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Journal of

International Organizations Studies

Special Issue

Sociological Perspectives on International Organizations and the Construction of Global Political Order

Guest Editors

Martin Koch, Bielefeld University Stephan Stetter, Universit채t der Bundeswehr M체nchen

VOLUME 4, SPECIAL ISSUE


Journal of International Organizations Studies (JIOS)

The Journal of International Organizations Studies is the peer-reviewed journal of the United Nations Studies Association (UNSA), published in cooperation with the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University. JIOS provides a forum for scholars who work on international organizations in a variety of disciplines. The journal aims to provide a window into the state of the art of research on international governmental organizations, supporting innovative approaches and interdisciplinary dialogue. The journal’s mission is to explore new grounds and transcend the traditional perspective of international organizations as merely the sum of its members and their policies.

Details on Submission and Review

JIOS is published twice annually, in March and September, online and print-on-demand. Submission deadline for the Fall issue is 1 May each year and for the Spring issue is 1 November of the previous year. JIOS publishes three types of articles: • Research papers (8,000–10,000 words, including footnotes and references)

• Insider’s View (3,000–7,000, including footnotes and references): contributions from practitioners illuminating the inner workings of international organizations. • Reviews of literature, disciplinary approaches or panels/workshops/conferences (single book reviews, panel or workshop reviews: 800–1,200 words, multiple book or subject reviews: 2,000–3,000, including footnotes and references)

Please send submissions to editors@journal-iostudies.org. For submissions and formatting guidelines, please see http://www.journal-iostudies.org/how-submit-your-paper. All papers will be reviewed by two or three external reviewers and then either accepted, rejected, or returned to the author(s) with the invitation to make minor corrections or revise and resubmit (medium to major changes). The final decision on acceptance of submissions rests solely with the editors.

Contact Information

UN Studies Association, c/o coconets, Hannoversche Str. 2, 10115 Berlin, Germany David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA E-mail: editors@journal-iostudies.org Web: http://www.journal-iostudies.org ISSN 2191-2556 (print)

ISSN 2191-2564 (online)

©2013 All rights reserved. EDITORS

EDITORS-IN-CHIEF

Kirsten Haack, Northumbria University; John Mathiason, Cornell University REVIEW EDITOR

Klaas Dykmann, Roskilde University INSIDER’S VIEW EDITOR

Nicola Contessi, McGill University MANAGING EDITOR

Cory Leonard, Brigham Young University EDITORIAL BOARD

Christopher Ankersen, Royal Military College of Canada

Jonathan Koppell, Yale University

Donald C.F. Daniel, Georgetown University

Slawomir Redo, UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Malte Brosig, University of the Witwatersrand Martin S. Edwards, Seton Hall University

Dirk Growe, Global Policy Forum Europe Julia Harfensteller, University of Bremen Ian Hurd, Northwestern University

Adam Kamradt-Scott, University of Sydney Ina Klein, University of Osnabrück

Henrike Landré, DIAS/UN Studies Association

Manuela Scheuermann, University of Würzburg Tamara Shockley, Independent Researcher Kendall Stiles, Brigham Young University Jonathan R. Strand, University of Nevada

Markus Thiel, Florida International University Andrew Williams, University of St. Andrews


Journal of

International Organizations Studies

Special Issue

Sociological Perspectives on International Organizations and the Construction of Global Political Order

Guest Editors

Martin Koch, Bielefeld University Stephan Stetter, Universit채t der Bundeswehr M체nchen

VOLUME 4, SPECIAL ISSUE


Table of Contents

Contributors...................................................................................................................... 3 EDITORIAL Sociological Perspectives on International Organizations and the Construction of Global Political Order—An Introduction Martin Koch and Stephan Stetter......................................................................................... 4 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Looking Back at the Gap: International Organizations as Organizations Twenty-Five Years Later Steven R. Brechin and Gayl D. Ness.................................................................................. 14 International Organizations as Meta-Organizations: The Case of the European Union Dieter Kerwer................................................................................................................... 40 The EU as a Structured Power: Organizing EU Foreign Affairs within the Institutional Environment of World Politics Stephan Stetter.................................................................................................................. 54 Assembling International Organizations Swati Srivastava ............................................................................................................... 72 Inter-Organizational Relations as Structures of Corporate Practice Ulrich Franke and Martin Koch ...................................................................................... 85 International Parliamentary Institutions as Organizations Robert M. Cutler............................................................................................................. 104


