Noting that nanotechnology and nanoindustries have emerged during a period when both the power and ability of government agencies, both on the Federal and State levels, to regulate commerce in all of it’s myriad forms has come under debate and "renewed interest in regulatory reform" and is being "replaced by new governance approaches seeking to transform regulation from [an] agency-centric excercise in setting incentives to a collarborative undertaking by actors from multiple segments of society" Professor Timothy F. Malloy of the UCLA School of Law, in a short essay "Soft Law and Nanotechnology: A Functional Perspective", examines"soft law" in the regulation of nanoindustry. "Soft law", in this study, rises from multiple sources, "established standards of behavior and . . . is not legally binding".

Professor Malloy briefly describes four functions of soft law:

1- Precursive function: Laying the groundwork

" The precursive function refers to the use of soft law to lay the groundwork for later hard law instruments. . . . often [taking] the form of voluntary programs aimed at collecting information needed to design conventional hard law programs. . . . Precursive soft law programs may also focus on taking potential regulatory approaches, methodologies or standards for ‘test drives’, hoping to inform or improve the design of the later mandatory program."

2- Normative Function: Leveraging Social Norms

"The normative function refers to the soft law program’s capacity to support the formation and activation of norms of behavior among the targeted population of businesses. . . .Here the program …