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New Global Studies

Ed. by Chanda, Nayan / Iriye, Akira / Mazlish, Bruce / Sassen, Saskia

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Towards a Democratization of Standards Development? Internal Dynamics of ISO in the Context of Globalization

Coline Ruwet
Published Online: 2011-07-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1940-0004.1140

The last three decades have seen an expansion of international standardization in the context of globalization. Not only is the number of standards produced proliferating, but standardization as such is expanding into new fields. Moreover, the diversity of objects standardized and the variety of standards has increased. In this article I analyze the influence of globalization on the internal dynamic of a specific standardizing organization: the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the world’s largest developer of international standards. The thesis developed in this paper is that we are facing a pivotal period of reorientation and reorganization within ISO that can be understood in terms of the influence of globalization on international standardization. I show that ISO faces a crucial period in which the organization could evolve toward more or less democratization in its standards development process. First, I suggest a theoretical framework to explain the internal dynamics of a regulatory organization such as ISO in the context of globalization. My theoretical approach will offer a new perspective to better understand the influence of globalization on the organization and orientation of ISO. Democracy is one of the key normative issues raised by the literature about globalization. Among other things, this paper analyzes the globalizing trend, as well as the current challenges and tensions inherent in the democratization of a fundamental regulatory mechanism of globalization.

Keywords: ISO; standards development; globalization; democracy; ISO 26000

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Published Online: 2011-07-11

Citation Information: New Global Studies, Volume 5, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1940-0004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1940-0004.1140.

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