Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Craig N. Murphy

Second Advisor

David Levy

Third Advisor

Jane L. Parpart


This dissertation investigates how a non-western country engages with global private governance architecture. Although the term private governance appears to suggest a transnational and international context, some authors emphasize that private governance is concentrated in specific regions, such as the industrialized world or their hosting developing countries. Little is yet known of the circumstances conditioning the participation in private governance from non-western countries. In this context, this dissertation addresses how national political structures constrain or enable the participation of actors from South Korea in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Answering these questions requires following the two global private standards as case studies - ISO 14001(Environment) and ISO 26000 (Labor) - in the context of South Korea to provide a rich empirical characterization of how global private initiatives diffuse. By contrasting local participation in the two ISO standards through political policy, state-society relations and the pattern of perception of local actors from these two cases, this dissertation will provide valuable insight into how global private environment and labor standards are locally perceived and localized comparatively. As labor market are themselves gendered institutions which reflect the socially constructed division of labor between men and women, the dissertation examines how the private labor standard enable or constrain to the employer the marginalize the Korean female labors by penetrating patriarchal and neoliberal labor reform policy. By rethinking of conventional approaches to private labor governance from the gender perspective, this dissertation aims to explore the voluntary nature of the private labor standards through the historical, cultural and structural causes of gender-based inequality. In order to explore the hegemonic struggles among the states, business, and civil society over the environmental and labor issues in Korea, this study proposes a neo-Gramscian hegemony concept to examine the changing role of states in constructing hegemony, and the unique institutional foundation of their power relations in the development of Korea’s private environmental and labor governance.