In recent years, transnational and domestic nongovernmental organiza- tions have created non-state market-driven (NSMD) governance systems whose purpose is to develop and implement environmentally and socially responsible management practices. Eschewing traditional state authority, these systems and their supporters have turned to the market’s supply chain to create incentives and force companies to comply.

This paper develops an analytical framework designed to understand better the emergence of NSMD governance systems and the conditions under which they may gain authority to create policy. Its theoretical roots draw on pragmatic, moral, and cognitive legitimacy granting distinctions made within organizational sociology, while its empirical focus is on the case of sustainable forestry certification, arguably the most advanced case of NSMD governance globally. The paper argues that such a framework is needed to assess whether these new private governance systems might ulti- mately challenge existing state-centered authority and public policy- making processes, and in so doing reshape power relations within domestic and global environmental governance.