Thursday, February 28, 2013

Part 27: The U.S. National Contact Point: Corporate Social Responsibility Between Nationalism, Internationalism and Private Markets Based Globalization

 (Pix Source HERE)

This Blog Essay site devotes every February to a series of integrated but short essays on a single theme. For 2013 this site introduces a new theme: The U.S. National Contact Point: Corporate Social Responsibility Between Nationalism, Internationalism and Private Markets Based Globalization.


This series builds on some ideas I have been working through for a number of years relating to a fundamental shift in the approaches to corporate governance that broaden the ambit of corporate governance issues from a singular focus on internal governance (the relationships among officers, shareholders and directors) to one that includes corporate behavior and the standards by which officers, directors and shareholders exercise their respective governance authority. This shift also changes the scope of what is understood as "law" to be applied to issues of corporate governance, from one principally focused on national law to governance norms that may be sourced in the declarations and other governance interventions of public and private international bodies. Lastly, it appears to point to an evolution to the role of the state from the principal source of standards and enforcer of law to a vehicle for the implementation of international standards  in which enforcement power is left to global market actors--principally consumers and investors function of the decisions of global actors.  All of this is inconsistent with traditional notions of the role of law, the scope of corporate governance and the nature of corporate social responsibility int he United States.  The extent to which the United States participates in the construction of these autonomous international systems may suggest the direction in which government policy may be moving away from the traditional consensus of corporate responsibility to something perhaps entirely new.

The examination of the US NCP has suggested a pattern of behavior that has been consistent across Republican and Democratic Administrations despite the well publicized re-imagining of the US NCP in 2011. (Parts 10-16). But is the conduct of the U.S. NCP and the policy premises this conduct applies unusual in this respect, or does the U.S. NCP reflect a common OECD NCP culture? This question was considered by examining the reports of the annual meetings of the NCs between 2001 and 2012 (Posts 17-22).  That examination suggested  that the United States position reflected a conventional and conservative position, but one shared by a number of other state NCPs.  The United States remains among the leaders of the NCP clique that views the MNE Guidelines project as inter-governmental in essence, that views with suspicion the development of MNE Guidelines principles through any judicialized framework or that might suggest a remedial or fact finding function for the NCP.  Lastly, the United States vigorously represents a view, not shared by other leading NCP states, that bifurcates enterprise governance rules between a domestic legal regime dominated by the laws of the home states where an enterprise is organized, and an internationalized soft law hortatory regimes, grounded in the MNE Guidelines, as a vehicle for foreign relations and the extraterritorial harmonization of practice.

This post and the one that follows provides simple charts to suggest the consequences of these developments for the specific instance function of NCPs.    
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)


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