Digital sustainability assurance governing global value chains: The case of aquaculture

Sake R.L. Kruk*, Hilde M. Toonen, Simon R. Bush

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sustainability risks in aquaculture are increasingly addressed through forms of assurance that rely on the use of digital technologies. By bringing in new actors and informational processes, these forms of digital sustainability assurance challenge existing notions of how global value chains are governed. Based on in-depth interviews with experts, we find that the growing use of digital technologies to mediate assurance is shaped by the digital codification of informational processes designed to support sustainability, which in turn increases the complexity of sustainability claims and changes the capabilities needed by value chain actors to comply. Furthermore, we find that digital sustainability assurance represents a new form of value chain coordination by a new set of extra-transactional “digital lead actors.” As these lead actors become more prominent, their control over digital data flows constitutes a new form of value chain governance with the potential to have greater impact on steering toward sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRegulation and Governance
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2023


  • aquaculture
  • digitalization
  • global value chains
  • sustainability assurance
  • value chain governance


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