GLOBAL POLICIES AND LOCAL PRACTICE: LOOSE AND TIGHT COUPLINGS IN MULTI-STAKEHOLDER INITIATIVES
ACRN research correspondent Berta van Schoor reviews a paper on how multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) can be linked to network theory.
How can issues, such as environmental damage, child labor, and corruption, be tackled most effectively? The author explains that many of today’s social problems reflect in fact transnational governance challenges. In the age of globalization, MSIs are often discussed as a new governance mechanism, capable of tackling such transnational governance challenges. In his article, Rasche presents a new approach on how to conceptualize MSIs, linking these initiatives to network theory. The author claims that so far most analyses have overemphasized the role of actors in MSI and neglected the processes of organizing within MSIs. This flaw can be overcome by applying the theory of local and global networks to MSIs.
This paper extends scholarship on multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) in the context of corporate social responsibility in three ways. First, I outline a framework to analyze the strength of couplings between actors participating in MSIs. Characterizing an MSI as consisting of numerous local networks that are embedded in a wider global network, I argue that tighter couplings (within local networks) and looser couplings (between local networks) coexist. Second, I suggest that this coexistence of couplings enables MSIs to generate policy outcomes which address the conditions of a transnational regulatory context. I argue that MSIs' way of organizing enables them to cope with three challenges: the stability, flexibility, and legitimacy of governance. Reflecting on these challenges, the article identifies a number of problems related to MSIs' role in transnational governance. Third, I discuss the UN Global Compact as an illustrative case and examine problems and opportunities related to its stability, flexibility, and legitimacy.
Andreas Rasche (2012), "Global Policies and Local Practice: Loose and Tight Couplings in Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives", Business Ethics Quarterly 22 (4), S. 679–708.