Private actors have become prominent players in the work to drive social and environmental sustainability transitions. In the fisheries sector, fishery improvement projects (FIPs) aim to address environmental challenges by leveraging the capacity of industry actors and using value chains to incentivize change. Despite globally rising FIP numbers, the incentive structures behind FIP establishment and the role of internal dynamics remain poorly understood. This paper uses institutional entrepreneurship as an analytical lens to examine the institutional change surrounding the management and trade of the Indonesian blue swimming crab and sheds light on how global market dynamics, local fishery dynamics, and value chain initiatives interact to affect the trajectory towards sustainability over time. We contribute to the institutional entrepreneurship framework by extending it with social-ecological dynamics, different actors’ ability to realize or resist change, and outcomes of institutional change. These additions can improve its explanatory power in relation to sustainability initiatives in fisheries governance and beyond. Our cross-scale historical analysis of the value chain shows not only the entrepreneurship behind the FIP’s establishment, and its institutional interventions, but also why these have been unsuccessful in improving the ecological sustainability of fishers’ and traders’ behavior. This provides valuable empirical grounding to a wider debate about industry leadership and private incentives for sustainability at large and helps disentangle under what conditions such initiatives are more (or less) likely to have intended effects.
Citation: Käll, S., B. Crona, T. Van Holt and T. Daw 2022 Maritime Studies 1:1–21.