Skip to main content Accessibility help

Beyond the transatlantic divide: the multiple authorities of standards in the global political economy of services

  • Jean-Christophe Graz and Christophe Hauert (a1)


This paper explores the plurality of institutional environments in which standards for the service sector are expected to support the rise of a global knowledge-based economy. A wide range of international bodies is able to define standards affecting the internationalization of services. Relying on global political economy approaches, the analysis uncovers the power relations underpinning the various forms of standards supporting a deeper integration of the market for services. Service standards are conceived as heterogeneous forms of transnational hybrid authority. The empirical study focuses on recent developments in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the European Union, and the US. In contrast to conventional views opposing the American system to the ISO/European framework, the paper argues that institutional developments of service standards are likely to face trade-offs and compromises reflecting contrasting models of standardization, not only between, but also across, those systems. While this undermines the conventional analysis of a transatlantic divide in standardization, it also shows that the variance between product and service standards is much greater in the European context and the ISO system than in the US, where it is hardly debated.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Beyond the transatlantic divide: the multiple authorities of standards in the global political economy of services
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Beyond the transatlantic divide: the multiple authorities of standards in the global political economy of services
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Beyond the transatlantic divide: the multiple authorities of standards in the global political economy of services
      Available formats


Corresponding author

* Institut d'Etudes Politiques et Internationales, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, e-mail:


