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The role of expert global agencies in the emerging legitimacy of network self-governance


Global organizations are shaping social practices at all levels. Our paper deals with the impact of transnational organizations (namely OECD, G7's Financial Taskforce, ...) on the social practices of firms. We take the example of service firms in the Internet field. We observe a specific tension between the regulation, sponsored by Knowledge experts, and the self-governance, championed by network organizations. Social practice responds to Expertise in a surprising way. Our case study aims at enriching your research program, at the crossroads between Globalization and Expertise. One of the most striking phenomena of the past decade has been the internationalisation of service firms (Tersen and Bricout, 1996). Previously considered “un-exportable” (Segal-Horn, 1993), they have proven day after day that they have the necessary characteristics to undertake an international development, and even a globalization of their offering systems (Vandermerwe, 1989 ; Campbell and Verbeke, 1994 ; Gadrey, 1994 ;). Retail banking and financial services are remarkable illustrations of this phenomenon (Michalet, 1985 ; Andreff, 1995). And bank cards in the first place. However, management scholars have been slow in reacting to this challenge. Focused on industry (and surprisingly enough on the automotive industry), the scholars have rather neglected the emerging field of international service firms. This Research gap has motivated our project on the international deployment of services. The field study we have selected is relative to the bank card organizations. This industry illustrates the functioning of service firms as political institutions. A striking example relates to the emergence and development of international standards bodies, specifically in the area of Internet payments. We are faced here with the construction of a transnational regulation. The detailed case study we present and interpret is the SET scheme of Internet security and its localizations in multiple countries of operation. Interoperability is questioned in the context of industry globalization. The role and behaviour of transnational agencies such as Cybercomm are scrutinized. One of the originalities of our paper lies also in its epistemology and methodology. After a phase of interpretation of case data through the translation theory (Callon, 1986 ; Latour, 1989; Czarniawska, 1996; Sahlin-Andersson, 1996), we undertake a step of “framework” construction (Porter, 1991; Claveau, Martinet and Tannery, 1998; Folger and Turillo, 1999; Tsoukas, 1996), in order to offer managers an “ex ante” strategic decision tool. The translation school seems to offer a sensitivity for hybrid methodology (content and process), very useful for the analysis of transnational firms. The introduction of the notion of “actant non humain”, the technical objects which build socio-technical networks, has enormous potential in management science. This concept includes all the stakeholders of transnational networks of standardization. We have then started with the interpretation of case data with translation theory concepts We present detailed case studies in the area of transnational bankcard networks. For example a coalition between banks to create a de facto standard for transnational electronic payment security on the Internet. The case study is eye-opening. After a step of protecting its political interests and well-known technological solutions, the coalition understands that its mission becomes a matter of life and death for its members: brand new currency has been invented on the Web and one could develop business and monetary transactions without the banks! This interpretative stage, while broadening our horizon and the relevance of our observations, has taught us much on the transnational mechanisms of regulation and standardization (participation in ISO meetings ; creation of proprietary bodies ; lobbying,...).But also on the « translation » steps regarding these transnational organizations. However, an additional step has to be added to this interpretative step. A step of “framework construction” (Porter, 1991, 95). The aim is to help managers of the transnational firms involved in regulations and standardization to anticipate the evolutions and make relevant decisions. The “framework” has three distinctive characteristics : the ability to help conception, the ability to help conceive problems « ex ante », and the ability to facilitate collective conception of strategic manoeuvers (Claveau, Martinet et Tannery, 1998, 70 ; David, 1998, 44). This paper brings twofold a contribution. On one hand, it enriches the interpretation of a very important, peculiar and potentially generic research object, through the lenses of the translation theory. On the other hand, it has key managerial implications regarding « political » strategies with regard to positioning as a regulatory institution. Discussion follows on the consequences of these agencies' activities for business enterprises
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hal-00364169 , version 1 (25-02-2009)


  • HAL Id : hal-00364169 , version 1


Paul-Marc Collin. The role of expert global agencies in the emerging legitimacy of network self-governance. 22th EGOS Colloquium of European Group on Organization Studies - 2006, Jun 2006, Bergen, Norway. ⟨hal-00364169⟩
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