IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Binding Dynamics of Non-Binding Governance Arrangements. The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the Cases of BP and Chevron


  • Hofferberth Matthias

    (Goethe-University Frankfurt)


While the state remains the main unit of analysis in International Relations, the emergence of transnational actors and their integration into global governance have contributed to an opening of perspectives and issues. NGOs and multinational enterprises as well as their interaction in public-private-partnerships have become popular research objects. However, these partnerships are often assessed in terms of effectiveness which leads to juxtapositioning binding and effective versus non-binding and ineffective initiatives. Considering such an either/or-logic to be of limited insight, the article argues that current research on public-private-partnerships suffers from four conceptual difficulties: (1) an underspecified concept of effectiveness, (2) a missing discussion on the yardsticks chosen for assessments, (3) a tendency to (over-)generalize individual findings and (4) underlying yet seldom reflected actor assumptions. To help engage with these difficulties, the paper conceptualizes partnerships as social contexts. Within such contexts, dynamics influence corporate identity and action and create new awareness as well as new conduct. Such a perspective allows to go beyond weighing the effectiveness of binding versus the likelihood of non-binding initiatives. The argument is illustrated by analyzing the emergence, development, and impact of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights with respect to BP and Chevron.

Suggested Citation

  • Hofferberth Matthias, 2011. "The Binding Dynamics of Non-Binding Governance Arrangements. The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the Cases of BP and Chevron," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(4), pages 1-32, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:13:y:2011:i:4:n:5

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brown Dana L & Vetterlein Antje & Roemer-Mahler Anne, 2010. "Theorizing Transnational Corporations as Social Actors: An Analysis of Corporate Motivations," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-39, April.
    2. Friedrichs, Jörg & Kratochwil, Friedrich, 2009. "On Acting and Knowing: How Pragmatism Can Advance International Relations Research and Methodology," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(04), pages 701-731, October.
    3. Moravcsik, Andrew, 1997. "Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(04), pages 513-553, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:13:y:2011:i:4:n:5. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.