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TBGI Working Paper 9

ISO 26000: Bridging the Public/Private Divide in Transnational Business Governance Interactions

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Kernaghan Webb

September 2012

Abstract

This paper explores the proposition that the ISO 26000 social responsibility guidance standard represents an innovative form of global social responsibility (SR) rule instrument that performs five key distinctive bridging functions in addressing public and private transnational business governance interactions: (1) top down transpositions of key concepts from inter-governmental instruments directed at first instance at states into a non-state global SR rule instrument applying directly to transnational corporations (TNCs) and other organizations; (2) bottom up transpositions of key concepts from non-state SR instruments of narrow focus to apply more broadly to all SR activities; (3) innovations in the standards development process, to bridge and bring together a diverse range of key public sector, private sector and civil society actors (including SR instrument competitors), thus forming a key basis for its characterization as an influential statement of the global community concerning the appropriate behaviour of TNCs and other organizations; (4) design of the instrument as a framework normative document intended for use by public sector, private sector and civil society actors, compatible and aligned with other key global SR instruments; and (5) characterization of ISO 26000 as emerging global SR custom, to be applied by domestic governments, courts, and others, to address behaviour of TNCs and other organizations.

Keywords

Transnational governance, transnational corporations, social responsibility, law, standards, custom, norms, institutionalization, legitimacy