Institution Building across Borders
- Trajectories of Transnational Governance (Quack)
- The Copyright Dispute: How New Transnational Actors and Standards Challenge Established International Control Regimes (Quack/Dobusch)
- Transnational Politics of Professional Expertise: Convergence in International Accounting Standard Setting? (Quack/Lagneau-Ymonet)
- Global-Local Interaction in Cross-Border Governance (Quack/Malets)
- Elites on Trial? The Design of Institutions, Industries, and Organizations (Quack/Morgan/Hirsch)
- Microfinance: Narratives, Governmentalities, and Materialities of Financialization (Mader)
- The Transnational Governance of Land Grabbing (Margulis)
- Politics and Economies of Scale (Biltoft)
This project starts from the assumption that the transnational sphere is fertile ground for studying how institutions emerge and evolve in the face of strategic uncertainty, polyarchy, and a multiplicity of actors with different goals. Given such common conditions, why do transnational governance fields display highly differentiated trajectories in terms of their organizational forms and relational actor configurations? Why are there such varying degrees of democratic participation, public accountability, and institutional effectiveness? The project aims to develop a theoretical framework that focuses on the initial design, contestation, and responsiveness of governance organizations as well as on their relation to other actors within a specific field of rule-making. This conceptual work builds on a comparison of longitudinal studies on four fields, chosen to provide maximum variance in political salience and technical complexity: accounting standards, copyright rules, forest certification, and labor standards. The aim is to develop a theoretical typology of trajectories which are located on a continuum from monopolistic to pluralistic participation in governance.
Project duration: April 2012 to March 2013.
Quack, Sigrid (2012): Regime complexity and expertise in transnational governance: Strategizing on regulatory uncertainty. Paper presented at the Onati Workshop on Law, Contestation, and Power in the Global Political Economy 7-8 June 2012.
Malets, Olga and Sigrid Quack (2012): Projecting the Local into the Global: Trajectories of Participation in Transnational Standard-Setting. Available on SSRN. Forthcoming in: Gili Drori, Markus Höllerer and Peter Walgenbach (eds.): Organizations and Managerial Ideas: Global Themes and Local Variations. London: Routledge.
The Copyright Dispute: How New Transnational Actors and Standards Challenge Established International Control Regimes
Sigrid Quack and Leonhard Dobusch (Freie Universität Berlin)
In light of the growing economic importance of knowledge and of the technological change brought about by the Internet, regulating property and usage rights to intangible goods has become an increasingly contentious transnational issue. Recently, transnational counter-movements by non-governmental actors (such as NGOs) have emerged that propagate private standards of licensing with more generous rights of use. They criticize the asymmetrically restrictive copyright provisions that neglect the character of intellectual property as collective property and deplore the unused potential of current information and communication technologies to produce and distribute digitized goods. From the perspective of transnational institution-building, questions arise as to whether and how private forms of regulation can prevail, either in addition to or in place of established regulation, and what types of transnational organization can be involved. These questions will be addressed using the "Creative Commons" project as a case study. "Creative Commons" seeks to offer a multifaceted, internationally standardized array of alternative copyright licenses. A further goal of the project is to explore whether social movement and civil society actors’ demands for a modernisation of protection and usage rights spill over into European and international negotiations regarding copyright regulation.
Project duration: March 2007 to December 2013.
Dobusch, Leonhard and Quack, Sigrid (2011): Interorganisationale Netzwerke und digitale Gemeinschaften: Von Beiträgen zu Beteiligung? In: Managementforschung, 21: 171-213.
Dobusch, Leonhard and Quack, Sigrid (2012): Framing Standards, Mobilizing Users: Copyright versus Fair Use in Transnational Regulation. In: Review of International Political Economy, iFirst, 1-37.
Transnational Politics of Professional Expertise: Convergence in International Accounting Standard Setting?
Sigrid Quack and Paul Lagneau-Ymonet (IRISSO, Université Paris-Dauphine)The criteria for performance evaluation, especially economic performance, have gained social and scholarly prominence in recent years. At the same time, valuation expertise has become highly political, particularly in transnational governance and policy making, an area often based on expert knowledge. This project explores the politics of professional expertise in the realm of international accounting standard setting. These standards are crucial for evaluating companies that operate in global markets; they also provide important indicators for monitoring and regulating financial markets. The financial crisis has sparked debate about the convergence of international accounting standards: the US GAAP and its transnational counterpart, the IFRS. Over the last ten years, convergence has been slow due to negotiations being wrought by power struggles between the US, the EU, and the BRICs, and complicated by conflicting expert views held by accountants, market operators, and regulators. How can accounting standards be reformed to balance market transparency and regulatory effectiveness? How can cooperation between standard setters and regulators be optimized? How should accounting standard setters be made accountable to the broader public? The project addresses these issues by analyzing expert interviews with key actors and publicly available documents on accounting standards in the banking sectors of the US and Europe, as well as reform proposals at the national, European, and international levels. The project explores how discussions and struggles between various expert groups with differing views of accounting, influence international reform.
Project duration: October 2012 to December 2014.
Botzem, Sebastian and Quack, Sigrid (2009): (No) Limits to Anglo-American Accounting? Reconstructing the History of the International Accounting Standards Committee: A Review Article. In: Accounting, Organizations and Society, 34(8): 988-998.
Lagneau-Ymonet, Paul and Quack, Sigrid (2012): What's the Problem? Competing Diagnoses and Shifting Coalitions in the Reform of International Accounting Standards. In: Renate Mayntz (ed.): Crisis and Control. Institutional Change in Financial Market Regulation. Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 213-246.
