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Tony Porter

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international finance; Private Governance; technical systems; transnational governance


Most transnational regulatory problems involve technical systems: extended sets of productive connections between humans, organized knowledge, and material objects. The functioning and relations between transnational business governance (TBG) schemes in any particular issue area are usually shaped by these technical systems. These technical systems and the material world that they interact with are not simply exogenous environments for TBG schemes. Individual TBG schemes can enhance their power and influence by expanding their function in a technical system, by incorporating the material aspects of the system into their activities, or by producing the system’s technical knowledge. I hypothesize that where a robust technical system exists, the degree of integration and the need for coordination of the activities it involves will mean that in most cases that technical system will be coordinated overall by only one TBG scheme. There are two exceptions: where technical systems overlap, or where the system is so weak that competitive pressures outweigh the factors contributing to specialization. The article develops these themes by drawing on theories that have focused on the social and political aspects of technical systems. The article identifies the contributions and limits of these theories and of a focus on technical systems in analyzing interactions among TBG schemes. The relevance of the theoretical points is assessed with regard to the TBG schemes that are active in global finance.