Outline of the topic
Since the end of World War II, the modern system of global governance has undergone profound changes. The number, scope, and authority of international institutions have grown considerably over the course of the past decades (Goldstein et al. 2000; Koremenos 2016). International institutions are more numerous in a larger set of issue areas, including security, the economy, human rights, and the environment. Within this dense web of institutions, a substantive degree of authority shifted from the national to the international level (Genschel and Zangl 2014; Zürn 2018). New forms of governance arrangements are proliferating (Abbott et al. 2016; Andonova 2017; Vabulas and Snidal 2013) and the number and power of classical intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) have grown. In contrast to much of the dominant rational choice literature – notably principal-agent (PA) approaches – which focuses strongly on the formal foundations of IGOs and other global governance arrangements, this workshop aims to contribute to an emerging research agenda interested in the transformations of formal and informal IGOs.
The need for more encompassing theoretical accounts of how IGOs’ institutional design develops over time is fuelled by two developments in global governance and respective research. First, a number of large-scale data-collection research projects have demonstrated that the institutional design of IGOs changes considerably as organizations grow older. Liesbet Hooghe and colleagues (2017; see also Lenz et al. 2015) demonstrate, for instance, how the level of delegated and pooled authority has changed over time. Similarly, research focusing on the financial and personnel capabilities and the subtle changes of respective formal rules (Bayram and Graham 2017; Conceiçao-Heldt and Schmidtke 2016; Reinsberg et al. 2017) demonstrates substantive development of IGOs over time and Jonas Tallberg and colleagues (2013) have shown how IGOs have opened up to transnational actors especially since the end of the Cold War (see also Grigorescu 2015). While these and other projects focus on different aspects of the institutional design of IGOs, they all demonstrate that IGOs transform as they grow older.
Second, a number of recent publications in International Relations have highlighted the potential of historical institutionalism to explain the emergence, stability, and development of IGOs in time (Fioretos 2017; Lipscy 2017; Rixen et al. 2016). These publications have begun to unfold a research program that takes temporal dynamics in global governance seriously. Build on conceptual and theoretical tools developed in comparative politics (Mahoney and Thelen 2010, 2015; Pierson 2004), this research has demonstrated that institutional change takes place in different modes, with different speeds, and with varying scope.
Generally, historical institutionalism offers a number of theoretical modules which have the potential to fill in the blind spots of both rational and sociological institutionalism (Zürn 2016). By focusing on issues of path dependence, critical junctures, timing, and sequence the historical institutionalist perspective can contribute to explaining why some formal and informal IGOs’ institutional designs are more resilient to change than others and why the speed and scope of institutional development vary considerably across formal and informal IGOs.
This workshop aims to bring together cutting-edge research on the temporal dynamics of formal and informal IGOs. Besides the aim of contributing to conceptual and theoretical progress, we hope to inspire empirical research on individual cases as well as inquiries into the similarities and differences of institutional development in global governance across a wider set of organizations and institutions. Pertinent questions are for instance: What are conditions of institutional stability and development? Why are some sets of IOs more or less institutionally stable? Why do we observe different speeds and scopes of institutional development across cases and over time? How do informal governance arrangements evolve over time? Under what conditions are informal IGOs more likely to become formal governance arrangements?
Relation to existing research
The objective of this workshop is to contribute to research on the institutional development of formal and informal IGOs. Most of the existing research in this field takes a comparative statics perspective and examine formal rules when comparing formal IGOs (see, for instance, Hawkins et al. 2006; Hooghe et al. 2017; Koremenos 2016). This focus is, however, too narrow for three reasons. First, the strong focus on IGO functions and respective design decisions misses that actor preferences on institutional designs are likely to change over time and need not necessarily be limited to functionality (Büthe 2016; Hanrieder 2015). Second, we claim that – although being an important component of IGOs – formal rules of delegation contracts are invariably supplemented by informal intersubjective institutions on how to interpret and implement formal rules (Conceiçao-Heldt and Schmidtke 2016). By proposing to open up research on IGOs’ institutional design in both directions we intend to spearhead the empirical study of international political development (Fioretos 2017). Third, we compare formal IGOs with informal ones by focusing on their organizing principles, membership, and organizational structure (see Snidal and Vabulas 2016; Vabulas and Snidal 2013).
We welcome scholars working in the field of International Relations and European Integration Studies, as well as scholars from the field of organizational studies dealing with processes of institutional development in IGOs, defined broadly to include regional and global organizations, clubs of governance, regimes, and networks governed by formal international agreements.
Type of papers
The workshop organizers welcome papers:
• addressing methodological issues of studying institutional development in global governance;
• conceptual papers clarifying, for instance, the complementarity of rational choice or sociological institutionalism and historical institutionalism;
• outlining typologies of formal and informal institutional development.
• examining new modes of governance (experimentalism; public-private partnerships; privatization; diffusion of power)
• empirical papers providing in-depth studies of transformation in formal and informal institutions
• and comparative papers focusing on a range of different IGOs and informal organizations.
Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt is professor of European and Global Governance at the Technical University of Munich. She leads and conducts research about international organizations, multilateral negotiations, European Union, and trade cooperation. She is the author of Negotiating Trade Liberalization in the WTO: Domestic Politics and Bargaining Dynamics (2011). Moreover, she has published many articles on the European Union, negotiation analysis, and global economic trade governance in journals such as Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Journal of European Public Policy, Negotiation Journal, International Negotiations, International Relations, and Global Society. Conceição-Heldt has received several prestigious awards for her research, as well as numerous grants from German, Portuguese and European research agencies (e.g. Heisenberg fellowship from the German Science Foundation, Jean Monnet fellowship at the European University Institute, a Calouste Gulbenkian fellowship at the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University and a Starting grant from the European Research Council). She has been a visiting scholar at the Center for European Studies (Harvard University), European University Institute, Social Science Research Center Berlin, Carleton University in Ottawa and Free University Berlin.
Duncan Snidal is Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a fellow of both Nuffield College and the British Academy. His research focuses on problems of international cooperation and institutions–including international law and international organizations–with an emphasis on institutional design. He is co-editor of International Organizations as Orchestrators, which looks at how IOs “manage” and “by-pass” states through the use of third actors such as NGOs. His co-authored book on Institutional Choice and Global Commerce examines the evolution of international regimes for trade and commerce as a problem of institutional choice from a bounded rationality perspective blending rationalist and historical perspectives Recent articles have appeared in International Organization, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution and in the Annals of the American Academy for Social and Political Science. His current projects analyze multi-partner governance of transnational production and the emergence of informal international organizations (such as the G20) as distinctive forms of international governance. He is co-founder and editor of the journal International Theory and general co-editor of a forthcoming twelve-volume set of Oxford Handbooks of International Relations.
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Andonova, Liliana B. (2017), Governance Entrepreneurs. International Organizations and the Rise of Global Public-Private Partnerships (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Bayram, A. Burucu and Graham, Erin R. (2017), 'Financing the United Nations: Explaining Variation in how Donors Provide Funding to the UN', Review of International Organizations, 12 (3), 421-59.
Büthe, Tim (2016), 'Historical Institutionalism and Institutional Development in the EU', in Thomas Rixen, Laura Anne Viola, and Michael Zürn (eds.), Historical Institutionalism & International Relations. Explaining Institutional Development in World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 37-67.
Conceiçao-Heldt, Eugénia da and Schmidtke, Henning (2016), 'Empowering International Organizations: Evolution of Financial and Staff Capabilities', Unpublished ms.
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