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EXPLORING THE FORMAL AND INFORMAL ROLES OF REGULATORY

INTERMEDIARIES IN TRANSNATIONAL MULTI-STAKEHOLDER


REGULATION
Call for papers for a special issue proposal in Regulation & Governance
Deadline: December 1st, 2016
Guest editors
Sbastien Mena, Cass Business School, City, University of London
Luc Brs, Laval University
Marie-Laure Djelic, Science Po Paris
Overview
Following recent developments in research on regulatory intermediaries, and in
particular a forthcoming special issue in The Annals of the American Academy of
Political and Social Science by Abbott, Levi-Faur and Snidal (2017), we propose a
special issue extending this line of research. In particular, we invite contributions
exploring the role of intermediaries in transnational multi-stakeholder regulation (e.g.
Mena & Palazzo, 2012) that devise rules for responsible' business conduct. We are
interested in the multiplicity of roles, formal and especially informal, that intermediaries
play in transnational multi-stakeholder regulation for business conduct.
Special issue proposal
The shift to 'regulatory capitalism' (Levi-Faur, 2005) marked the start of profound
changes for regulatory dynamics worldwide (Abbott & Snidal, 2009; Djelic & SahlinAndersson, 2006). Once developed mostly by states in a 'command and control' fashion,
regulations for business conduct are now largely initiated and negotiated through multiactor platforms, where states may or may not be involved; this reflects the move
towards transnational multi-stakeholder regulation (Bartley, 2007). In these kinds of
regulatory initiatives, private, public and not-for-profit actors co-construct rules and
monitoring mechanisms that apply then, in part, to themselves (Miller & Rose, 1993;
Scherer & Palazzo, 2011).
In contrast to more traditional forms of state-centered government and regulatory
initiatives where rule-makers (governmental actors) directly devise laws and regulations
that rule-takers must adopt, one striking feature of transnational multi-stakeholder
regulation has been the intermediary roles of a third category of actors in the regulatory
process rule-intermediaries as they have come to be called (Abbott, Levi-Faur, &
Snidal, 2015). Regulatory intermediaries can be broadly defined as "as any actor who
acts in conjunction with a regulator to affect the behaviour of a target. The intermediary
is a go-between, whose presence necessarily makes regulation (or some aspects of
regulation) indirect, as the intermediary stands between the regulator and its
target" (Abbott et al., 2015: 5).
As transnational multi-stakeholder regulation cannot rely on the "monopoly of force or
violence" associated with nation-states and hence lacks strong mechanisms of
enforcement and monitoring it has to devise new mechanisms and processes. One
such method is to rely on regulatory intermediaries who are tasked to monitor, if not
ensure, the adoption of and compliance with these rules. Intermediaries, usually nongovernmental actors, are diverse and play different roles in this enforcement and
monitoring process (Grabosky, 2013). Typically, NGOs, and sometimes consulting firms
or expert groups, perform monitoring duties in association with multi-stakeholder

regulatory platforms to verify that rules are indeed applied adequately (Gereffi, GarciaJohnson, & Sasser, 2001). It is important to underscore that these monitoring actors are
also often directly involved in the initiative or platform they 'work' for (i.e. they are
likely to also have a say in decision- and rule-making).
While some research has already yielded insights into the formal role played by
regulatory intermediaries in the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of
rules (Abbott et al., 2017), there is still much to explore. Existing research has tended to
focus on the role of intermediaries once regulation is in place, but we know much less
about the role of intermediaries in the process leading to the emergence, construction,
and legitimization of multi-stakeholder regulation for business conduct. In particular,
we do not have a thorough understanding of the more informal, unexpected, or even
insidious roles that regulatory intermediaries may play when it comes to impeding or
fostering the development of private regulation on different issues. For example, Brs &
Gond (2014) have shown how consultants in the corporate social responsibility market,
as they strive to develop their business, are simultaneously fostering and monitoring the
adoption and interpretation of private rules through various normative tools, such as
rankings or environmental impact assessments. Others have shown how activist groups
can leverage multi-stakeholder initiatives to coerce rule-takers into adopting more
stringent rules (King, 2014; Mena & Waeger, 2014). Think tanks, understood as
regulatory intermediaries, can foster an ideological agenda and may sometimes prevent
the creation of formal regulation by pushing the idea that self-regulation, or even no
regulation, is not only sufficient but also the right solution (Djelic, 2015; King & Lenox,
2000).
In this special issue, we invite investigations of the multiplicity of roles of regulatory
intermediaries, particularly on the more informal, behind-the-scenes, unexpected,
unintended or insidious work that they perform and how this affects the regulatory
process of transnational private regulation. Such work is currently underexplored and
not well understood. While Abbott et al.'s (2015) model of intermediary participation in
regulation provides a compelling starting point, we still lack a comprehensive
understanding of the informal work of regulatory intermediaries and how this work
affects public and private regulations. We therefore call for contributions on the
multiplicity of roles of regulatory intermediaries, including, but not limited to, the
following questions:
What are the drivers that instigate collective action towards informal regulatory work, e.g. by
pressure groups or activists
Can we develop a typology of regulatory intermediaries that reflects the different types of
formal and informal work they perform?
How do the design and regulatory processes unique to each multi-stakeholder regulatory
initiative affect the work of regulatory intermediaries not involved in the initiative?
What types of hidden agendas do some regulatory intermediaries pursue and how does this
affect the regulatory process?
How does the interplay between regulatory intermediaries formal and informal roles
influence regulations?
Is there a need for a more democratic control over the work of regulatory intermediaries
(particularly of the informal kind) and how could/should such control be designed?

