skip to content

Completed projects and publications

DFG-funded project: The impact of institutional conventions on product quality management in global supply chains. The example of organic food imports in Germany and Australia (ImPOrt) (funding period: 2010-2012)

Product safety, quality control and transparency in cross-border trade along the supply chain are becoming increasingly important issues, especially as chains become longer, more international and more anonymous. The trade of organic food, a highly sensitive product group, currently sees the special situation that demand exceeds local supply in many highly developed countries. The necessity for imports thus increases while competition for the resources available is growing.

The aim of this project is to analyse and compare different quality coordination mechanisms in cross-border trade by the cases of German and Australian importers of organics. It recognises their direct interaction with suppliers abroad, as well as their involvement with other stakeholders which help them to assure product quality and flow. A focus lies on analysing the influence of respective national and international institutional conventions into which the importers are embedded, while looking not only at ‘formal’ institutions such as import regulations or organic standards, but also at 'informal’ institutions such as norms and values, trust, product image or communication flows. It is postulated that changes of institutions over time also have an impact on quality coordination mechanisms within the supply chain. On a practical level, results can provide efficient strategies to help find sustainable and ’safe’ solutions to meeting local demand through imports under different national (institutional) circumstances.

Contact person: Amelie Bernzen

Project-related publications:

Bernzen, A. (2013): Ökologische Landwirtschaft und Ernährungssicherheit. Geographische Rundschau 65(12), 54-57.

Bernzen, A. & B. Braun (forthcoming): Conventions in cross-border trade coordination. The case of organic food imports to Germany and Australia. Environment and Planning A.

Bernzen, A. (2013): Staatliche Regulierung von Bio-Standards – Fluch oder Segen für Handel und Vermarktung? Ein deutsch-australischer Vergleich. In: FRANZ, M. (ed.): Liefernetzwerke im Einzelhandel. Reihe Geographische Handelsforschung 18. Mannheim (Metagis Verlag): 37-60.

Bernzen, A. & B. Pritchard (2012): Australien als Global Food Superpower? Landwirtschaft und Lebensmittelsektor Australiens im Wandel. Geographische Rundschau63(10), 20-28.

Bernzen, A. (2012): Organic Standards and Global Value Chain Governance: The EU and Australian Situation Compared. In: FARMAR-BOWERS, Q., HIGGINS, V. and J. MILLAR (eds.): Food Security in Australia. New York (Springer): 281-296.

Bernzen, A. & P. Dannenberg (2012): Ein "Visum" für Obst. Umwelt- und Sozialstandards im internationalen Lebensmittelhandel. Geographische Rundschau 64(3), 44-52.


Poverty Reduction through Social Business?

Since Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus first began launching joint ventures with multinational corporations such as Group Danone (2006) and Veolia Water (2008) in Bangladesh, his social business concept has received international attention. What is a social business and how can it contribute to poverty reduction? Using the example of Bangladesh, this book systematically explores Yunus’ theoretical propositions in relation to relevant development policy contexts. Two case studies then investigate Grameen Danone’s and Grameen Veolia’s challenges in their business operations, mitigation strategies, and livelihood outcomes for the poor. While Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. aims to fight child malnutrition by selling fortified yoghurt, Grameen Veolia Water Ltd. provides rural communities with treated river water in arsenic-affected areas. As this is the first comprehensive empirical study of Yunus’ pioneering experiments in his home country, this book provides exciting first-hand insights for academics, development practitioners, and social entrepreneurs alike.

Contact Person: Kerstin Humberg

Project-related publications:

Humberg, K. & B. Braun (2011), Social business as a new route towards poverty reduction: experiences form Grameen joint ventures in rural Bangladesh. Journal of Social Business 1 (4), 4-35.

Humberg, K. (2011): Poverty Reduction through Social Business? Lessons learnt from Grameen Joint Ventures in Bangladesh. München: Oekom.


"Forschungsverbund Transnationale Netze" FORTRANS : Intercultural risk management of societal demands in transnational networks

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an increasingly vital role in the process of economic globalisation. The outsourcing of labour-intensive, and at the same time often environmentally damaging, manufacturing processes takes place through the establishment of subsidiaries or supplier relations. The strict environmental standards in the target market, i.e. Germany, contrast with the frequently poor environmental performance in the producing countries. In this situation, the German SMEs are confronted with the demands of civil society organizations that represent environmental interests. The project examines transnational commodity chains of shrimp and leather products. Using case studies from India, Bangladesh and Germany, the study analyses network relations between SMEs and their "green stakeholders”. For this purpose, an interdisciplinary approach based on stakeholder and network theories is used. The project is part of the Research Association "fortrans” (

Project-related publications:

Dietsche, Christian (2011), Umweltgovernance in globalen Wertschöpfungsketten. Umweltschutz und Qualitätssicherung im Handel mit tropischen Garnelen und Ledererzeugnissen Lit Verlag Münster

Braun, B. (2010), Welthandel und Umwelt: Konzepte, Befunde und Probleme. Geographische Rundschau 62 (4), 4-11.

