Organizing Transnational Accountability
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Organizing Transnational Accountability

Edited by Magnus Boström and Christina Garsten

This book adds a multi-disciplinary organizational perspective to the theoretical analysis of political accountability and argues for a broadening of the conventional understanding of the concepts of responsibility and accountability.
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Chapter 3: ISO Expands its Business into Social Responsibility

Kristina Tamm Hallström


Kristina Tamm Hallström Every time we meet in the WG [ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility] I get the feeling that it will crash any minute, and it never does! I see this as a miracle. (NGO representative active in the ISO 26000 work, interviewed in Lisbon, May 2006) INTERNATIONAL STANDARDIZATION IN TRANSITION In this chapter I analyse the workings of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the field of Social Responsibility (SR). ISO is a private association assembling primarily industry representatives to set international standards in more than 200 technical fields, including management systems, with the aim of enabling technical coordination and increasing the effectiveness and rationalization of global trade. SR, on the other hand, focuses on responsibilities for sustainable development and the welfare of society. The general understanding of SR is that it encompasses issues such as human rights, labour practices and the environment – in short, issues that several of the stakeholders involved in this process would place within the traditional responsibilities of states. In 2004, however, it was decided that ISO would enter this field to set a guidance standard: the so-called ISO 26000, to be released in 2009. The more precise aim was to provide guidance on the concept of SR and on the ways in which an SR approach could be integrated into the everyday operations of all organizations. During the past two decades, the pressure on organizations to act in an environmentally, ethically and socially correct way has increased considerably, and...

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