The Rise and Limits of Self-Regulation
New Horizons in Competition Law and Economics series
Chapter 3: The governance and institutional structure of SSOs
As Schepel has said, the widespread scholarly neglect of the phenomenon of standard development organizations (SDOs) and product standards in modern market regulation seems striking in the light of the preoccupation of scholars with a whole series of processes that standardization seems to exemplify. 'Against the backdrop of the process of globalisation and differentiation, the national state generally loses its centrality in the activity of government, and in this general landscape, SDOs, neither public nor private, nationally based but structurally locked into global frameworks, mediating between market demands and legal requirements, seem to flourish.' To take the regional SDO, European Committee for Standardization (CEN) as an example, it governs more than 14,000 standards, has 299 committees and 1,411 working groups, engaging more than 60,000 technical experts. Almost exclusively, these committees and working groups are staffed by representatives of undertakings even though the national standardization organizations in CEN, e.g. the Danish SDO DIS and the Swedish SDO SIS, formally have the ultimate voting power. Standardization bodies take on greater prominence at both the international and domestic level of government, not because of a general decision to cede power to the private sector, but rather because of a number of independent factors such as, presumably, markets, and because private actors can approach problems without the arbitrary territorial boundaries. Self-regulatory private or semi-private agencies can also normally command a higher degree of expertize and technical knowledge of practice and innovatory possibilities than independent agencies, hence monitoring and enforcement costs are reduced.
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