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ECPR General Conference 2020, University of Innsbruck

Changing Course: How Do IOs Reconcile Inclusivity and Authority During Times of Change?

Civil Society
 
Environmental Policy
 
Governance
 
Political Sociology
 
Constructivism
 
Institutions
 
Political theory
 
Presenter
Hayley Stevenson
University of Sheffield
Authors
Hayley Stevenson
University of Sheffield

Abstract
There is a growing call to confront the democratic deficit of international institutions. Some political theorists argue that enhancing the inclusivity of decision-making in IOs will enhance their legitimacy and effectiveness. They advance moral and rational arguments for designing institutions to maximise inclusivity in terms of affected people and diverse perspectives. Yet, we still have limited understanding of the potential for reconciling these demands with the nature of authority in IOs. What is especially unclear is how individuals working within IOs receive, interpret, and process heterogeneous perspectives and diverse normative critiques about the organizations’ norms and policies. The potential for inclusion to contribute to policy change is therefore unclear. This paper will elaborate on this lacuna in the field and outline a research agenda and analytical framework for addressing the challenge of transforming inclusivity into progressive institutional change. Focusing on emerging innovation in environmental policy in four different IOs (particularly in the form of ‘green economy’ and ‘green growth’ programs), the project aims to (a) identify the different discourses that currently exist about the environment-economy nexus; (b) determine how IOs deal with a plurality of positions and understandings of the environment-economy nexus in the process of developing new sustainability strategies; and (c) determine how the means of presenting diverse ideas and delivering critique affects how it is received, interpreted, and processed by individual staff within IOs. These aims are pursued by adopting an interpretivist framework that recognises that individuals are embedded in institutional structures but still have a limited capacity for innovative reasoning and creative leadership that can contribute to changing those structures. The research will advance theoretical understanding about the nature and scope of this individual agency in such a way that will shed light on how the moral and pragmatic benefits of inclusivity can be realised.
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