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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.

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