Contributors Steven R. Brechin is a professor of sociology at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Brechin received a PhD from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor in 1989. Before arriving in Syracuse University in 2004, he taught at Princeton University, the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on a wide range of topics that engage organizational, political, and environmental sociology. Robert M. Cutler was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BSc), Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies (Gallatin Fellow), and the University of Michigan (PhD). Originally a specialist in Soviet foreign policy and East–West relations in Europe, Cutler has held research and teaching appointments at major universities in the U.S., Canada, France, Switzerland, and Russia. He has published extensively on the significance of complexity science for political analysis and international studies, including the fields of energy security and geo-economics. Ulrich Franke is a political scientist at the University of Bremen’s Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS). Franke’s major research interests cover international organizations, security studies, and the philosophy of social sciences. He is currently working on relations among international organizations in security politics and on the effects of the German Armed Forces’ foreign deployment on political culture and the division of powers in Germany. Dieter Kerwer is lecturer of international politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Antwerp. Kerwer’s work on international organizations draws on organization studies to appreciate their possibilities and limitations as agents of global governance. Martin Koch is an assistant professor at Bielefeld University. Koch’s research interests are international organizations, international relations theory, organization studies, world society studies, and global inequality. His current research focuses on a sociological reconceptualization of international organizations as world organizations. Gayl D. Ness is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. Ness received a PhD in sociology from the University of California—Berkeley in 1961, followed by a four-year, post-doctoral fellowship in Southeast Asia. During his long career at Michigan, Ness divided his time between the Department of Sociology and the School of Public Health. His research interests have focused on the organizational dimensions of economic development, population assistance, population-environment dynamics, and the sustainability of global cities. Swati Srivastava is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University with research interests in international organizations, non-state actors, power in global governance, and IR theory. Stephan Stetter is a university professor holding the Chair in International Politics and Conflict Studies at the Universität der Bundeswehr München, Faculty of Social Sciences. Stetter has published widely in leading journals and book publishers on issues of sociological theories in IR and conflict studies, politics and society in the Middle East, and EU foreign politics. He is the editor of the leading German-language IR journal, the Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen.


EDITORIAL Sociological Perspectives on International Organizations and the Construction of Global Political Order—An Introduction by Martin Koch, Bielefeld University and Stephan Stetter, Universität der Bundeswehr München Some twenty-five years ago, Gayl Ness and Steven Brechin stated in an article, which turned out to be seminal for the research field of organizational studies, that the “gap between the study of international organization and sociology is deep and persistent” (1988:245). Although the discipline of International Relations (IR) has achieved some progress and arguably does no longer share “an essentially naïve view of organizations as simple mechanical tools that act directly and precisely at the bidding of their creators” (Ness and Brechin 1988:269), there is still an unfortunate gap between how IR and sociology understand international organizations. We argue in this special issue that this gap negatively affects the way international (governmental) organizations (IOs) are often studied. Thus, in many IR approaches they are still considered as somewhat incapacitated actors, coming close to what Ness and Brechin refer to as a “naïve view of organizations.” By bridging the proverbial gap through contributions drawing from both organizational theories in sociology and research on IOs relevant to IR, this special issue on “Sociological Perspectives on International Organizations and the construction of global political order” aims to offer alternative and potentially enriching theoretical and empirical perspectives on what is bound to be a key feature of global politics in the twenty-first century, namely a deep and persistent (but also ambivalent) impact of IOs—understood as organizations in their own right embedded in their social environment (see Brechin and Ness in this issue)— on structures, actor constellations, and issues of contemporary global politics. While research on IOs emerged in the 1950s, e.g., with Ernst Haas’ functionalist studies of European integration and Karl Deutsch’s work on security communities (Deutsch 1969; Haas 1958), the issue pervaded mainstream IR in a more persistent manner only during the 1970s as a result of an increasing interest of liberal-institutionalist theories of how interstate vulnerabilities result in the creation of more and more IOs and international regimes (Kratochwil and Ruggie 1986). This trend has consolidated over the last two decades, during which IOs have increasingly been identified as important actors in world politics, both by practitioners and academics. In that context, (liberal-institutionalist) Global Governance research on the one hand and social constructivist research on IOs as norm entrepreneurs on the other have dominated the field. Once established as means to facilitate interstate


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cooperation IOs are actually playing roles and carrying out crucial tasks ranging from generating norms and rules to norm diffusion, monitoring, dispute settlement, and sometimes even sanctioning nonconforming behavior in diverse policy areas. Both aforementioned research streams have undoubtedly added new and fresh perspectives on IOs, albeit with the tendency to conceptualize IOs in a more or less explicit manner with a view to their relations with states, rather than seeing them as organizations in their own right. Although this IO-staterelationship certainly is an important aspect, e.g., for understanding the setup of and powerstruggles within IOs, the state-centric focus obstructs in our view a more coherent approach to IOs. Conceptualizing IOs instead as organizations in their own right is, however, not only an imperative arising as soon as key insights of organizational theories in sociology are taken seriously—it also corresponds with sociologically inspired conceptual developments in IR which underline that while states are key actors in world politics they should neither from a historical nor a contemporary perspective be considered as the ontological starting point to analyze the deeper structures of world politics, and this includes analyses of IOs (see only Stetter 2012; Aalberts 2010; Albert and Buzan 2010). Based on this understanding, the contributions in this special issue share the conceptual assumption that IOs are organizations that can be fruitfully analyzed from sociological perspectives, which primarily highlight their organizational characteristics and their environmental embeddedness (rather than their interrelations with states), and put this in relation to sociologically inspired perspectives on world politics. Guided by this shared viewpoint, the contributions nevertheless do not aim to offer a unified theory of IOs. Both theoretically and empirically they offer alternative sociological perspectives on IOs. Rather than settling the debate at this stage, we thus aim—to paraphrase Ness and Brechin once more—to offer several bridges between sociology and IR leaving it to future debates deciding which of these bridges are better suited to carry the weight IOs undoubtedly have in contemporary global politics. Having said this, the contributions in this volume thus shed light on 1) alternative sociologically inspired conceptualizations of IOs and their role in world politics; thereby they focus in particular on 2) the internal operating dynamics of IOs; and 3) relations between IOs and their environment that consists, alongside states, of IOs, NGOs, transnational and multinational corporations, epistemic communities, world publics etc. It brings together different sociological perspectives on IOs—from the theory of metaorganizations to modern system theory, pragmatism, post-structuralism, complexity theory, world society, and globalization theories as well as inter-organizational relations theory—and provides manifold empirical illustrations underlining the benefits of such approaches. Before briefly outlining the setup of this special issue, a short overview on how this special issue aims to contribute to current debates on sociological approaches to IR in general and the analysis of IOs in particular is, however, at place. IOs—Instruments, Arenas, Actors, and Bureaucracies In the context of their emergence in world politics in the nineteenth century, the main function of IOs has been to facilitate and coordinate interstate cooperation. They were established at interfaces between states in order to organize peaceful interactions and problem solving between them. Definitions of IOs in international law correspond with this founding principle and IOs


