Transnational Business Governance Interactions
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Transnational Business Governance Interactions

Advancing Marginalized Actors and Enhancing Regulatory Quality

Edited by Stepan Wood, Rebecca Schmidt, Errol Meidinger, Burkard Eberlein and Kenneth W. Abbott

From agriculture to sport and from climate change to indigenous rights, transnational regulatory regimes and actors are multiplying and interacting with poorly understood effects. This interdisciplinary book investigates whether, how and by whom transnational business governance interactions (TBGIs) can be harnessed to improve the quality of transnational regulation and advance the interests of marginalized actors.
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Chapter 16: Interactive strategies for advancing marginalized actors in transnational governance contests: Labour and the making of ISO 26000

Stepan Wood


This chapter explores the role of organized labour in drafting the ISO 26000 guidance standard on social responsibility (SR) as a case study of the circumstances in which marginalized actors can take advantage of transnational business governance interactions (TBGIs) to achieve regulatory outcomes that advance their interests. Organized labour was vastly outnumbered in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), yet it achieved remarkably strong labour standards in ISO 26000 compared to other leading SR initiatives. Integrating theories of legitimation and regulatory enrolment, the chapter theorizes the circumstances in which one can expect a regulator to acquiesce to an audience’s legitimation demands. It shows that labour was unlikely on its own to secure ISO’s acquiescence to its legitimation demands, but succeeded by both proactively leveraging and passively coasting upon the delicate relationship between a transnational regulator (ISO) that faced a legitimacy deficit and another actor (the International Labour Organization (ILO)) that could fill this deficit. It describes a triadic strategy in which a regulatory underdog exploits legitimation differentials between a legitimacy-poor regulator and a legitimacy-rich booster, and the booster is doubly enrolled by the regulator to enhance the regulator’s legitimacy and by the underdog to boost the underdog’s effectiveness.

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