Geographic Variations in the Early Diffusion of Corporate Voluntary Standards: Comparing ISO14001 and the Global Compact
Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning A, Vol 42, No. 2, pp. 347-365, 2010
43 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2008 Last revised: 13 Jun 2010
Date Written: May 18, 2009
Despite their availability to firms across the world, uptake of global voluntary standards has proceeded unevenly across countries over time. In this article, we seek to provide new insights into how geography shapes these spatio-temporal variations, focusing on two leading examples of codified voluntarism: ISO14001 and the Global Compact (GC). Advancing on previous quantitative studies, which have analyzed domestic and non-domestic influences separately, we examine how the internal attributes of place “condition” the influence of transnational spatial interdependencies. We find that higher levels of ISO14001 certification in other economies are more likely to spillover (via transnational linkages) into higher domestic uptake of the standard in wealthier economies, while domestic receptivity to the influence of higher GC adoptions abroad is greater in more democratic countries. Another important advance on previous studies is that we examine the influence of a larger number of measures of transnational economic linkage. Providing evidence of “trading-up” and “investing-up” dynamics, we show that higher densities of ISO14001 certificates and GC participants in a country’s export and inward FDI partners is associated with higher levels of domestic uptake of the respective standard. We also find tentative evidence of “visiting-up” dynamics associated with the cross-border movement of businesspeople.
Keywords: Global Compact, ISO14001, diffusion, globalization, corporate responsibility
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