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are therefore seen as “an association of States, established by agreement among its members and possessing a permanent system or set of organs, whose task it is to pursue objectives of common interest by means of co-operation among its members” (Virally 1977:59). Accordingly, states were seen as the only members of IOs—in the words of James Lorimer who invented the term “international organisation has thus no substantive value. It is not an end in itself. It is sought for the sake of national organisation alone” (1884:190). It is important to notice that Lorimer refers here to both the overall organization of the international (aka: world politics) as well as international organizations as an institutionalized form. More recent definitions further specify but nevertheless are often still based on this state-centered definition regarding the basic character of IOs by highlighting that IOs 1) are based on a formal instrument of agreement between the governments of nation states; 2) include three or more nation states as parties to the agreement; and 3) possess a permanent secretariat performing ongoing tasks (UIA 2009). Such definitions concentrate, on their most basic level, on the relations between states on the one hand and on quite formal, often equally state-centered features of IOs themselves on the other (such as the minimum number of member states). In general, they do define the international aspects of IOs but neglect their organizational characteristics. The organizational character is accordingly conceived of in a rather trivial sense, namely that states organize their actions and interactions (Koch 2008). This lack of an independent organizational theory of IOs themselves underpins the perception that ultimately merely the member states decide in IOs—and that, if they do not decide, they have decided to do so. In that sense, international organization is from an ontological perspective nothing more than the accumulation of member states interest; “[p]ut simply, states create legal rules through international organizations; states break these rules in spite of their commitments” (Joyner 2005:104). Having these broader definitions and descriptions of IOs in mind, we can now glance at how IR has dealt with IOs. Yet, instead of introducing different theories and approaches in detail, we take a different road by focusing on the key metaphors used to describe IOs in IR. These metaphors grasp a broader spectrum of theories. In other words, although IR theories differ in many ways, they often use the same metaphors when analyzing IOs. We see four metaphors central to the study of IOs in IR, namely viewing IOs as instruments, arenas and actors (Hurd 2011) and, as a rather recent trend, as bureaucracies (Barnett and Finnemore 1999, 2004). In the following we offer a short overview on these four metaphors and discuss their merits as well as some of their blind spots. Seen as instruments IOs are mere vehicles for states in carrying out certain tasks. An instrumental perspective dominates in realism and neo-realism. That is why these theories ultimately do not pay much attention to what IOs themselves do and say. States are conceptualized as being the one and only actors in the international realm and if IOs act, they do so mediated and guided by states. IOs are thus important only insofar as they offer opportunities for states to enforce their interests in the international realm. To take one example, IOs such as the UN, the EU, NATO and others are conceived by (neo)realists as operative tools for states, these “institutions largely mirror the distribution of power in the system” (Mearsheimer 1994­‒1995:13). That means that ultimately IOs do not have any influence on international politics; quite to the contrary “the most powerful states in the system create and