Jaiswal, R. & B. Braun (2010), „Unbemerkte“ Verschmutzungsoasen der Weltwirtschaft – das Beispiel   der Chromsulfat-Produktion in Nordindien. Geographische Rundschau 62 (4), 54-55.

Braun, B. & C. Dietsche  (2009), Risiken des Fremdbezugs aus Indien. Das Beispiel der Leder­warenindustrie. Industrie Management 25 (6), 59-62.

Braun, B. & C. Dietsche  (2009), Unternehmensnetzwerke und Stakeholderansprüche im Handel mit Entwicklungsländern. In: Kühlmann, T. & H.-D. Haas (eds.): Internationales Risikomanagement –  Auslandserfolg durch grenzüberschreitende Netzwerke. München: Oldenbourg, 247-276.

Dietsche, C. & B. Braun (2008), Changing the chains: Bangladeshi shrimps, consumer preferences and environmental issues in international trade relations. The Journal of Geo-Environment 8, 1-13.

Braun, B. & C. Dietsche  (2008), Indisches Leder für den Weltmarkt. Umweltprobleme und Standards in globalen Wertschöpfungsketten. Geographische Rundschau 60 (9), 12-19.


DFG-funded project: Urban environmental quality as a result of bargaining - industrial firms as agents of environmental governance in India and Bangladesh (funding period: 2008-2010)

This research focuses on the role of industrial agents in urban environmental governance. Interests, strategies and de facto influence of industrial firms on environmental governance in developing countries will be analysed. The focus will be on industrial cities in India and Bangladesh, which suffer from severe environmental pollution. One questions will be, how those cities are able to implement environmental laws/standards without endangering their economic basis. The project aims at a better understanding of the relation of entrepreneurial and civic governance in terms of environment protection.

Contact Person: Nicole Reps

Project-related publications:

Reps, N. & B. Braun (2012), Going Green. Ökologische Aufwertungsprozesse und Koordinations­strukturen in den Wertschöpfungsketten der indischen Kraftfahrzeugindustrie. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 56 (4), in print


Natural hazards and climate change in Dhaka: future trends, social adaptation and informal dynamics

Many megacities in the world, including Dhaka, are regularly threatened by natural hazards. Risks associated with floods and cyclones in particular are expected to increase in the years to come because of the impacts of global climate change and rapid urbanization. In Greater Dhaka the sprawl of slums and informal settlements is primarily taking place in wetlands, swamps and other high-risk areas, with little attempt being made to limit the environmental impairments. An increase of precipitation extremes and tropical cyclones, together with a growing vulnerability of the urban population puts considerable stress on the adaptability and resilience of the social and economic system. In the past, Dhaka has shown an impressive overall adaptability to external shocks. Our project will analyze the factors behind this relative 'stability'. Another major objective of our research is to link models on future climate change and weather extremes to analyses of informal social and economic adaptation strategies on a micro-level. To achieve these objectives, our project applies different methodologies that are nevertheless closely related to each other: meteorological modeling as well as micro-level social and economic field research.

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Boris Braun

Project-related publications:

Aßheuer, T. & B. Braun (2011), Adaptionsfähigkeit lokaler Ökonomien an den Klimawandel – eine institutionelle Analyse der Ziegelproduktion in Dhaka/Bangladesch.Berichte zur deutschen Landeskunde 85 (3), 293-307.

Braun, B. (2011), Risikoraum Dhaka. Stadtbauwelt 192, 30-35.

Braun, B. & T. Aßheuer (2011), Floods in megacity environments: vulnerability and coping strategies of slum dwellers in Dhaka/Bangladesh. Natural Hazards 58 (2), 771-787.

Braun, B. (2009), Naturgefahren anderswo – Bangladesch. Die Schäden der Überschwemmungen in Bangladesch. In: Musil, R.& Ch. Staudacher, eds., Mensch.Raum.Umwelt. Entwicklungen und Perspektiven der Geographie in Österreich. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft, 150-151.

Braun, B. & A.Z.M. Shoeb (2008), Naturrisiken und Sozialkatastrophen in Bangladesch – Wirbelstürme und Überschwemmungen. In: Felgentreff, C. & T. Glade, eds.,Naturrisiken und Sozialkatastrophen. Berlin, Heidelberg: Spektrum, 381-393.