Increasing fragmentation in the global economy has been accompanied by a rise in the use of private standards. Technical standards created by companies and standards-writing organizations facilitate coordination and enable elaborate divisions of labor of the sort evident in the electronics industry. Standards are also used for control. Private standards schemes specify rules of behavior and develop mechanisms to monitor and enforce them. Schemes address issues such as product safety, environmental and social impacts, and sustainability. They are developed and adopted by many different actors and actor coalitions, including businesses, NGOs, and governments. They respond to the regulatory challenges created by global fragmentation, but also use the opportunities offered by interdependencies within global value chains to enable cross-border control over how products are produced and their social and environmental impacts. The multiplicity of actors and interests involved in standards development leads to the proliferation of standards and competition between them.
Leif Atle Beisland, Roy Mersland, and Trond Randøy
Over the last couple of decades, the microfinance industry has enjoyed considerable positive public attention; however, more recently, the industry has been criticized for not really “helping the poor” and practicing low standards of transparency. In this chapter we discuss how transparency and disclosure work in relation to the key stakeholders in the microfinance industry: customers, donors, and owners. We provide a framework for assessing the demand for information: the need for transparency—and the corresponding supply of information: what is disclosed. We highlight current, or potential, market failures and their implication for public policy among customers, donors, and microbank owners.