Kristin L. Sippl - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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Kristin L. Sippl

Post-Doctoral Fellow of Business Administration

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets

Kristin Sippl is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Negotiations, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. She studies how people and organizations make pro-social decisions in the realms of ethical consumption and environmental sustainability governance. Projects explore the diffusion of fair trade and eco-labeling programs (voluntary sustainability standards) to non-traditional sectors, such as luxury and illicit goods; the determinants of effective activism; the evolution of social enterprises; and conceptions of ethical cannabis. She has particular expertise on the link between mercury pollution and gold mining. Kristin earned her Phd in Political Science from Boston University in 2016 and was previously a business analyst at Target Corporation. She now co-directs the Boston branch of non-profit Civic Series.​
Articles
  1. From Blood Diamonds to Dirty Gold: How to Buy Gold Less Tainted by Mercury

    Kristin Sippl

    This is a quick and easy news article on the link between poverty, mercury pollution, and gold mining. It explains the problems in the jewelry industry as well as public and civil society attempts to address them.

    Keywords: Mining; Pollution and Pollutants; Poverty; Social Issues;

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "From Blood Diamonds to Dirty Gold: How to Buy Gold Less Tainted by Mercury." The Conversation (December 22, 2015).  View Details
  2. Private and Civil Society Governors of Mercury Pollution from Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining: A Network Analytic Approach

    Kristin Sippl

    Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is both a subsistence livelihood for millions of people and the leading source of mercury pollution globally. The United Nation’s 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury aims to address this challenge, but such public regulatory initiatives often struggle with effectiveness. This article explores what private and civil society actors can do to support or complement the Minamata Convention and reform ASGM more generally. Accordingly, it asks three questions: which private and civil society actors are advocating for improved governance of mercury and gold, what methods are they using, and what further research is needed to understand their current and potential governance contributions? To answer these questions, the article uses a transnational advocacy network framework to analyze original data compiled via hyperlink analysis, reviews of regulatory texts, and attendance at the Minamata Convention negotiations. The article finds significant differences between the types of actors comprising each advocacy network, and provides case studies of the leading private and civil actors that lobby, partner with, and bypass public actors to achieve their advocacy goals. Acknowledging the difficulty of governing global supply chains, the paper concludes by identifying four areas of future research needed to help governors achieve their potential.

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "Private and Civil Society Governors of Mercury Pollution from Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining: A Network Analytic Approach." Extractive Industries and Society 2, no. 2 (April 2015): 198–208.  View Details
  3. Global Policy for Local Livelihoods: Phasing Out Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

    Kristin Sippl and Henrik Selin

    This article uses a behavioral economics lens to identify the challenges the United Nation's Minamata Convention is likely to face in addressing the problem of mercury pollution from gold mining.

    Keywords: Mining; Pollution and Pollutants; Problems and Challenges; Policy; Global Range;

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin, and Henrik Selin. "Global Policy for Local Livelihoods: Phasing Out Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining." Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 54, no. 3 (2012): 18–29.  View Details
  4. Review of "Constructing Private Governance: The Rise and Evolution of Forest, Coffee, and Fisheries Certification" by Graeme Auld. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (2014). 352 pages. ISBN: 9780300190533, $30.00 paperback.

    Kristin Sippl

    This article reviews Auld's use of historical and rational-choice institutionalism to explain the proliferation of certification programs in the coffee, fisheries, and forestry sectors.
  5. Perfect Pitch: Making Your Ideas Resonate in Negotiations

    Kristin Sippl

    To maximize persuasive power, ideational entrepreneurs should craft a 'creative type' persona, use discourse strategically, and offer useful resources.

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "Perfect Pitch: Making Your Ideas Resonate in Negotiations." Negotiation Briefings (Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School) (April 2017).  View Details
Working Papers
  1. Golden Opportunity? Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

    Kristin Sippl

    While much is known about transnational climate governance, less is known about transnationalism's contributions to the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This paper helps balance the literature via comparative analysis of the potential contributions of two voluntary sustainability certification programs for artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM): Fairtrade International and the Alliance for Responsible Mining. Assessment of four necessary conditions for SDG contributions (goal alignment, rule strength, uptake patterns, indirect effects) suggest weak contributions to date. First, only the weakest versions of standards are being adopted, and only by miners above the poverty line prior to certification. Second, adoption levels are low, and rates of decertification almost as high as certification. Third, awareness raising among consumers and partnerships with public actors are equally weak. Yet programs do align well with the SDGs and have potential. To improve, programs should consider uniting, becoming more “producer-friendly,” and consider the role within ASGM governance systems they are best suited to play (which may be none at all). Findings contribute to debates on the merits of increasing governance fragmentation and the role of political consumption in global problem solving. The ASGM case provides lessons about the diffusion of certification to new sectors, with the aim of guiding global resources towards their most efficient and effective ends.