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shape institutions so that they can maintain their share of world power, or even increase it” (Mearsheimer 1994‒1995:13).1 When viewed as arenas, IOs offer a forum for states to reach agreements. They are providing an administrative umbrella for negotiations (i.e., venue, organizational procedures, agenda-setting etc.,) that facilitates an achievement of agreements between states. IOs are regarded as “permanent institutions of conference diplomacy in which states may exchange information, condemn or justify certain actions and coordinate their national political strategies” (Rittberger, Zangl, and Staisch 2006:6). This perception is shared by neo-institutional approaches. Although the relations between states are anarchic IOs have a stabilizing effect on interstate cooperation. They are somewhat of an actor, but rather in an administrative and not a political sense. They can thus be useful vehicles to coordinate interstate collaboration and help states to solve common problems leading to better results when compared with a situation in which states act and cooperate in an ad hoc manner. Although neo-institutional approaches thus assume that IOs operate as actors in the international system, e.g., by monitoring states’ behavior (Keohane and Nye 1972; Krasner 1995), they do not accredit IOs with a similar quality of autonomy as they attribute to states. In this sense, IOs are not much more than referees in a game played primarily by states. In comparison to these first two metaphors, IOs are imputed a more active role in approaches conceiving IOs as actors on the international stage—although they differ with regard to what “acting” precisely implies. Some approaches view IOs as supporting actors, while others perceive them as protagonists (Rittberger, Zangl, and Staisch 2006:6). The role of IOs as supporting actors is emphasized in functionalist theories and principal-agent-models (Mitrany 1948, 1975; Nielson and Tierney 2003; Lake and McCubbins 2006; Da ConceiçaoHeldt 2010). While functionalists argue that IOs could and should fulfill certain tasks for their member states—in particular in rather technical issue areas traditionally referred to as “low politics”—principal-agent approaches deal with the question of how states (as principals) can use IOs (as agents) to deal with interstate problems. “In this framework, member governments establish the goals that IOs will pursue and then allow the IO to pursue those goals with little interference most of the time” (Nielson and Tierney 2003:245). Often drawing from the principal-agent-ontology, global governance approaches conceive IOs as protagonists on the international stage. They are based on the assumption that, because of a growing number of interstate linkages, it becomes necessary to develop, maintain, and implement accepted norms and standards on a global scale. In this respect, IOs are at least implicitly seen as signals of a changing world order in which an ever-increasing number of global problems can no longer be addressed solely by states (Commission for Global Governance 1995:370). This interdependency between states and non-state actors such as IOs (but also NGOs and transnational firms) is most widely studied at the interface between economy and politics. The density of institutional arrangements on that level is comprehensive—i.e., IOs like the IMF, World Bank, WTO—and the contributions of these organizations to global political order is significant (Slaughter 2003, Rosenau 2009, Peet 2009). When looking at different issue areas, the character of IOs in Global Governance varies (e.g., when comparing financial 1. Similar conceptions can be found in Marxist approaches that see enterprises as the actors using IOs for their own ends (Berki 1971).


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governance and security governance) and is often linked to the notion of norms.2 On that level, constructivist approaches come in. They emphasize a two-dimensional role of IOs. On the one hand, IOs (as arenas) institutionalize and maintain norms. On the other hand, IOs (as actors) act—often in a quite independent manner—and also contribute to the enforcement and creation of norms that subsequently shape behavioral patterns of states and individuals. In addition, constructivist theories and global governance approaches have underlined how and under what circumstances IOs act as (legitimizing) experts claiming a distinct problemsolving capacity and how they are involved in dispute settlement (Hurd 2011, Pelc 2010). In sum, it can be concluded that the traditional metaphors on the basis of which IR constructs the role of IOs in world politics, concentrate heavily on the relationship between states and IOs. They analyze to what extent the one exerts influence on the behavior of the other and vice versa, but usually they attribute “real” agency to states. This focus on states and state-IO relations respectively obstructs, however, the ability of IR to view IOs as purposeful actors which not only act but which are not exclusively bound to states and autonomously engage in relations to other actors in world politics too, such as in their interactions with other IOs, states (both member states and third states), NGOs, or epistemic communities. This ontology is often rather implicit, resulting from the deep-seated state-centered imaginary underpinning most IR theorizing (Ferguson and Mansbach 2004). Consequently, many IR approaches lack a theoretical and conceptual vocabulary to study IOs as research objects in their own right. This already points to the usefulness of adopting sociological perspectives focusing on IOs as organizations rather than on state-IO relations. Of course, using insights from sociology (in particular organization studies) is not entirely new to IR. Ness and Brechin laid the groundwork in the late 1980s when they carved out how IR can be enriched by the study of organizations. They demonstrated the relevance of organization studies by analyzing “sensitizing concepts” (organizational environments, technology, structures, and goals) that underline the character of IOs as organizations (Ness and Brechin 1988:248). Against this background, IOs are “live collectivities interacting with their environments, and they contain members who seek to use the organization for their own ends, often struggling with others over the organizational character” (Ness and Brechin 1988:247). Whereas Ness and Brechin have advocated a rather broad conceptual turn to organization studies, other authors use a more narrow organizational approach when conceptualizing IOs. Robert Keohane was of paramount importance on that level, since he used concepts from institutional economy drawn from Coase (1960) and Williamson (1965) and on that basis showed how IOs contribute to reduce transaction costs in interstate cooperations (Keohane 1984:85‒109). While drawing from principal-agent-theories, Nielson and Tierney, to mention another example, made use of theories of the firm (Williamson 1975) in order to explain delegation from states to IOs (Nielson and Tierney 2003). Probably the most elaborated theoretical concept for analyzing IOs as organization in their own right was developed by Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore (1999, 2004). With 2. Norms are defined as “shared expectations about appropriate behavior held by a community of actors. Unlike ideas which may be held privately, norms are shared and social; they are not just subjective but intersubjective” (Finnemore 1996:22). This does not require that norms are legally binding or can be sanctioned.


