Discussion Papers

Annette Hillebrand, Alexander Kohlstedt, Sonia Strube Martins

Selbstregulierung bei Standardisierungsprozessen am Beispiel von Mobile Number Portability
Nr. 266 / Juli 2005


The efficient organization of standardization processes is of high political and economic relevance. This applies not least to the increasingly complex issue of interconnection and numbering. In view of the multiplicity of the participants and their interest in a rapid and lasting standardization in many countries self-regulation becomes generally accepted as a principle of organization. In contrast to the imperative regulatory concept self-regulation (or co-regulation) defines a concept that allows actors to set up substantial industry standards or codes of conduct by themselves. In the optimum case this results in a consentable, stable and in the international competition successful standard as well as lower transaction costs.

The accomplished analysis of self-regulation regimes regarding mobile number portability (MNP) proves that success is above all obtained if the actors share homogeneous interests to a large extent. This is, however, not always the case in number portability. In particular the market leaders fear to lose customers to other service providers because of MNP. The market power of some parties therefore can cause delays in the self-regulation process due to blockade strategies. Then it is important how a self-regulation process can be steered by the national regulatory authority using control and sanction mechanisms.

This thesis is proved in particular by the functioning of the self-regulation regime in Australia . There, the embedding of co-regulation into an overall organisational structure in politics is crucial to its success. On the other hand, an analysis of the less efficiently working AKNN (Working group for technical and operational questions of numbering and interconnection) in Germany clearly shows the problem of heterogeneous interests for consensus finding because of insufficient sanction mechanisms. Central characteristics and success conditions of standardization processes can be evaluated by referring to industrialeconomic and organization-sociological theories. In this study the theoretical basis and ways of procedure of self-regulation are evaluated by using these approaches. In principle self-regulation regimes prove as more durable and more stable. They represent, however, usually only the smallest common denominator of a potential solution. The more homogeneous the interests are, the more efficiently are the resolutions translated into action. The larger the differences are, the more important is the presence of imperative regulation rules with different kinds of interference possibilities. Accordingly a crucial condition for the success of a self-regulation regime is the ex-ante definition of detailed and binding operational processes including incentive and sanction mechanisms. [Full text available in German only]

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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