Hide All
Abbott, Kenneth W. and Snidal, Duncan. 2001. “International ‘Standards’ and International Governance.” Journal of European Public Policy 8 (3): 345370.
Blind, Knut. 2003. “Standards in the Service Sector: An Explorative Study.” European Commission, Enterprise Directorate-General.
Blind, Knut. 2004. The Economics of Standards: Theory, Evidence, Policy. Cheltenham: E. Elgar.
Blind, Knut and Jungmittag, André. 2005. “Trade and the Impact of Innovations and Standards: The Case of Germany and the UK.” Applied Economics 37: 13851398.
Boden, Mark and Miles, Ian. 2000. “Conclusions: Beyond the services Economy.” In Services and the Knowledge-Based Economy, edited by Boden, Mark and Miles, Ian. London: Continuum.
Brunsson, Nils, Jacobsson, Bengt, and Associates. 2000. A World of Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brunsson, Nils, Rasche, Andreas, and Seidl, David. 2012. “The Dynamics of Standardization: Three Perspectives on Standards in Organization Studies.” Organization Studies 33 (5–6): 613632.
Bryson, John R. and Daniels, Peter W., eds. 2007. The Handbook of Service Industries. Cheltenham: E. Elgar.
Busch, Lawrence. 2011. Standards: Recipes for Reality. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.
Büthe, Tim. 2010. “Private Regulation in the Global Economy: A (P)Review.” Business and Politics 12 (3): 138.
Büthe, Tim and Mattli, Walter. 2011. The New Global Rulers: The Privatization of Regulation in the World Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Callon, Michel, Méadel, Cécile, and Rabeharisoa, Vololona. 2002. “The Economy of Qualities.” Economy and Society 31 (2): 194217.
Cargill, Carl F. 1989. Information Technology Standardization: Theory, Process and Organisations. Bedford MA: Digital Press.
Consortium, CHESSS. 2009a. Consolidated Report on the Feasibility Study in Response to EU Mandate M/371. CEN's Horizontal European Services Standardization Strategy.
Consortium, CHESSS. 2009b. Module 4 & 5, The Customer Satisfaction Continuum. Customer Satisfaction Assessment, Responding to Complaints, Redress, Provision and Dispute Resolution. Final Report. CEN's Horizontal European Services Standardization Strategy.
Consortium, CHESSS. 2009c. Module 7, The Specification, Sourcing, Delivery and Quality of Business-to-Business Services. Final Report. CEN's Horizontal European Services Standardization Strategy.
Chiapello, Eve and Fairclough, Norman. 2002. “Understanding the New Management Ideology: a Transdisciplinary Contribution from Critical Discourse Analysis and New Sociology of Capitalism.” Discourse Society 13 (2): 185208.
Cox, Robert W. 1992. “Global Perestroïka.” In Socialist Register, edited by Miliband, Ralph and Panitch, Leo. London: Merlin Press.
Cutler, A. Claire, Haufler, Virginia and Porter, eds, Tony. 1999. Private Authority and International Affairs. New York: SUNY Press.
Czaya, Axel and Hesser, Wilfried. 2001. “Standardization Systems as Indicators of Mental, Cultural and Socio-Economic States.” Knowledge, Technology & Policy 14 (3): 2440.
DiMaggio, Paul J. and Powell, Walter W. 1983. “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.” American Sociological Review 48 (2): 147160.
Djelic, Marie-Laure and Sahlin.-Andersson, Kerstin, eds. 2006. Transnational Governance: Institutional Dynamics of Regulation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Djellal, Faridah and Gallouj, Faïz. 2010. “Services, Innovation and Performance: General Presentation.” Journal of Innovation Economics & Management 5 (1): 515.
Dobusch, Leonhard and Quack, Sigrid. 2012. “Framing Standards, Mobilizing Users: Copyright Versus Fair Use in Transnational Regulation.” Review of International Political Economy 20 (1): 5288.
Dossani, Rafiq and Kenney, Martin. 2007. “The Next Wave of Globalization: Relocating Service Provision to India.” World Development 35 (5): 772791.
Drèze, Jacques. 1989. “The Standard Goods Hypothesis.” In The European Internal Market, edited by Jacquemin, Alexis and Sapir, André. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dudouet, François-Xavier, Mercier, Delphine and Vion, Antoine. 2006. “Politiques Internationales de Normalisation: Quelques Jalons pour la Recherche Empirique.” Revue Française de science politique 56 (3): 367392.
du Tertre, Christian. 2013. “Configuration productives de services et internationalisation. Une approche régulationniste.” In Services sans frontières. mondialisation, normalisation et régulation de l’économie des services, edited by Graz, Jean-Christophe and Niang, Nafi. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po.
Egan, Michelle. 2001. Constructing a European Market: Standards, Regulation, and Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Egyedi, Tineke. 2005. “Beyond Consortia, Beyond Standardization? Redefining the Consortium Problem.” In Advanced Topics in Information Technology Standards and Standardization Research, edited by Jacobs, Kai. London: IGI Publishing.
