This study aims to understand, through the example of Cameroon, why industrial logging companies adopt or avoid sustainable certification or labelling systems of their forest operations in the Congo Basin region. From a methodological standpoint, the research is based on a sample of three empirical case studies of logging companies operating in Cameroon: an ‘anti-certification’ company (the model, due to the majority trend of non-certified logging companies in this region), a company in the process of certification (the intermediate case), and a certified company (the marginal case, due to the scarcity of certified companies in the study area). While focusing on these three cases, we chose to avoid reifying the dominant case of anti-certification companies. Hence the choice of highlighting this majority trend by carrying out a comparative study with an intermediate and a marginal case. The analysis of these three case studies reveals that the high cost of long term certification, the risks of patronage and cronyism in Patron-Client (customer-provider/boss) relationships that feature sustainable labelling processes are the main reasons for the low level of commitment of logging companies to forest certification in Cameroon. At the end of the research, we recommend that other complementary and more specific research should focus on the flaws in patron-client relationships that characterize forest certification processes on the one hand, and on the necessary conditions to avoid patronage and cronyisms risks or excesses in these relations on the other hand, especially in a poor governance context like Cameroon. Similarly, we encourage that new research be carried out to better understand whether and how transaction and opportunity costs influence the decisions of industrial logging companies in favour of or against forest certification.
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Vol. 21 • No. 3