Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 863–878 | Cite as

Firm self-regulation through international certifiable standards: determinants of symbolic versus substantive implementation

  • Petra ChristmannEmail author
  • Glen Taylor


International certifiable management standards that have been advocated as a governance mechanism for firm self-regulation of corporate social responsibility issues are effective only if certified firms comply with the requirements of the standards. Our empirical analysis shows that ISO-certified firms in China strategically select their level of compliance depending on customer preferences, customer monitoring, and expected sanctions by customers. Our findings have implications for the effectiveness of a global system of self-regulation based on certifiable standards, research on certifiable standards, and for practicing managers who require suppliers to obtain standard certifications.


firm-self regulation international standards symbolic adoption 



We gratefully acknowledge the financial support for completing the research leading up to this paper received from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Darden Foundation, the Batten Institute of the Darden School of Business Administration, University of Virginia, and a Faculty Research Grant from Rutgers Business School – Newark and New Brunswick. We would like to thank the China Quality Certification Center (CQC) for their help with the data collection for this study. We would like to thank Margaret Cording and Jim Wade, the guest editor Donald Siegel, two anonymous reviewers and participants at the JIBS Three Lenses Workshop in Phoenix, AZ, for insightful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. All errors and omissions remain our responsibility.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers Business School – Newark & New Brunswick, Rutgers UniversityNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Sykes College of Business, University of TampaTampaUSA

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