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Having your cake and eating it too: Toward a deeper understanding of the potential of self-regulation to address private and public goals

The purpose of this thesis is to help develop a deeper understanding of the potential of self-regulation in fields where private and public interests converge. The focus of the research was on [i] the development of standards for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) by the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 207 (ISO/TC207); [ii] applications of EMS in environmental regulation; and [iii] future developments in the area. ISO/TC207' s vision statement promises; the worldwide acceptance and use of the IS014000 series of standards ... will provide an effective means to improve the environmental performance of organizations and their products, facilitate world trade, and ultimately contribute to sustainable development(1993). The private interest goals in this statement are; acceptance and use of the ISO 14000 standards, and facilitation of world trade. The other two goals - improvement in environmental performance, and sustainable development (SD) - both have significant public good aspects (Bosselman, 1995). The application of voluntaristic, private initiatives to public good goals presents some problems. Conventional thinking in this area tends to assume a tension between 'public' and 'private' perspectives, and questions can be asked about whether self-interest can in practice be adapted to public ends (Korten, 1995). The thesis reports on a journey of research in three parts. The first part outlines the results of an investigation into the development of the IS014001 standard, which is based on my involvement in ISO/TC207, representing New Zealand. The analysis highlights the problems that TC207 had integrating private and public interest issues. It is found that TC207 processes and outputs are informed by a narrow interpretation of EMS potential, and reflect a strong bias toward short-term private interests. The second part reports on an investigation into broader contexts of regulation and self-regulation. The discussion starts with the analytical framework from Streeck & Schmitter (1985), and develops the 'skeleton' of a novel conceptual model of regulatory structure. This is used to analyse forms of environmental regulation and the applications of EMS-related initiatives. The third part is devoted to developing the model using the results of an empirical programme which was based on interviews with actors in environmental regulation in NZ, and participant-observation in the ISO/TC207 strategic revision of 2001-2003. The 'edified' model is employed to help address the issue of the potential of self-regulation in private-public convergences. The structural aspect of the model indicates promising regulatory configurations, and is used to suggest that principles of participation, balance and harmony may also be useful. The process aspect of the model is utilized to make suggestions for the conception, creation and management of self and semi-self regulatory initiatives in areas of possible pubic-private dichotomy. Overall, it is found that EMS is a sophisticated and multifaceted form of social regulation, but that this is not always recognized in practice. It is argued that voluntarism has not only very high potential in mediating the public and private, but is an essential tool for addressing problems where the public and private interests traditionally clash. The final part of the thesis reflects on the artifice involved in demarcating between 'public' and 'private' interests in regulatory praxis, and concludes that in addressing really big and important issues, such distinctions might hinder, rather than help the emergence of solutions.
Type of thesis
Allen, B. G. (2004). Having your cake and eating it too: Toward a deeper understanding of the potential of self-regulation to address private and public goals (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13211
The University of Waikato
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