Grande, Edgar and Pauly, Louis W., eds. 2005. Complex Sovereignty: Reconstituting Political Authority in the Twenty-First Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Graz, Jean-Christophe. 2006a. “Les hybrides de la mondialisation: Acteurs, objets et espaces de l'économie politique internationale.” Revue française de science politique 56 (5): 765787.
Graz, Jean-Christophe. 2006b. “International Standardisation and Corporate Democracy.” In Global Norms in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Giesen, Klaus-Gerd and van der Pijl, Kees. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.
Graz, Jean-Christophe and Nölke, Andreas, eds. 2008. Transnational Private Governance and Its Limits. London: Routledge.
Graz, Jean-Christophe and Niang, Nafi. eds. 2013. Services sans frontières. Mondialisation, normalisation et régulation de l’économie des services, Paris: Presses de Science Po.
Guler, Islin, Guillén, Mauro F. and Muir Macpherson, John. 2002. “Global Competition, Institutions, and the Diffusion of Organizational Practices: The International Spread of ISO 9000 Quality Certificates.” Administrative Science Quarterly 47: 207232.
Hall, Rodney Bruce and Bierstecker, Thomas J., eds. 2002. The Emergence of Private Authority in Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Higgins, Winton and Hallström, Kristina Tamm. 2007. “Standardization, Globalization and the Rationalities of Government.” Organization 14 (5): 685704.
Higgott, Richard, Underhill, Geoffrey and Bieler, eds, Andreas. 1999. Non-State Actors and Authority in the Global System. London and New York: Routledge.
ISO. 2006. “Service Sectors Turn to Standards.” ISO Focus January: 740.
ISO. 2010. Assessing Economic Benefits of Consensus-Based Standards: The ISO Methodology. Geneva: International Organization for Standardization.
Joerges, Christian, Ladeur, Karl-Heinz and Vos, Ellen. 1999. “The Law's Problems with the Involvement of Non-Governmental Actors in Europe's Legislative Processes: The Case of Standardisation under the ‘New Approach’.” In EUI Working Paper LAW No. 99/9. San Domenico: European University Institute.
Krause Hansen, Hans. 2008. “Investigation the Disaggregation, Innnovation, and Mediation of Authority in Global Politics.” In Critical Perspectives on Private Authority an Global Politics, edited by Krause Hansen, Hans and Salskov-Iversen, Dorte. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lalonde, Carole and Boiral, Olivier. 2012. “Managing Risks Through ISO 31000: A Critical Analysis.” Risk Management 14: 272300.
Loconto, Allison and Busch, Lawrence. 2010. “Standards, Techno-Economic Networks, and Playing Fields: Performing the Global Market Economy.” Review of International Political Economy 17 (3): 507536.
Loya, Thomas A. and Boli, John. 1999. “Standardization in the World Polity: Technical Rationality Over Power.” In Constructing World Culture, edited by Boli, John and Thomas, George M. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Mattli, Walter. 2001. “The Politics and Economics of International Institutional Standards Setting: An Introduction.” Journal of European Public Policy 8 (3): 328344.
Mattli, Walter and Büthe, Tim. 2003. “Setting International Standards: Technological Rationality or Primacy of Power?World Politics 56 (1): 142.
Murphy, Craig. 1994. International Organization and Industrial Change: Global Governance Since 1850. Cambridge (MA): Polity Press.
Murphy, Craig and Yates, JoAnne. 2009. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO): Global Governance through Voluntary Consensus. London: Routledge.
Nicolaïdis, Kalypso and Egan, Michelle. 2001. “Transnational Market Governance and Regional Policy Externalities: Why Recognize Foreign Standards?Journal of European Public Policy 8 (3): 454473.
NIST. 2009. “Selected Impacts of Documentary Standards Supported by Nist, 2008 Edition.” Gaithersburg: National Institute of Standards and Technology, US Department of Commerce.
NIST. 2010. Thirteenth Annual Report on Federal Agency Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and Conformity Assessment. Gaithersburg: National Institute of Standards and Technology, US Department of Commerce.
OECD. 1999. “Regulatory Reform and International Standardisation.” Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Trade Committee Working Party.
Prakash, Aseem and Potoski, Matther. 2006. “Racing to the Bottom? Trade, Environmental Governance, and ISO 14001.” American Journal of Political Science 50 (2): 350364.
Prakash, Aseem and Potoski, Matther. 2010. “The International Standards Organization as a Global Governor: a Club Theory Approach.” In Who Governs the Globe?, edited by Avant, Deborah D., Finnemore, Martha and Sell, Susan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Radu, Roxana, Chenou, Jean-Marie and Weber, Rolf H., eds. 2013. The Evolution of Global Internet Governance: Principles and Policies in the Making. Zurich: Schulthess.
