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The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition by John Boli, Frank J. Lechner

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36 ISO and the Infrastructure for a Global Market

Craig N. Murphy and JoAnne Yates

ISO's leaders have, at times, spoken about the organization as if it were almost part of the United Nations (UN) family, but current practice is to call it “a non-governmental organization [NGO] that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors … [M]any of its member[s] … are part of the governmental structure of their countries … [O]ther members have their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by national partnerships of industry associations.” About two-thirds of ISO's 158 member organizations are part of their country's central government; the rest are NGOs.

ISO conducts almost all of its work through technical committees that focus on specific topics. Each of its about 230 committees and 500 subcommittees has a rotating secretariat provided by one of the ISO member bodies. The committees conduct much of their discussion electronically and when they meet face-to-face, they usually do so only for a day or two at a time. In 2008, about one-third of ISO's technical committees and subcommittees met in more than 90 cities spread across 34 countries and six continents.

On top of the large committee structure rests a 150-person secretariat in Geneva, one much smaller than those of most of the UN Specialized Agencies based in the same city. Nonetheless, the vastness and complexity of ISO's decentralized structure means that the number of people actively working on ...

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