How does the ICN accommodate its increasing diversity? Putting benchmarking into practice

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GR:EEN - GEM Doctoral Working Paper Series
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This article examines the way the International Competition Network (ICN) attempts to accommodate its increasing diversity within its overall framework of voluntary policy convergence promotion. A dilemma for the ICN is that the more successful its convergence endeavour is, the more diverse members it attracts. Drawing on recent publications of the ICN as well as secondary sources, this research identifies four strategies of the ICN for overcoming this challenge.
Among various causal mechanisms of policy convergence debated in the theoretical literature, benchmarking, a particular kind of transnational communications, characterizes the governance mode of the ICN. The author argues that, so as to achieve benchmarking among its increasingly diverse members, the ICN maximizes opportunities for information and experience sharing among its members, incorporates experts into the drafting of best practices, limits and prioritizes its agenda, and takes advocacy and capacity building seriously. This article also documents the partial alignment of ICN member jurisdictions’ rules with non-binding best practices on merger review. While more comprehensive data is necessary to assess the actual impact of the ICN on national legislation, at least one may conclude that the Network is already more than a mere talking shop despite the absence of any binding rule. Nevertheless, since the ICN purposefully handled relatively easy areas in its first decade, the initial relative achievement vis-à-vis its own goals should not be over-evaluated.