Local Enterprises in the Global Economy
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Local Enterprises in the Global Economy

Issues of Governance and Upgrading

Edited by Hubert Schmitz

This book opens a fresh chapter in the debate on local enterprise clusters and their strategies for upgrading in the global economy. The authors employ a novel conceptual framework in their research on industrial clusters in Europe, Latin America and Asia and provide new perspectives and insights for researchers and policymakers alike.
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Chapter 3: Making sense of global standards

Khalid Nadvi and Frank Wältring


Khalid Nadvi and Frank Wältring* INTRODUCTION Globalization has heightened interest in global standards. Such standards address a wide range of issues from labour conditions, health and safety norms, quality management procedures, to environmental and social concerns. Various actors take a keen interest in these standards, notably consumers in advanced countries, international NGOs (non-governmental organizations), global buyers and producers, and UN agencies. Their interests and motivations for promoting standards differ widely. Some are concerned with defending or advancing narrow interests. Others are driven by wider concerns such as protecting the vulnerable (people or environment) or halting the ‘race to the bottom’. However, governments and enterprises in developing countries find that, while they are expected to comply with global standards, they have little say in the making of standards. Not surprisingly, global standards feature significantly in key policy debates on the future of the world economy. This is apparent at four levels and revolves around the role of standards in: i) promoting economic efficiency and international trade; ii) reflecting concerns on the social and ecological dimensions of international trade; iii) providing pressure and opportunity to switch from the low to the high road of competitiveness; and, iv) pointing to new forms of global governance. However, the proliferation of standards in recent years has made it very difficult to conduct an orderly analysis of these debates. In this chapter we seek to reduce the confusion and complexity that arises from the proliferation of standards. Our objective is...

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