Engineering Rules: ‘Good Governance’ According to Standards Movements since 1880

44th Käte Hamburger Lecture

Monday, 14th June 2021 (18:00, CEST) | Online Lecture via Zoom

Private, voluntary standards shape almost everything we use, from screw threads to shipping containers to e-readers. They have been critical to every major change in the world economy for more than a century, including the rise of global manufacturing and the ubiquity of the Internet. This lecture featured JoAnne Yates and Craig Murphy, whose book ‘Engineering Rules. Global Standard Setting since 1880’, traces the standard-setting system's evolution through time, revealing a process with an astonishingly pervasive, if rarely noticed, impact on all of our lives. Drawing on archival materials from three continents, including newly uncovered documents contributed by key standard setters, interviews, and direct observation of recent web-related standard setting, Yates and Murphy described the ideals that sparked the standardization movement and the ways its leaders tried to realize those ideals. The movement’s focus has always been on a process for creating rules that will be followed globally, a quintessential form of 'good governance'. For the early standardizers this involved laborious, consensus-based decision-making among experts representing different stakeholders, a kind of “deliberative technocracy” that also had democratic pretensions. Recently, groups as diverse as progressive environmentalists and the World Economic Forum’s 'Global Redesign Initiative' have advocated intergovernmental rulemaking with processes that claim to follow the engineering standard-setters’ governance norms, which makes their history especially timely.



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Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Dr Jens Steffek
Professor of Transnational Governance, Technical University Darmstadt


44th Käte Hamburger Lecture
Engineering Rules: ‘Good Governance’ According to Standards Movements since 1880

Dr Craig N. Murphy
Betty Freyhof Johnson ’44 Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College

Dr JoAnne Yates
Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management, Emerita and Professor Post Tenure of Work and Organization Studies and Managerial Communication, MIT Sloan School of Management

Discussant:  Dr Sigrid Quack
Professor of Sociology and Managing Director of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research, UDE

Moderator:  Dr Jens Steffek

Q&A with the Audience

Concluding Remarks and End of the Lecture


Lecture Duet

Lecture programme and concept note