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Using the Potential of Orchestration. The Formation of New Inter-Organizational Relations between IOs and Local Government Organizations

Kai Harbrich
Universität Potsdam
Kai Harbrich
Universität Potsdam
Open Panel

Abstract

Whereas conducting inter-organizational relations is mostly assumed to be the privilege of IOs alone, this paper focuses on the rise of a more hybrid form of inter-organizational cooperation: the emergence of well-established forms of cooperation between International Organizations (IOs) on the one side, and emerging Local Government Organizations (LGOs) on the other. Although widely neglected in the study of IR, there is growing evidence that IOs such as UNEP, UNESCO, UN-HABITAT, FAO and the World Bank have now a remarkable record of cooperation with cities, and local government organizations in particular. Prominent cases include UNEP''s support for Local Governments of Sustainability (ICLEI) or UN-Habitat''s and World Bank''s cooperation with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). While in some cases these relationships are sporadic and remain unbound, there are other cases where cooperation between IOs and LGOs has led to the signing of more or less formal contracts or even led to the creation of “meta-organizations” that serve as superordinate coordination bodies in which both IOs and LGOs are equitable members. Since designing and maintaining such inter-organizational cooperation arrangements is fairly cost-intensive and always implicates the possibility for rivalry and conflict, the existence of close interrelationships between IOs and LGOs raises the fundamental question: Why, and under what conditions do IOs such as UNEP and the World Bank engage in inter-organizational relationships with LGOs. In order to examine the creation and functioning of these new forms of inter-organizational cooperation, this paper will introduce the concept of “orchestration” as an appropriate theoretical framework. Yet, while already important as a governance tool, IO orchestration (which is indirect and soft) is rarely taken note of in either International Relations or International Law scholarship. It is either ignored altogether or conflated either with so-called “new” governance where IOs promote targets’ voluntary self-regulation (which is soft, but direct) or with IO governance by delegation (which is indirect, but hard). In order to try out and refine the orchestration model the paper aims to probe the plausibility of two significant cases: The interactions between the World Bank and UCLG that led to the foundation of the “Cities Alliance” on the one hand, and the collaborative activities between UNEP and ICLEI that led to the adoption of the “Local Government Climate Roadmap” on the other.