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Global regulation of the knowledge-based economy: The rise of standards in educational services
Travaux de science politique, Université de Lausanne
This article examines the extent and limits of non-state forms of authority in international relations. It analyses how the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure for the tradability of services in a global knowledge-based economy relies on informal regulatory practices for adjustment of ICT-related skills. Companies and associations provide training and certification programmes as part of a growing market for educational services setting their own standards. The existing literature on non-conventional forms of authority in the global political economy has emphasised that the consent of actors subject to informal rules and explicit or implicit state recognition remains crucial for the effectiveness of those new forms of power. However, analyses based on a limited sample of actors tend toward a narrow understanding of the issues and fail to fully explore the differentiated space in which non-state authority is emerging. This paper examines the form of authority underpinning the global knowledge-based economy within the broader perspective of the issues likely to be standardised by technical ICT specification, the wide range of actors involved, and the highly differentiated space where standards become authoritative. The empirical findings highlight the role of different private actors in establishing international educational norms in this field. They also pinpoint the limits of profit-oriented standard-settings, notably with regard to generic norms.
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