Toronto Workshop 2010


Dynamics of Interaction in Transnational Business Governance Regimes

Toronto Workshop 2010 | Hennick Centre for Business and Law | October 22, 2010

Our inaugural workshop brought together 31 researchers from 7 countries to explore the prospects for an interdisciplinary research agenda focused on transnational business governance interactions.

The workshop focused on a previously neglected aspect of transnational regulation or governance “beyond the state.” Most scholarship on transnational governance was focused on defining the phenomenon under study, examining individual schemes, developing taxonomies to classify them, and enhancing their accountability and legitimacy. Very little attention had been paid to how these burgeoning transnational regulatory initiatives – and the actors behind them – overlap, interact, cooperate and/or compete with each other and with more conventional forms of governance, aside from the question of how “new” governance relates to “old” law and regulation. And yet these interactions are myriad, and have increasingly important implications for business, government and society. This subject is ripe for exploration.

The workshop was intended as the first step in a larger, multi-disciplinary research program that explores the forms, logics, drivers, trajectories and consequences of interactions among transnational business governance initiatives. The immediate goal of the workshop was to stimulate an exploratory discussion of this research agenda with a view to identifying interested researchers, refining research questions, and canvassing fruitful frameworks, methods and empirical contexts for research. The longer-term goals were to build a transnational research network, secure major collaborative research funding, implement a multi-disciplinary research program, and organize specific activities including research projects, conferences and publications.

The participants included leading scholars of transnational regulation and governance drawn from the Toronto area and around the world. They came from multiple disciplines and represented diverse analytical perspectives and empirical contexts. The workshop was structured around a discussion paper, that began to explore the research subject. Rather than presenting papers, participants wrote short memos responding to the discussion paper. The memos were circulated among all participants in advance of the workshop, providing a foundation for fruitful brainstorming at the workshop itself. The workshop discussion addressed numerous issues including the framing of research questions, promising disciplines, frameworks, perspectives, empirical contexts for research and logistical issues such as funding opportunities.

The workshop was a great success. Participants collaborated to formulate four central research questions that would frame the research initiative:

  1. How do transnational business governance initiatives interact with one another and with state law and regulation?
  2. How do the forms and dynamics of interaction vary over time and space, and across issue areas, organizational fields, and stages in the regulatory process (e.g. rule making, implementation and enforcement)?
  3. How do these interactions shape regulatory formations, actions and outcomes?
  4. How can policy actors steer interactions to promote positive social outcomes?

These research questions and the network of researchers who generated them formed the basis of a successful Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant proposal. That SSHRC Partnership Development Grant enabled a community of committed scholars (Four university partners, numerous collaborating researchers and a leading TBGI standards association, the ISEAL Alliance) to launch the TBGI Project and Research Network.

See the workshop program here.


  • Stepan Wood, York University, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Kenneth Abbott, Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law & School of Politics and Global Studies
  • Julia Black, London School of Economics, Department of Law
  • Burkard Eberlein, York University, Schulich School of Business
  • Errol Meidinger, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo School of Law


  • Graeme Auld, Carleton University
  • Tim Bartley, Ohio State University
  • Steven Bernstein, University of Toronto
  • Adelle Blackett, McGill University
  • Fabrizio Cafaggi, European University Institute
  • Benjamin Cashore, Yale University
  • Wesley Cragg, York University
  • Hevina Dashwood, Brock University
  • Klaus Dingwerth, University of Bremen
  • David Doorey, York University
  • Jessica Green, Case Western Reserve University
  • Virginia Haufler, University of Maryland
  • Martin Herberg, University of Bremen
  • Sylvia Hsu, York University
  • Nico Krisch, Hertie School of Governance
  • Anne Loft, Lund University
  • Christine Overdevest, University of Florida
  • Tony Porter, McMaster University
  • Alan Richardson, York University
  • Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito, Universidad de los Andes
  • Colin Scott, University College Dublin
  • Timothy Smith, University of Minnesota
  • David Szablowski, York University
  • Kernaghan Webb, Ryerson University
  • Claire Yick, York University
  • Peer Zumbansen, York University

This workshop was sponsored by Osgoode Hall Law School, the Schulich School of Business, York University, the Hennick Centre for Law, and the Chartered Accountants of Ontario.

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