Transparency in Transnational Sustainability Governance: A Multivariate Analysis of Regulatory Standard-Setting Programs
32 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 2017
Beginning in the early 1990s, non-state actors have taken over a wide range of governance functions that used to be the prerogative of states and international organizations. In the field of International Relations and related disciplines, this has intensified debates about a lack of accountability and legitimacy in global governance. Reviewing this debate and the role transparency can play in mitigating the problem, this article uses a new data set to analyze the issue empirically. Examining a sample of 143 regulatory standard-setting (RSS) programs in the field of transnational sustainability governance, we show that “deep transparency” – i.e. the disclosure of salient information – remains a problem in this domain. However, there are also RSS programs that are highly transparent in their practices. Using a multivariate analysis, we investigate the internal and external determinants of these inter-program variations. We find a systematic relationship between inclusiveness and transparency – although no evidence for the conventional wisdom that single-actor business programs are per se less credible. Turning to the external determinants of transparency two findings stand out: First, instead of a “ratcheting-up effect”, we observe a race-to-the-bottom dynamic between competing RSS programs. Second, our results confirm arguments about the positive influence of meta-governance on transparency.
Keywords: Transparency, accountability, legitimacy, transnational governance, sustainability, transnational regulation
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