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a strong conceptual emphasis on the power and pathologies of IOs, Barnett and Finnemore focus on a theoretical level on IOs as bureaucracies in a Weberian tradition. They show how IOs gain authority and how they use their power (Barnett and Finnemore 1999, 2004). Barnett and Finnemore highlight four forms of an IO’s authority (rational-legal, delegated, moral, and expertise), and they illustrate the usefulness of their concept by empirical studies of the IMF,3 the UNHCR,4 and the UN.5 They argue that the power of IOs derives from their authority, their knowledge, and the rules to regulate international relations, thereby constituting a global regulation structure. Barnett and Finnemore (2004) identify three related mechanisms: “IOs (1) classify the world, creating categories of problems, actors, and action; (2) fix meanings in the social world; and (3) articulate and diffuse new norms and rules” (Barnett and Finnemore 2004:31). These mechanisms can have regulative and constitutive effects for international relations, thereby linking organization theories with broader theories of order in world politics (see Stetter 2012). Barnett and Finnemore offer an innovative approach of a bureaucracy’s authority, and they explain how IOs as bureaucracies affect states and policy outputs. Yet, they do not conceptualize IOs as organizations. Quite to the contrary, they focus on the administration in and of IOs. That is why their theoretical model is only applicable for the study of some IOs and cannot easily be applied to study other important IOs such as the WTO, NATO, or the UN Security Council. Furthermore, they pay great attention to how IOs maintain their authority and autonomy vis-à-vis states. By doing so, they certainly modify but ultimately do not overcome the state-centric ontology of classical IR approaches. Overview on this Special Issue We can now summarize our short reflections on the four dominating metaphors on the basis of which IOs are studied in IR. Thus, although there are today nuanced and insightful approaches that occasionally resort to sociological concepts (such as in particular the bureaucracy-approach referred to above), the gap between IR and organizational theory is still evident insofar as IOs are usually not studied explicitly as organizations in their own right—with the partial exception of the metaphor of “bureaucracy” that represents a particular understanding of IOs as organizations (see above). The contributions in this special issue address this gap, thereby following a more recent (sociologically inspired) research strand in which IOs are studied as organizations all the way down (Dingwerth, Kerwer, and Nölke 2009; Ellis 2010). Our aim here is of course not to offer a single organizational theory on IOs or argue that the approaches presented in this special 3. They show how the IMF has risen to the status of a powerful organization (Barnett and Finnemore 2004:45‒72). It was originally designed to serve the interests of member states but instead developed into a gradually more and more independent organization as a result of the authority of its expertise, e.g., its technical advices, knowledge in economic affairs and conditional programs (Barnett and Finnemore 2004:45‒72). 4. The UNHCR, established in 1951 with an expected life span of three years, evolved from an entirely dependent organization to an organization being able “to capitalize on world events and use its authority to greatly expand both the groups of people it assisted and the kinds of assistance it could give” (Barnett and Finnemore 2004:73). The UNHCR’s authority consists of delegated authority, e.g. by helping states to carry out specific tasks of coordinating state-obligations under the Refugee Convention., Its moral authority derived from the mission to help and protect refugees (Barnett and Finnemore 2004:73‒120). The delegated and moral authority of the UNHCR can also be seen in its ability to shape the hegemonic definition of a “refugee.” This definition has become a common accepted notion across nation states that is used internationally and shapes national law (Barnett and Finnemore 1999). 5. The UN’s authority derives from its impartiality and neutrality to act as a broker in conflicts. The UN and its peacekeeping culture are used as examples of pathologies in IOs. Barnett and Finnemore show how specific organizational cultures that favor nonintervention and the cooperation with conflicting parties impeded an intervention of UN peacekeeping forces trying to stop the genocide. In Rwanda, the UN defined the violence as a civil war in the sense that one could observe reciprocal clashes between the two ethnic groups. Because of the characterization as a civil war, the UN had no basis for involvement under peacekeeping rules. As a consequence, the UN rejected intervention even when facing organized mass killings (Barnett and Finnemore 2004:121‒55; Barnett 1997).


