I am an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department of the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Scarborough. I'm also an Affiliated Faculty member of the Environmental Governance Lab, and a Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance project.

My research focuses on global environmental governance and political economy. The goal of my research is to understand the development, functioning and impacts of transnational private sustainability governance of corporate activities and its interactions with public policy and governance, both internationally and comparatively. My work includes studies on the political economy of public regulatory interventions in transnational private governance; the impacts of private governance on the development of public policy; the political-economic power of private audit firms and assessors; and the political-economic origins and development of private governance. To study these topics, I employ comparative case study research, social network analysis, and statistical analysis. My research covers multiple areas in environmental and natural resources governance, including fisheries, sustainable finance, climate change, fair trade, renewable energy, electronic waste, and organic agriculture.


Book Awards

My book, Private Governance and Public Authority. Regulating Sustainability in a Global Economy (2020, Cambridge University Press), was awarded the 2021 Best Book Prize in International Relations by the Canadian Political Science Association.

The book also received an Honorable Mention from the International Political Economy Best Book Award Committee of the International Studies Association, 2022.

Renckens, Stefan. 2020. Private Governance and Public Authority. Regulating Sustainability in a Global Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

At a time of significant concerns about the sustainability of the global economy, businesses are eager to display their responsible corporate practices. While rulemaking for these practices was once the prerogative of states, businesses and civil society actors are increasingly engaged in creating private rulemaking instruments, such as eco-labeling and certification schemes, to govern corporate behavior. When does a public authority intervene in such private governance and reassert the primacy of public policy? Private Governance and Public Authority develops a new theory of public-private regulatory interactions and argues that when and how a public authority intervenes in private governance depends on the economic benefits to domestic producers that such intervention generates and the degree of fragmentation of private governance schemes. Drawing on European Union policymaking on organic agriculture, biofuels, fisheries, and fair trade, the book exposes the political-economic conflicts between private and public rule makers and the strategic nature of regulating sustainability in a global economy.

"an exceptionally well researched book that [...] offers an elegantly stated and highly original theoretical argument combined with careful and detailed empirical work.”

IPE Best Book Award Committee - International Studies Association

"This book demonstrates why Stefan Renckens has quickly become one of the significant scholars in the arena of global governance. [...] He includes a novel treatment of private governance systems as actors that lobby for their own interests. [...] This book deepens our understanding of the relationship between private and public governance in global markets."

Virginia Haufler - Associate Professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland


Webinar organized by the Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven, Belgium, December 10, 2020


Renckens, Stefan, Kristen Pue, and Amy Janzwood. 2022. “Transnational Private Environmental Rule Makers as Interest Organizations: Evidence from the European Union” Global Environmental Politics (Online First).

Renckens, Stefan and Graeme Auld. 2022. Time to certify: Explaining Varying Efficiency of Private Regulatory Audits. Regulation & Governance 16(2): 500-518.

Special Issue on "Private Authority and Public Policy Interactions in Global Context" in Regulation and Governance, edited by Benjamin Cashore, Jette Steen Knudsen, Jeremy Moon & Hamish van der Ven

My article contribution: Renckens, Stefan. 2021. Disaggregating Public-Private Governance Interactions: European Union Interventions in Transnational Private Sustainability Governance. Regulation & Governance 15(4): 1230-1247.

Video introduction to the article:

Auld, Graeme and Stefan Renckens. 2021. Private Sustainability Governance, the Global South and COVID-19: Are Changes to Audit Policies in Light of the Pandemic Exacerbating Existing Inequalities? World Development 139(105314): 1-10.

See also: Auld, Graeme and Stefan Renckens. 2020. “Why Eco-Labelling is So Difficult during the COVID-19 Pandemic” The Conversation, December 21, 2020.

New Special Issue on "Sustainable Commodity Governance and the Global South" in Ecological Economics, edited by Hamish van der Ven, Yixian Sun and Benjamin Cashore

My article contribution: Renckens, Stefan and Graeme Auld. 2019. Structure, Path Dependence, and Adaptation: North-South Imbalances in Transnational Private Fisheries Governance. Ecological Economics 166(106422).

Renckens, Stefan. 2020. The Instrumental Power of Transnational Private Governance: Interest Representation and Lobbying by Private Rule-Makers. Governance 33(3): 657-674