IRPA Working Papers

IRPA Working Paper No 2013/5 by Rebecca Schmidt


The ISO 26000 Process as a Model for Public-Private Cooperation in a Fragmented Transnational Regulatory Space



The following paper looks at transnational regulatory cooperation between public international organizations and private regulatory entities. The argument advanced is that regulators cooperate because in the undefined global space with an unclear and often inexistent hierarchical framework it is necessary to convey sufficient authority to achieve compliance with a regulatory agenda. In order to acquire or maintain such authority regulators need to be perceived as legitimate, and their regulation as effective. The theoretical framework will be illustrated by a case study – the ISO 26000 standard setting process – which provides an example of public private cooperation in a decentralized transnational setting. When deciding to create a standard for social responsibility the International Standardization Organization concluded cooperation agreements with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the UN Global Compact. These public organizations were granted particular participatory rights in the process, which exceeded those of the numerous other stakeholders involved. The goal pursued by this cooperation was seen as important to augment regulatory authority of the regime through policy coherence. This was to be achieved by increasing the number of voices conveying a consistent message to global business regarding its obligations of social responsibility.

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Rebecca Schmidt is PhD Candidate at the European University Institute.