Ruwet, Coline. 2009. “Des Filetages à la RSE. Normalisation et Démocratie. Sociologie du Processus d'Élaboration d'ISO 26000.” Ph.D diss., Université catholique de Louvain.
Sako, Mari. 2009. “Outsourcing and Offshoring: Implications for Productivity of Business Services.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 22 (4): 499512.
Sassen, Saskia. 2003. “Globalization or Denationalization?Review of International Political Economy 10 (1): 122.
Sassen, Saskia. 2006. Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Schepel, Harm. 2005. The Constitution of Private Governance: Product Standards in the Regulation of Integrating Markets. Oxford: Hart Publishing.
Schirm, Stefan A. ed. 2004. New Rules for Global Markets: Public and Private Governance in the World Economy. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Schmidt, Susanne K. and Werle, Raymund. 1998. Coordination Technology: Studies in the International Standardization of Telecommunication. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.
Schoechle, Timothy. 2009. Standardization and Digital Enclosure: The Privatization of Standards, Knowledge, and Policy in the Ages of Global Information Technology. Hershey (NY): Information Science Reference.
Small, Mario Louis. 2009. “‘How Many Cases Do I need?’ On Science and the Logic of Case Selection in Field-Based Research.” Ethnography 10 (1): 538.
Spruyt, Hendrik. 2001. “The Supply and Demand of Governance in Standard-Setting: Insights from the Past.” Journal of European Public Policy 8 (3): 371391.
Sundbo, Jon. 2002. “The Service Economy: Standardisation or Customisation?The Service Industries Journal 22 (4): 93116.
Swann, Peter. 2000. The Economics of Standardization. Final Report for Standards and Technical Regulations Directorate Department of Trade and Industry. Manchester: Manchester Business School.
Tamm Hallström, Kristina. 2004. Organizing International Standardization: ISO and the IASC in Quest of Authority. Cheltenham: E. Elgar.
Tamm Hallström, Kristina and Boström, Magnus. 2010. Transnational Multi-Stakeholder Standardization: Organizing Fragile Non-State Authority. Cheltenham: E. Elgar.
Taylor, Stephanie. 2001. “Locating and Conducting Discourse Analytical Research.” In Discourse as Data: A Guide for Analysis, edited by Wetherell, Margaret, Taylor, Stephanie and Yates, Simeon J. London: Sage.
Tate, Jeffrey. 2001. “National Varieties of Standardization.” In Varieties of Capitalism, edited by Hall, Peter and Soskice, David. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Temple, Paul and Williams, Geoffrey. 2002. The Benefits of Standards: Trading with and within Europe. Brussels: European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
Tether, Bruce, Hipp, Christiane and Miles, Ian. 2001. “Standardisation and Particularisation in Services: Evidence from Germany.” Research Policy 30 (7): 11151138.
Timmermans, Stefan and Epstein, Steven. 2010. “A World of Standards But Not a Standard World: Toward a Sociology of Standards and Standardization.” Annual Review of Sociology 36: 6989.
Toth, Robert B. 1984. The Economics of Standardization. Minneapolis: Standards Engineering Society.
Dijk, Van, Teun, A. 2001. “Critical Discourse Analysis.” In The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, edited by Schiffrin, Deborah, Tannen, Deborah and Hamilton, Heidi E. Oxford: Blackwell.
Vogel, David. 1995. Trading Up: Consumer and Environmental Regulation in a Global Economy. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
Vogel, David. 2009. “The Private Regulation of Global Corporate Conduct.” In The Politics of Global Regulation, edited by Mattli, Walter and Woods, Ngaire. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
de Vries, Henk. 1999. Standards for the Nation: Analysis of National Standardization Organizations. Ph.D. diss., Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.
Werle, Raymund. 2001. “Institutional Aspects of Standardization – Jurisdictional Conflicts and the Choice of Standardization Organizations.” Journal of European Public Policy 8 (3): 392410.
Winn, Jane K. 2009. “Globalization and Standards: The Logic of Two-Level Games.” I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society 5 (2): 185218.
World Trade Organization. 2012. World Trade Report 2012. Trade and Public Policies: A Closer Look at Non-Tariff Measures in the 21st Century. Geneva: WTO.
Zuckerman, Amy. 1999. “Standards Battles Heat Up Between United States and European Union.” Quality Progress 32 (1): 3942.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Beyond the transatlantic divide: the multiple authorities of standards in the global political economy of services

  • Jean-Christophe Graz and Christophe Hauert (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.