak, J., & Hoekman, B. M. (2016). Social and Environmental Standards: Contributing to More Sustainable Value Chains. Geneva: International Trade Centre. [details]


    • 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; No. RSCAS 2017/16). Badia Fiesolana: Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute. [details]


    • Fiorini, M., Hoekman, B., Jansen, M., Schleifer, P., Solleder, O., Taimasova, R., & Wozniak, J. (2016). Exploring Voluntary Sustainability Standards Using ITC Standards Map: On the Accessibility of Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Suppliers. (ITC Working Paper Series; No. WP-04-2016.E). International Trade Centre. [details]


    • 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. (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.


    • 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.


    • 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