Handbook on Multi-level Governance
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Handbook on Multi-level Governance

Edited by Henrik Enderlein, Sonja Wälti and Michael Zürn

Scholarship of multi-level governance has developed into one of the most innovative themes of research in political science and public policy. This accessible Handbook presents a thorough review of the wide-ranging literature, encompassing various theoretical and conceptual approaches to multi-level governance and their application to policy-making in domestic, regional and global contexts.
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Chapter 30: Standards for Global Markets: Domestic and International Institutions

Tim Büthe and Walter Mattli


Tim Büthe and Walter Mattli* 30.1 INTRODUCTION: STANDARDS AS INSTRUMENTS OF GOVERNANCE Standards prescribe behavior or characteristics of people or inanimate objects, often in technical terms. There are many kinds of standards locally, nationally and internationally, including standards of academic excellence (Reeves 2004) or corporate social responsibility (Stewart and Spille 1998; Vogel 2005; Auld et al. 2008), health and safety standards (Cheit 1990; Büthe 2008b), capital adequacy standards for banks (Oatley and Nabors 1998; Singer 2007), standards for data privacy (Schaffer 2000; Farrell 2003; Bignami 2005; Newman 2008), labor rights standards (Mosley 2010) and accounting standards (Mattli and Büthe 2005a, 2005b; Nölke 2005; Véron et al. 2006). Like norms and regulations, standards are instruments of governance. But standards differ from most social norms in that they are more explicit.1 At the same time, standards differ from governmental regulations in that the use of, or compliance with, a standard is not mandatory. Only if a standard becomes the technical basis for a law or regulation – which often and increasingly occurs – does it become legally binding (Hamilton 1978; Salter 1988; Egan 2001). We focus here on product standards, which are among the most important standards in the international political economy. Product standards specify design or performance characteristics of manufactured goods, such as their sizes, shapes or functions, ‘or the way [they are] labeled or packaged before [being] put on sale’ (WTO 1998, E3-2).2 Why do firms seek to make their products comply with certain standards? Even...

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