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 4: Organizing Accountability in Transnational Standards Organizations: The Forest Stewardship Council as a Good Governance Model

Lars H. Gulbrandsen

Extract

4. Organizing accountability in transnational standards organizations: the Forest Stewardship Council as a good governance model Lars H. Gulbrandsen INTRODUCTION Voluntary standard setting implies that companies, industry associations or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) assume some responsibility for policy making and enactment and that the state plays a less central role.1 The emergence of standards and certification schemes in the environmental realm is part of a general shift from command and control instruments and ‘end of pipe’ regulations towards process-oriented collaborative solutions among environmental organizations, industry and the state (for example, Mol et al. 2000; Spaargaren 2000). Transnational non-state-driven standardization processes are particularly illustrative of the new collaborative alliances between environmentalists and private companies. Frustrated by their inability to enact stronger environmental regulations through government lobbies, many green groups have searched for new forms of political participation, engaging in cooperation with businesses to set standards and develop mechanisms for enforcing them. Standards are ‘soft regulations’ existing outside organizations and issued without the authority that managers are granted within organizations, but they are often backed by particular standards organizations or standard setters seeking to become more like formal organizations (Ahrne and Brunsson 2004). Yet it is not clear if non-state organizations that claim responsibility for collective goods and public interests are answerable only to their own members or if they must answer to the general public. These organizations make rules that responsible companies are expected to follow, but the organizations examined in this chapter do not have a government mandate to make...

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