Regulations that govern the social and environmental impacts of global firms and markets without state enforcement are a relatively new dimension of global business regulation. The growth of such voluntary “civil regulations” reflects both the expansion of legitimate authority in the global economy outside the state and the increasing use of alternative regulatory instruments to govern firms, including self-regulation, market-based instruments, and soft laws. In response to global social activism, many firms have adopted voluntary regulatory standards to avoid additional regulation and/or to protect their reputations and brands. Activists have targeted highly visible firms and have been willing to work cooperatively with them. The most important civil regulations are multi-stockholder codes, whose governance is shared by firms and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and which rely on product and producer certifications. Such codes face the challenge of acquiring legitimacy and of persuading both firms and NGOs of the value of their standards. The emergence of civil regulation addresses but does not resolve the challenge of making global firms and markets more effectively and democratically governed.
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