Recursivity by Organizational Design: The Case of the Forest Stewardship Council
This article examines recursive processes in the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a nonstate forest standard-setting and accreditation organization. The FSC has developed numerous organizational structures and procedures that help it pool and analyze stakeholder input and feedback in standard-setting and implementation. We conceptualize recursive processes of stakeholder input and feedback and organizational responsiveness as recursivity by design. The article focuses on organizational legitimacy as a driver of recursive processes. The FSC's extensive participation procedures and structures present opportunities for incorporating stakeholder input and feedback in standard-setting and make it a responsive, legitimate, and effective governance scheme. It also enables the FSC to deal with challenges to its legitimacy and effectiveness. Whereas challenges associated with stakeholder participation and on-the-ground standard implementation are conceptualized in the literature as sources of organizational fragility and crisis, we argue that FSC's recursive structures help it accommodate criticism of and information about its performance and adjust its system to continuously emerging demands for more credibility and quality.