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Organizing International Standardization
ISO and the IASC in Quest of Authority
This book investigates the ways in which global standardization organizations establish, negotiate, and maintain their authority and legitimacy, thereby inducing companies, states, and other organizations to adopt and implement the voluntary standards they produce. The book examines the structure and workings of two major standard-setters: the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). Within ISO, the author studies Technical Committee 176, which is responsible for standards for quality assurance and quality management - the much-discussed ISO 9000 standards implemented by thousands of companies around the world. The IASC sets global accounting standards that are increasingly important in an era of rising demands for transparent, full-disclosure financial reporting.
On the basis of extensive interviews and the analysis of documents produced by the standardization bodies, the author reveals the mechanisms, internal struggles, and variable logics of their globalizing efforts, showing how nominally voluntary implementation programs effectively produce widespread adoption and compliance with complex, highly technical standards. Kristina Tamm Hallstrom brings together organizational theory, discourse analysis, a global perspective, and an alert sensitivity to power relations to make sense of ISO TC 176 and the IASC. Theoretically nuanced and empirically rich, Organizing International Standardization offers much of value to scholars and practitioners in sociology, international relations, business, accounting, technical disciplines, organizational consulting, and related areas
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Much recent research emphasizes that national institutions, in contemporary societies, tend to reflect models that are institutionalized on a global basis. This observation contrasts with earlier lines of thought emphasizing the dependence of national practices on distinct national histories and situations. But it dramatically raises the question given the most current attention: what processes of power and authority produce these potent global models and patterns? Kristina Tamm Hallstrom provides a valuable account of how it all works in two distinct areas of social management: the rise of quality standardization around the International Organization for Standardization; and the creation of global accounting standards through the International Accounting Standards Committee. She analyzes in detail the origins, structures, processes, powers, and problems of these rapidly expanding organizations. Her book provides important examples, ideas, and analyses for those interested in the intensifying process of global standardization.' -- John W. Meyer, Stanford University, US 'This book is much more than a study of ISO 9000 and international accounting standards; it is a significant advance in our understanding of global governance. Tamm Hallstrom's penetrating examination of the standardization sector shows how global authority operates effectively without states. It brings to the fore essential dimensions of global organization - technical expertise, professionalization, highly formalized rulemaking, and the drive for efficiency - that have received far too little attention. We need many more studies like it. Tamm Hallstrom has produced an exemplary model for those who will follow in her footsteps.' -- John Boli, Emory University, US 'Standards and standard setting organizations have become critical for governance and regulatory systems. This new comparative study provides important insights into the workings of two influential standard setters, the International Organization for Standardization and the (former) International Accounting Standards Committee. The analysis compares the policy process for these two bodies and the complex nature of an authority base which depends on networks of organizations both to supply technical expertise and to support the adoption and dissemination of standards in the absence of formal law. This book is therefore essential reading for policymakers and academics interested in new forms of regulation and control, especially transnational arenas for rulemaking.' -- Michael Power, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK and author of The Audit Society