Sigrid Quack and Olga Malets (Technische Universität München)
Transnational institutional development, by definition, involves interaction between a diverse range of actors who are situated in local as well as global fields of action. This project addresses how different types of global–local interaction, such as trickle-down and trickle-up effects or recursive feedback, shape governance trajectories. The aim is to develop a theoretical framework to synthesize results from the research groups’ longitudinal and multi-level analyses in different governance fields. These fields include: accounting standards, copyright and patent regulation, forest certification, conservation rules, labor standards, and microfinance. Empirical studies of these fields are to be published in an edited volume.
Project duration: April 2012 to March 2014.
Malets, Olga (2011): From Transnational Voluntary Standards to Local Practices: A Case Study of Forest Certification in Russia. MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/7.
Malets, Olga and Sigrid Quack (2012): Projecting the Local into the Global: Trajectories of Participation in Transnational Standard-Setting. Available on SSRN. Forthcoming in: Gili Drori, Markus Höllerer and Peter Walgenbach(eds.): Organizations and Managerial Ideas: Global Themes and Local Variations. London: Routledge.
Sigrid Quack, with Glenn Morgan (Cardiff Business School) and Paul Hirsch (Northwestern University)
The international financial and European sovereign debts crises have resulted in a challenge to the power of economic and political elites. Against this background, this project critically engages with C. Wright Mills’ work on the power elite. Mills saw US society in the 1950s as being ruled by elitist circles who occupied power positions in large organizational bureaucracies located inside the power triangle of the economy, military, and politics. But over the past two decades, globalization, liberalization politics, and financialization have weakened elite networks spanning large corporations. This raises a number of questions about the relationships between elites and institutional design. What is the effect on power elites when national bureaucracies are being replaced by global networks and market relations? To what extent are elites still forming and reproducing within national contexts, and to what extent is a global elite emerging? In what ways do elites shape the design and development of national and international institutions and organizations, and to what degree are these being used to strategically influence industry? Finally, what organizational resources do elites use to maintain and defend their power in the face of crisis, challenges, and resistance from other groups in society, and what resources are their opponents able to mobilize? These questions were discussed by a group of 20 scholars from the US, Europe, Israel, and Asia at the EGOS Colloquium in Helsinki in July 2012. An edited volume of selected papers is currently being prepared and will be published as part of the “Sociology of Organizations” series.
Project duration: July 2012 to December 2013.
The financialization of capitalism is a transnational social fact and historical trend affecting societies around the globe. But little attention has been paid to its intricacies and subtleties in areas such as the proliferation of microfinance. Microfinance is driving the expansion of financial markets into the slums and villages of the “Global South” – who then become integrated into transnational capital circuits. Microfinance constructs social problems as financial problems and gives moral urgency to market expansion by promising “empowerment” through debt. This clearly reveals the mobilizing narratives that underlie financialization. The mechanisms and effects of governmentality produced in financial market relations can be examined through those credit linkages which instill discipline while opening up new channels of surplus extraction. This project aims to add to the social-scientific analysis of money, credit, and debt by examining the functioning of financial markets in modern capitalism as revealed by the logics and techniques underlying microfinance. It applies theories from political economy and economic sociology, and builds on case studies concerning the expansion and limits of microfinance.
Project duration: June 2012 to September 2013.
Matias E. Margulis (University of Northern British Columbia)
This project examines a new and poorly understood field of transnational governance, land. Since the 2008 global food price crisis, investors and governments have acquired over 60 million hectares of agricultural land worldwide to outsource the production of biofuels, animal feed, and food. This scale of land acquisition has not been seen since the era of colonialism and critics have referred to this phenomenon as a “global land grab.” Several controversial land deals, and the growing awareness of the socio-ecological consequences of land grabs more generally, has prompted states, investors, international organizations, global civil society organizations, and transnational social movements to cooperate in creating global rules to regulate land grabbing. Given that land is conventionally understood through the legal framework of national sovereignty, what types of rule-systems, discourse, and forms of political power are these actors using to construct land grabbing as a transnational governance issue? The project’s empirical focus is on two recent transnational governance mechanisms that feature the bundling of multiple public and private rules rooted in diverse issue areas.
Project duration: October 2012 to July 2013.
Margulis, Matias E. (2012): Land grabbing and global governance: Some initial observations. Paper presented at Global Land Grabbing II conference. Cornell University. Ithaca, NY, USA.
Margulis, Matias E., Nora McKeon, Saturnino M. Borras Jr. (eds.)(forthcoming): Land Grabbing and Global Governance. London: Routledge. [expected July 2013]
Carolyn N. Biltoft (Georgia State University)
The League of Nations was not merely a failed outgrowth of European international relations, but rather a novel global institutional form. This project shows how the League’s experimental efforts to coordinate the world’s political and economic life emerged within and effected significant transformations in the international system between 1919 and 1945. The project is predicated on the idea that globalization has continually reorganized the relationship between politics and the economy both within and between nations. International organizations provide not only a centralized archival record but also an additional vantage point from which to examine these processes. To those ends, the project draws from the methods of global history, organization theory and international political economy to better grasp how international organizations in general and the League of Nations in particular, have affected the nature and course of the global political economy. The project moves through a series of themes — from bureaucratic practices and financial structures to economic sanctions and raw materials — and connects the League’s policies on each issue to changes in relevant political and economic theories.
Project duration: October 2012 to September 2013.