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issue are the only ones worth following. The goal is more specific and modest at the same time, namely to discuss as a first step how some selected organization theories from sociology can contribute to the study of IOs in IR. In the opening article, Steven Brechin and Gayl Ness look back at the gap—twentyfive years after their seminar article on that topic. They continue and detail their former discussion by reviewing why the gap became an issue in IR and sociology. They explain how various approaches both in IR and sociology attempted to fill this gap by dealing, both theoretically and empirically, with IOs from a particular sociological perspective. Referring to Scott (2004), Brechin and Ness identify three developments in organizational sociology: changing boundaries and strategies, changing power and processes, and changing concepts of organizations as entities to processes. These developments and the literature they have reflected upon point to four opportunities for further research: 1) differentiating IOs environments that consist of different organizations raising various expectations; 2) exploring how IOs—in particular IOs’ leadership—navigates environmental pressures and dependencies; 3) better understanding the (social) legitimacy of IOs; and 4) better conceiving the organizational networks in global governance. They conclude that the gap has been narrowed in the last twenty-five years; however, as we live in an (internationally) organized world there is still something to analyze in the next quarter of a century. Dieter Kerwer then follows that line by showing how a sociological approach deals with key blank spots of dominant IR approaches to the study of IOs. By showing that IOs can well be understood on the basis of theories of meta-organizations (MO), he discusses the limits of both principal-agent approaches and social constructivist theories. While the former are problematic insofar as many IOs actually do not have a clear-cut separation but rather a fuzzy overlap between alleged principals and agents, the latter tend to be too overly optimistic about the normative power of IOs, underestimating the impediments on action all MOs (i.e., IOs) face. Kerwer then applies this theoretical framework informed by theories on MOs to the case of the EU. In the subsequent article, Stephan Stetter also discusses the EU from an organization theoretical perspective, focusing on the role of the EU as a foreign policy actor and drawing primarily from sociological institutionalism. He shows the EU can be understood as an organization due to its capacity to make decisions, a prerequisite for the operative closure shared by all organizations. At the same time, however, the EU—and other IOs—are institutions-within-an-environment, and Stetter then analyzes how stimuli and expectations from this environment (the world political system) construct the actorhood and power of the EU as an organization in its own right. Swati Srivastava further elaborates what this “relational conceptualization” of IOs as actors embedded in an environment entails. Srivastava highlights in particular the status of IOs (but also of states) as assemblages, thereby drawing from various theories of assemblage and assembled networks in sociology and social theory (from Deleuze/Guattari and Latour to Sassen and Knorr-Cetina). Seen from that perspective, IOs occupy a field—a rhizome in the wording of Deleuze and Guattari—characterized by the assemblage of diverse actors aiming to project (rather than to ontologically have) coherence in order to authorize distinct identities.


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She also highlights the dynamics of exerting power and control mediated through such structures of assemblage. Her analysis underlines that IOs can be understood as contingent settlements of varied organizational politics and competing (power-related) tensions in short of assembled rather than delegated authority. While Srivastava discusses assemblages from a mainly conceptual perspective, the subsequent article by Ulrich Franke and Martin Koch analyzes, as it were, assemblages in practice as they focus on interorganizational relations among different types of organizations, such as states, IOs, NGOs, informal groups or any other institutionalized collective action. Informed by classical pragmatism they propose a model to conceive interorganizational relations as structures of corporate practice and how these relations contribute to global order. They illustrate the potential of their conceptual model by analyzing relations between the UN and the G20 and their role in world politics. Franke and Koch show that the role of the G20 in world politics—even though it is operating in a quite informal manner—can be better understood when focusing on their structural capacities to explore options and prepare decisions, which are later formalized in an IO setting (here in the UN). The special issue concludes with the contribution by Robert M. Cutler. While Franke and Koch have highlighted the practice-dimension of relations between informal groups of states and IOs, Cutler discusses in some greater detail the conditions affecting the emergence and coherence of IOs. Empirically, he draws from the example of inter-parliamentary institutions (IPIs). The article has two main conceptual purposes. First, to show that contrary to mainstream studies, IPIs can indeed be understood as IOs. Second, that when studied as organizations, thereby drawing from theories of evolution developed in complexity theories, the analysis of various IPIs sheds light on the variance in organizational performance of different IPIs and points to key parameters shaping this variance. To conclude, the sociologically inspired theories on organizations discussed in this special issue offer alternative perspectives on the status of IOs in world politics, arguably in a manner that allows us to theorize in a more stringent manner than traditional IR metaphors do. They show us how IOs operate as organizations in their own right, embedded in their social environment and thereby contributing to global political order. None of the individual approaches discussed in this volume claims to offer the complete picture, so in order to continue in the permanent project of closing gaps between IR and organization theory future research should reflect on how the approaches presented in this volume and other relevant sociological approaches not discussed here could, even if not unified in a single theoretical framework, guide the way towards a more densely integrated conceptual approach allowing to understand IOs as organizations in their own right. We thus agree with Brechin and Ness that while this special issue aims to make its contribution to further narrow the gap, there remains still something to do for the next twenty-five years in order to understand how our organized world unfolds on a global level inter alia through what IOs do and not do. REFERENCES

Aalberts, Tanja (2010) “Playing the Game of Sovereign States: Charles Manning’s Constructivism avant-la-lettre” European Journal of International Relations 16(2):247‒68. Albert, Mathias and Barry Buzan (2010) “Differentiation: A Sociological Approach to International Relations Theory” European Journal of International Relations 16(3):315‒37.


