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Jean-Christophe Graz

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Jean-Christophe Graz

The authority gained by technical standards presumably set in favour of powerful global corporations is one of the contentious issues which populist movements have capitalized on worldwide to engrain a new wave of globalization backlash. This chapter explores to what extent global corporations are able to set standards in their own interests, and discusses how such standards exercise a form of alternative authority. In contrast to conventional accounts highlighting welfare costs and benefits of standardization, it forges a global political economy perspective that puts emphasis on the comprehensive foundation of power relations involved in the regulatory authority of standards. It argues that standards reflect a form of hybrid governance over which global corporations have much hold, and that increasingly competes with previous rules governing markets, and more generally with the social foundations of state power. Despite the lack of fully reliable and systematic data on corporate influence in standard-setting processes, the chapter provides some evidence of the ability of corporate representatives to organize themselves and defend their interests on a truly global level.