    Keywords: sustainability standards; gold; certification; eco-labeling; international law; luxury; extractive industries;

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "Golden Opportunity? Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 19-024, September 2018. (Revise and Resubmit.)  View Details
  2. Hot or Not? What Makes Product Categories Attractive to Fair Trade and Eco-labeling Organizations

    Kristin Sippl

    This paper probes extant theory on product diversification in the empirical realm of fair trade and eco-labeling organizations (i.e., certification organizations). While much is known about diversification in for-profit firms, less is known about the more complex choices faced by hybrid organizations that balance social and economic objectives and curate symbolic, values-based portfolios. By process-tracing original interview data from three leading certification organizations, the paper finds that certification organizations prefer to diversify into product categories with three features: high levels of fit with the organization’s current clients, campaigns, and strategies; appealing market features, defined as highly integrated, predictable, low-risk supply chains and non-luxury status; and skillful activists who deploy discourse and resources strategically. Organizational fit and market features often drive decisions, but a product lacking these can still become certified if the product activist is skillful enough. The data did not fully support hypotheses on the primacy of exogenous opportunity structures and consumer values in diversification decisions. The findings contribute to the broader literatures on institutional entrepreneurship, market categories, and social movements. They also help activists and managers appraising this business and policy tool understand its potential and limits, guiding certification’s trajectory towards the markets its best suited to serve.

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "Hot or Not? What Makes Product Categories Attractive to Fair Trade and Eco-labeling Organizations." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 19-023, September 2018. (Submitted for Review.)  View Details
  3. Southern Responses to Gold Certification: Compete, Align, or Exit

    Kristin Sippl

    Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is a subsistence livelihood in the global South posing both challenges and opportunities for sustainable development. In 2011, Fairtrade International launched voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) to address the low wages and pollution associated with the sector. Southern actors have responded in three ways: Colombian NGO the Alliance for Responsible Mining launched two competing VSS; retailers chose to sell jewelry under the Southern Alliance’s program instead of Northern Fairtrade’s; and miners prefer the Alliance over Fairtrade, but are in some cases exiting both VSS altogether. Using original data, this paper explains the roles that resources, interests, and ideas played in these actors’ decisions. It finds that different beliefs about the best sourcing models, production methods, and prices of certified gold drove the rise of the Alliance as a competing VSS. Southern producers believe the Alliance’s rules align better with their interests, and the Alliance specifically recruited Southern retailers whereas Fairtrade recruited elsewhere. Yet Southern producers often exit both programs due to low financial rewards relative to compliance costs, misalignment with interests and lack of trust in programs promises. Overall, the paper helps balance the VSS literature by providing the Southern side of the governance story through an understudied sector case.

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "Southern Responses to Gold Certification: Compete, Align, or Exit." Working Paper, September 2018. (To be Submitted for Review as part of Special Issue in October 2018.)  View Details
  4. Ethical Hedonism? How Consumers' Prosocial Behavior Varies Along the Utilitarian-Hedonic Product Spectrum: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

    Kristin Sippl

    The marketing literature classifies products along a spectrum from utilitarian (e.g. rice) to hedonic (e.g. cannabis), and additionally using terms such as “luxury” and “illicit.” Research in business ethics has proposed a counter-intuitive mismatch between ethics and luxury, which has not yet been rigorously tested. This paper fills that gap by using a representative sample of roughly 2,000 consumers to conduct a survey experiment exploring consumers’ (potentially) divergent prosocial behavior in the face of varying product types. The findings will help activists, business leaders, and governments make efficient, effective decisions regarding their approach to the sustainability challenges posed by the luxury sector.

    Keywords: Ethics; Luxury; Consumer Behavior; Environmental Sustainability;

  5. Conceptions of Ethics in the Cannabis Industry: The Case of Boston, MA

    Kristin Sippl

    Work in progress exploring the consumer demand for and conceptualizations of social, economic, and environmental ethics in the emerging cannabis industry, and the private sector’s and civil society’s response. Draws on interviews and fieldwork from Portland, OR, Denver, CO, and (primarily) Boston, MA. Project will likely involve hiring of research assistants to help with Boston-based fieldwork, and is unfolding in close partnership with Elizabeth Bennett and other leading scholars in this subject area.

    Keywords: cannabis industry; Ethics; Demand and Consumers; Boston;

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "Conceptions of Ethics in the Cannabis Industry: The Case of Boston, MA." Working Paper, September 2018. (Work in Progress.)  View Details
Book Project
  1. Ethical Hedonism: How to Bring Ethics Home by Shopping for a Wildly Thriving Life

    Kristin Sippl

    This book project updates the existing political consumption literature by providing overviews of the ethical options available in non-traditional but highly desired product categories currently ignored by mainstream research. The book takes the form of a self-help guide that walks the reader through the various stages of life and the ethical consumption options faced in each. The college years may focus on coffee, clothes, technological devices and school choices; young professional years on green jobs, yoga classes, wine, cannabis, and wedding paraphernalia; mid-life on houses, pets, sex toys and baby products; retirement on ethical travel. The project is still in the earliest possible phases. Meetings with publishers for feedback are scheduled.

    Keywords: Ethics; Spending; Consumer Behavior; Age; Luxury;

    Citation:

    Sippl, Kristin. "Ethical Hedonism: How to Bring Ethics Home by Shopping for a Wildly Thriving Life." Working Paper, September 2018. (Draft Book Proposal.)  View Details