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Barnett, Michael (1997) “The UN Security Council, Indifference, and Genoicide in Rwanda” Cultural Anthropology 12(4):551‒78. Barnett, Michael and Martha Finnemore (1999) “The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations” International Organization 53(4):699‒732. Barnett, Michael and Martha Finnemore (2004): Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics, Ithaca, London: Cornell University Press. Berki, Robert N. (1971) “On Marxian Thought and the Problem of International Relations” World Politics 24(1):80‒105. Coase, Ronald (1960) “The Problem of Social Cost” Journal of Law and Economics 3(1):1‒44. Commission for Global Governance (ed.) (1995) Our global Neighbourhood, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Da Conceiçao-Heldt, Eugénia (2010) “Who Controls Whom? Dynamics of Power Delegation and Agency Losses in EU Trade Politics” Journal of Common Market Studies 48(4):1107‒26. Deutsch, Karl W. (1969) Political Community and the North Atlantic Area, New York: Greenwood Press. Dingwerth, Klaus, Dieter Kerwer, and Andreas Nölke (eds.) (2009) Die organisierte Welt: Internationale Beziehungen und Organisationsforschung, Baden-Baden: Nomos. Ellis, David C. (2010) “The Organizational Turn in International Organization Theory” Journal of International Organizations Studies 1(1):11‒28. Ferguson, Yale H. and Richard W. Mansbach (2004) Remapping Global Politics: History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Finnemore, Martha (1996) National Interest in International Society, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Haas, Ernst B. (1958) The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social, and Economic Forces 1950‒1957, London: Stevens. Hurd, Ian (2011): “Theorizing International Organizations. Choices and Methods in the Study of International Organizations” Journal of International Organizations Studies 2(2):7‒22. Joyner, Christopher C. (2005) International Law in the 21st Century. Rules for Global Governance, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Keohane, Robert O. and Joseph S. Nye (1972) “Transnational Relations and World Politics: An Introduction,” in Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye (eds.) Transnational Relations and World Politics, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Keohane, Robert O. (1984) After Hegemony. Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Koch, Martin (2008) Verselbständigungsprozesse internationaler Organisationen, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag. Krasner, Stephen D. (1995) “Power Politics, Institutions, and Transnational Relations,” in Thomas Risse-Kappen (ed.) Bringing Transnational Relations back in, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kratochwil, Friedrich V. and John Gerard Ruggie (1986) “International Organization: A State of the Art or the Art of the State” International Organization 40(4):753‒75. Lake, David A. and Matthew D McCubbins (2006) “Thelogic of Delegation to International Organizations,” in Darren G. Hawkins, David A. Lake, Daniel L. Nielson and Michael J. Tierney (eds.) Delegation and Agency in International Organizations, Cambridge: Cambrige University Press. Lorimer, James (1884) The Institutes of the Law of Nations. A Treatise of the Jural Relations of Separate Political Communities Vol. 2, Edinburgh: Blackwood and Sons. Mearsheimer, John J. (1994‒1995) “The False Promise of International Institutions” International Security 19(3):5‒49. Mitrany, David (1948) “The Functional Approach to World Organization” International Affairs 24(3):350‒63. Mitrany, David (1975) The Functional Theory of Politics, London: Western Printing Service.


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Ness, Gayl D. and Steven R. Brechin (1988) “Bridging the Gap: International Organizations as Organizations” International Organization 42(2):245‒73. Nielson, Daniel L. and Michael J. Tierney (2003) “Delegation to International Organizations: Agency Theory and World Bank Reform” International Organization 57(1):241‒76. Peet, Richard (2009) Unholy Trinity: The IMF, World Bank and WTO, London: Zed Books. Pelc, Krzysztof J. (2010) “Constraining Coercion? Legitimacy and Its Role in U.S. Trade Policy, 19752000” International Organization 64(1):65‒96. Rittberger, Volker, Bernhard Zangl, and Matthias Staisch (2006) International Organization: Polity, Politics and Policies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Rosenau, James N. (2009) “Introduction: Global Governance or Global Governances?,” in Jim Whitman (ed.) Global Governance, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Scott, W. Richard (2004) “Reflections on a Half-Century of Organizational Sociology” Annual Review of Sociology 30:1‒21. Slaughter, Anne-Marie (2003) “Governing the Global Economy,” in David Held and David McGrew (eds.): The Global Transformations Reader. An Introduction to the Globalization Debate, Cambridge: Polity Press. Stetter, Stephan (ed.) (2012) Ordnung in der Weltpolitik: Grundzüge einer Soziologie der Internationalen Beziehungen, Sonderband 28, Leviathan: Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaften. Baden-Baden, Nomos (forthcoming). UIA (2009) Yearbook of International Organizations 2009/2010, München: K.G. Saur. Virally, Michel (1977) “Definition and Classification: A Legal Approach” International Social Science Journal 29(1):58‒72. Williamson, Oliver E. (1965) “A Dynamic Theory of Interfirm Behavior” Quarterly Journal of Economics 79(4):579‒607. Williamson, Oliver E. (1975) Markets and Hierarchies: Analysis and Antitrust Implications: A Study in the Economics of Internal Organization, New York, NY: Free Press.


