Prescriptive lobbying, the primacy of the norm in companies

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Standards, regardless of their scope (local, national or international) are indispensable mechanisms in all economic sectors of activity. Unlike legislative standards, voluntary standards are a valuable lobbying mechanism. They allow companies to anticipate competitive constraints since they are written by the players concerned and without any constraints of application. On the occasion of the appointment of Muriel Lacroix as New Aquitaine Delegate for the French Association of Normalization (AFNOR) at the beginning of June, Bordeaux companies must be able to further integrate voluntary standardization into their business strategy. In the race for innovation that companies are engaged in, it is indeed imperative to make its demands and influence heard, this is what the adoption of a normative strategy allows.

Standards, essential tools for businesses

In order to see more clearly, the terms “standard” and “standard” must be distinguished. A standard must be standardised in a national or international body independent of industry, while a standard is a repository established by a private company. That’s what “voluntary application” means. Voluntary standards are also the product of economic constraints, the fruit of compromises. This is what we can call “normative lobbying” because any economic actor can submit a draft standard. This proposal is then forwarded to an existing or to be created standards commission, where all stakeholders of the future voluntary standard meet. The project is, as needed, treated at national, European or global level. Once developed, the project goes into the validation phase. A public inquiry is then organized for the sake of transparency. After observations and modifications, the standards institute conducts the approval, i.e. validation. The whole process takes one to three years. Voluntary standards are then reviewed periodically.

Standards are also commercial facilitators because they allow for better circulation of products in a market that can be compatible and comparable. For example, according to a study conducted by BIPE in 2016 and 2017, companies involved in a voluntary standardization process benefit from a 20% increase in turnover. Voluntary standards also contribute to the competitiveness and international openness of companies that choose to apply them. They also provide company executives with an answer to questions related to the reliability of the customer/supplier relationship as well as risk control and security.

AFNOR at the service of New Aquitaine economic actors

Companies are not alone in conducting normative lobbying, they can be accompanied by structures such as the French Association of Standards, which are notably standards-writing bodies. Present on the national territory thanks to 12 regional delegations, the French Association of Standardization (AFNOR) proposes activities to develop standards and implement them. Depending on how a standard is applied, the consequences for a company will not be the same in terms of the organization of services or means of production. AFNOR also leaves a very important footprint on national and international territory as it represents France with European and international standards organisations. This allows France to display a common and coherent position in terms of normative strategy.

At the regional level, the French Association of Standardization ensures the representativeness and defense of the interests of local economic actors, in the service of the general interest. Located in Mérignac and Limoges, AFNOR takes root in the regional ecosystem to help develop an influence strategy. Since last June, Muriel Lacroix has succeeded Stéphane Mathieu as regional delegate of AFNOR France. Specializing in consulting training and subscription solutions to voluntary standards, Muriel Lacroix wants to develop collective support programs for companies in the New Aquitaine region, including the Silver Economy. The AFNOR method deployed in the regional territory is that of information monitoring (benchmark) and collective intelligence to promote the sharing of good practices.

Standards are central keys to the development of competition and the development of markets. They condition market access and business competitiveness. At the regional level, New Aquitaine supports voluntary standardization as a tool for companies in the Bordeaux territory to gain competence and competitiveness. Voluntary standardization allows companies to take an omniscient view as long as all economic sectors are concerned. For a company, putting in place a normative strategy allows to anticipate the application of future standards that govern the business sectors, in order to avoid any clauses unfavorable to your activity.

Justine ANGIBAUD

Sources:

Official website of the International Organization for Standardization
“Developing a strategic international normative influence for France,” Claude Revel, 31 January 2013

Guide to Normative Lobbying “Make Your Voice Heard,” Testimony 2018, Direccte New Aquitaine

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