How do intermediaries informally influence the scope and the reach of regulation?
How does the formal and informal work of regulatory intermediaries institutionalize or
impede the institutionalization of private regulation in different sectors?
When does the (intentional or unintentional) work of intermediaries lead to public rather than
private regulation? For example, sustainability reporting guidelines from the GRI are now
legal requirements for government-owned firms in Denmark and Sweden (see
Glasbergen, 2011). When is this expected, and when is it not?
How and when do regulatory intermediaries collaborate and compete?

Call for papers and timeline


We invite short papers for consideration in this special issue by December 1st, 2016.
Short papers should comprise 3,000 words excluding the abstract (150 words),
references, figures and tables. Please send your short paper
to: sebastien.mena.1@city.ac.uk.
The guest editors will perform a first review of the short papers and select the most
promising to include in the special issue. Authors whose short papers are selected will
have to submit a full paper by June 6th, 2017. Please follow Regulation &
Governance formatting guidelines. Please also note that the regular review process
of Regulation & Governance will proceed. Therefore, papers can still be rejected
through the usual review process.
Please contact the guest editors if you have any
questions: sebastien.mena.1@city.ac.uk, Luc.Bres@fsa.ulaval.ca or marielaure.djelic@s
ciencespo.fr.
References
Abbott, K., & Snidal, D. 2009. The governance triangle: Regulatory standards institutions and the
shadow of the state. In W. Mattli, & N. Woods (Eds.), The politics of global regulation: 44-88.
Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Abbott, K. W., Levi-Faur, D., & Snidal, D. 2015. Intermediaries in Regulatory Governance, SASE
27th Annual Conference. The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.
Abbott, K. W., Levi-Faur, D., & Snidal, D. 2017. Regulatory Intermediaries in the Age of Governance
[Special issue]. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,
forthcoming.
Bartley, T. 2007. Institutional Emergence in an Era of Globalization: The Rise of Transnational Private
Regulation of Labor and Environmental Conditions. American Journal of Sociology, 113: 297-351.
Brs, L., & Gond, J.-P. 2014. The visible hand of consultants in the construction of the markets for
virtue: Translating issues, negotiating boundaries and enacting responsive regulations. Human
Relations, 67(11): 1347-1382.
Djelic, M.-L. 2015. Spreading Ideas to Change the World: Inventing and Institutionalizing the
Neoliberal Think Tank. Working paper.
Djelic, M.-L., & Sahlin-Andersson, K. 2006. Introduction: A world of governance: The rise of
transnational regulation. In M.-L. Djelic, & K. Sahlin-Andersson (Eds.), Transnational Governance:
Institutional Dynamics of Regulation: 1-30. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gereffi, G., Garcia-Johnson, R., & Sasser, E. 2001. The NGO-industrial complex. Foreign Policy,
125: 56-65.
Glasbergen, P. 2011. Mechanisms of private meta-governance: An analysis of global private
governance for sustainable development. International Journal of Strategic Business Alliances,
2: 189-206.
Grabosky, P. 2013. Beyond Responsive Regulation: The expanding role of nonstate actors in the
regulatory process. Regulation & Governance, 7(1): 114-123.
King, A. A., & Lenox, M. J. 2000. Industry self-regulation without sanctions: The chemical industry's
Responsible Care program. Academy of Management Journal, 43: 698-716.
King, B. 2014. Reputational Dynamics of Private Regulation. Socio-Economic Review, 12(1): 200206.

Levi-Faur, D. 2005. The global diffusion of regulatory capitalism. The Annals of the American
Academy of Political and Social Science, 598(1): 12-32.
Mena, S., & Palazzo, G. 2012. Input and Output Legitimacy of Multi-Stakeholder
Initiatives. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(3): 529-559.
Mena, S., & Waeger, D. 2014. Activism for corporate responsibility: Conceptualizing private
regulation opportunity structures. Journal of Management Studies, 51(7): 1091-1117.
Miller, P., & Rose, N. 1993. Governing economic life. In M. Gane, & T. Johnson (Eds.), Foucault's
new domains. London: Routledge.
Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. 2011. The New Political Role of Business in a Globalized World: A
Review of A New Perspective on CSR and its Implications for the Firm, Governance, and
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-Dr. Sbastien Mena
Faculty of Management, Cass Business School, City, University of London
Room 4065, 106 Bunhill Row, London EC1Y 8TZ, UK
Email: sebastien.mena.1@city.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)20 7040 8176
Web: http://www.cass.city.ac.uk/experts/S.Mena