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The impact of meta-standardization upon standards convergence: the case of the international accounting standard for off-balance-sheet financing

  • Matthias Thiemann

Analyses of transnational governance formation point to the destabilizing effects transnational standard setters have upon national institutional configurations. Isomorphic pressures, it is argued, lead to the standardization of procedures used and actors involved in standard setting processes. What is not clear, however, is to what extent this meta-standardization increases the chances for convergence of national with transnational standards. This article explores this question for the case of the international accounting standard for off-balance-sheet financing in the Netherlands, France and Germany. It argues that the reconfiguration of domestic governance architectures had a decisive impact on convergence processes. Counter-intuitively, copying goals, membership and procedures of the transnational, private International Accounting Standards Committee limited the chances of rule convergence, as it threatened to deinstitutionalize the standard-setting role of an important national champion of rule-convergence, the banking regulator. The institutional template developed at the transnational level created actor-mismatch at the national level between those formulating and those implementing the rules, thereby weakening the coalition for rule change. A strong coalition, however, is needed to overcome vested business interests that favor convergence with transnational templates for legitimacy gains at the same time that they oppose convergence to contentious rules that limit their business activities.

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* Goethe Universitaet Frankfurt, Grueneburgplatz 1, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Tel.: +496979836676, e-mail:
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