This article aims to generate insights into both private governance and partnerships within the shipping industry, but also tries to improve understanding of the complex process of institutionalisation. This is achieved through acase study of the Clean Shipping Project, a public/private partnership that aims to promote sustainability in the shipping industry. A set of enabling and constraining factors are examined that shape the institutionalisation process and determine to what extent the Clean Shipping Project can establish and expand authority as an industry norm. Overall, the Clean Shipping Project cannot yet be considered a full-fledged private governance institution, because of an insufficient level of collaborative advantage mainly due to weak system robustness and unfavourable market characteristics and conditions. However, institutionalisation is an ongoing process and the future outlook for the Clean Shipping Project remains promising. The Clean Shipping Project is certainly a relevant supplement to existing regulations and there is a basic level of commitment and cohesion within the partnership, so it is not unlikely that in the future this initiative may help to uncouple growth in shipping activities from environmental harm.