Dissertation Defense: Biou Kerina Wang

Name: Biou Kerina Wang 

Title of Dissertation: How do Transnational Private Regulations Emerge? A Causal Process Tracing Study on the Open Contracting Partnership 


The phenomenon of transnational private regulations (TPRs) has attracted significant scholarly attention recently. Private actors are increasingly moving away from purely serving as policy influencers to becoming policy makers, which as a result has transformed the traditional concepts of governance and authority. The emergence of privately created rules across borders has been studied disparately, and not much has been done to understand the relationships between various forces in an integrated manner. This research disentangles the conceptual complexity embedded in transnational private regulations and contributes to the growing body of literature that “stretches” and adapts existing public policy making frameworks designed for national settings to examine global governance phenomena. With the construction of a causal mechanism and seven working propositions adapted from the Multiple Streams (MS) framework, I conduct a within-case process tracing study on the emergence of a revelatory and information-rich transnational private regulator – the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), an initiative that employs a two-pronged regulatory strategy to set global norms and principles in public procurement transparency and participation and promotes a technical disclosure and data standard for voluntary adoption. Empirical tests on a large body of diagnostic evidence are performed to detect and analyze the observable fingerprints surfaced from OCP’s three-stage development trajectory over the course of 10 years, with data from close to 1000 pieces of document records from three different sources, as well as interviews with almost all founding members of OCP, and organizational elites from leading international organizations in the open government space. I confirm four out of the seven working propositions which leads to an assessment at the aggregate level that does not confirm the causal mechanism as a whole. New discoveries are made about the interactions among different conceptual perspectives that shape a TPR’s emergence. And insights are provided on debates around standardization versus regulatory pluralism, considerations of private authority and legitimacy, as well as the development of a multi-layered institutional environment that empowers and constrains private policy entrepreneurs in transnational policy making. For further theory building, this research suggests that the MS causal mechanism may be enhanced by incorporating certain elements of the advocacy coalition framework, which can be compatible concepts especially for studies of TPRs. Specifically, the gluing effect of policy coalitions in the policy subsystem and the harmonization of the global policy community may be critical factors during a ripe window for policy changes. 


Dissertation Director (Advocate): 

Dr. Sanjay Pandey, Shapiro Chair and Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration 

Committee Member (Reader):

Dr. Michael J. Worth, Professor of Nonprofit Management, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

Committee Member (Reader):

Dr. Christopher Carrigan, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration


Dr. Joseph Cordes, Professor of Economics, Public Policy and Public Administration, and International Affairs, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration


Dr. Alex Ingrams, Assistant Professor, Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University 

Chair of the Formal Proceedings:

Dr. Kathryn Newcomer, Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration


Date: October 13, 2021

Time: 1pm-3pm EST 

Location: Room 601Z, 805 21st St NW, Washington DC