In the corporate compliance and anti-corruption domains, international standard-setting is in vogue. Recent years have witnessed a flurry of new compliance standards authored by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the world’s leading private standard-setter. ISO claims to offer a more effective way to address transnational corruption risks and related compliance challenges, one that boasts the approval of a global committee of technical experts and enticingly purports to accord with international “best practices.” A number of companies and governments around the world have taken the bait, with many adopting or giving legal effect to ISO’s anti-bribery standard (ISO 37001) in particular.
This Article argues that, despite the theoretical allure of this nascent wave of standard-setting, ISO’s compliance standards are fraught with pitfalls that call into question their practical utility. In effect, companies and governments that adopt them are investing in clickbait compliance, a superficially attractive set of compliance recommendations that overpromise and are likely to underdeliver in many respects. First, a conceptual analysis of ISO 37001 illustrates that such standards are unlikely to function as desired (“clickbait functions”). Second, an examination of ISO’s growing presence in the burgeoning field of compliance reveals that supposed connections or synergies between the organization’s new standards and compliance-related laws, practices, and trends do not meaningfully exist and may not fully materialize (“clickbait connections”). The Article concludes by discussing how ISO’s disjointed, siloed organizational system exacerbates these issues before proposing systemic reforms that would promote a more evidence-based approach to ISO compliance, an approach that may curtail—but will certainly not eliminate — “clickbait” concerns.
Heaston, William R.
"Clickbait Compliance and Transnational Corruption,"
University of Dayton Law Review: Vol. 48:
2, Article 2.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udlr/vol48/iss2/2