This talk explores the role of organised labour in drafting the ISO 26000 social responsibility (SR) guide as a case study of the circumstances in which marginalised actors can take advantage of “transnational business governance interactions” (TBGIs) to achieve regulatory outcomes that advance their interests.
Organised labour was vastly outnumbered and out-resourced in the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), yet it achieved remarkably strong protection for workers in ISO 26000. Integrating theories of legitimation and regulatory enrolment, I argue that organised labour achieved this success by both actively exploiting and passively coasting upon the delicate relationship between a transnational regulator that lacked legitimacy—ISO—and another actor—the International Labour Organisation (ILO)—that could supply it.
From this case I generalise a triadic interactive strategy in which an underdog exploits legitimation differentials between a legitimacy-poor regulator and a legitimacy-rich booster to advance its interests in transnational governance. The talk is drawn from a chapter in a forthcoming book on how to harness TBGIs to advance marginalised actors and improve regulatory quality.
Professor Stepan Wood holds the Canada Research Chair in Law, Society and Sustainability at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver. He directs the Centre for Law and the Environment and coordinates the Specialisation in Environmental and Natural Resource Law. He studies corporate social responsibility, sustainability, globalisation, transnational governance, voluntary standards, climate change and environmental law. He leads the interdisciplinary Transnational Business Governance Interactions (TBGI) research network, which examines competition, cooperation, coordination, and conflict in transnational business governance. He is lead editor of Transnational Business Governance Interactions: Advancing Marginalized Actors and Enhancing Regulatory Quality (Edward Elgar, forthcoming).