Looking Back at the Gap: International Organizations as Organizations Twenty-Five Years Later1 by Steven R. Brechin, Syracuse University, and Gayl D. Ness, emeritus, University of Michigan—Ann Arbor A quarter century ago we wrote a well-received article for the journal IO lamenting the fact that organizational sociologists ignored international organizations and international relations scholars knew little of the rich insights of organizational sociology. We now return to that original piece for a reassessment. While differences remain, we find a useful and healthy convergence. Both sides have moved closer to one another and have enriched their perspectives. International Relations scholars have come to see organizations as more than merely obedient mechanical tools in the hands of state leaders and have recognized a new set of highly complex players in the international arena. Organizational sociology continues to focus on the power of the environment to shape organizational form and behavior. “New institutionalism,” including “world society theory” in particular, has opened the field to a more nuanced and expansive view of how organizations work and has taken some account of the distinctive environment of the global, international scene. The rise of agentic actors of many stripes with greater legitimacy and social control beyond the nation-state has generated dramatic shifts in environmental influences. We applaud the convergence, note that organizational sociology still has need of greater recognition of the international arena, and make a few suggestions for future work. Introduction In 1988, twenty-five years ago this year, we published a well-received article in the journal International Organization highlighting the gap between organizational sociology and the study of international organizations. In fact, we called the gap “deep and persistent” (Ness and Brechin 1988:245). After reviewing key literatures in both fields, we find growing convergence between these two areas of study but also some differences and opportunities. This convergence is in large part the result of fundamental changes in both areas of scholarship. Among international 1. We would like to thank a number of scholars who have been helpful in many ways. We dedicate this article to Mayer Zald, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who was very supportive of our effort twenty-five years ago and who showed considerable excitement about this new project before his passing in 2012. He will be missed as an extraordinary scholar but also as a supportive and valued colleague. Audie Klotz and David Van Slyke at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Michael Goldman at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, David John Frank, University of California, Irvine, Brian Gareau, Boston College, and Craig Murphy, University of Massachusetts, Boston were each generous with their time and knowledge. And finally, we must acknowledge the editors of this special edition, Martin Koch and Stephan Stetter, for their interest and especially their patience.


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relations (IR) scholars, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are seen now to have greater organizational autonomy as realists’ perspectives have softened some with the end of the Cold War along with the rising forces of globalization, world society, and the decline of nation-state influence. IGOs today seem to be less-commonly viewed as simple extension of powerful states. This perspective has been replaced by what appears to be a more fluid set of actor relationships around both written and unwritten rules and processes within a messier concept of a society of states (Bull 2002). It is this fluidity that we would like to concentrate our attention on when discussing IGOs. What appeals to our fellow sociologists with the concept of a society of states is that it appreciates more the complexity and nuances in behaviors and outcomes embedded in a social system comprised of more and less powerful actors—from individuals to nation-states to organizations. It is also a society that is affected by material and nonmaterial processes, values, norms, and other cultural influences that provide larger context for all actors, including states. However, we would also like to highlight the ability of non-state actors such as IGOs, nongovernment organizations (INGOs), and market-based firms (BINGOs) to help shape these norms, agreements, and related processes as well as the states themselves. In sum, we see the society of states as a social organization created by state actors, but with time it has taken on a life and logic of its own, doing what the creators never intended. This parallels sociologists’ views of the nature of complex formal organizations and institutions. We discuss this more below. While the erosion of state sovereignty remains a much discussed subject (e.g., Krasner 2009; Kreijen et al. 2012; Meyer 2010) the forces of globalization and market liberalization are certainly making the world a different place, including encouraging the rise of supranational organizations like the European Union. We sociologists increasingly see organizations of all stripes as complex actors embedded in levels of environmental influences that shaped various processes and outcomes. This view seems to be shared increasingly among many IR scholars although with perhaps too much emphasis on the states and state power. In organizational sociology, there is an even greater appreciation today than twentyfive years ago of the environmental influences on organizational behaviors and outcomes. In contrast to our original 1988 article, where we argued for the autonomy of IGOs from powerful states, organizational sociologists today tend to see organizations ironically as increasingly porous and having less autonomy. As Ellis (2010), we see nation-states, even powerful ones, as important factors in the environments of IGOs but only as one of many influences. We shall suggest that IR scholars may want to theorize more on the nature of the environments of IGOs that include various levels of state influence as well as on other actors and processes. What are the forces shaping IGO structure, behavior, and outcomes? How are IGOs affecting other actors and events in various environments? States too must be seen as a particular type of actor that is also influenced by changing environmental conditions as well. Hence, there are macro-level pressures shaping nation-states as well as IGOs that should be acknowledged. General questions arise: How do IGOs and states interact? What is the range of environmental influences that allow IGOs to engage in as instruments, as arenas, or as actors? What strategies are IGOs and their administrators employing to manage their environments? Are these strategies new? What are the macro-level environmental changes affecting nation-


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states themselves? Globalization and neoliberalism are obvious ones; are there others? And how do these changes affect the activities of IGOs? When and how do IGOs influence the environments of nation-states and not simply the other way around? While IR scholars appear to have been much more successful in integrating organizational theory into the study of international organizations (IOs), sociologists have failed to more fully develop a sociology of these transnational actors. This is likely in part the result of sociologists increasingly viewing organizations as simply organizations regardless of their placement in specific typologies, such as national or international, business, nonprofit, or public governmental (see DiMaggio 2001; Salamon 2002, 2012). There are sociologists who have focused on the behaviors of specific IGOs as well as their populations along with their consequences for others. We will examine several of these works. What has emerged from the shadows of organizational theory to the forefront is the view of organizations less as entities or nouns and more as verbs, e.g., “organizing” (Scott and Davis 2007) or as embedded in dynamic processes (Tolbert and Hall 2009) rather than static creations. Verbs suggest continuously changing environments for all actors from individuals to all organizations, including nationstates. There are social processes at play at various environmental levels. As we did in 1988, the goal of this paper is to update readers on the state of organizational sociology and to apply some of these insights to the best of our ability as sociologists to the study of IO and IR theory. However, space is limited, so we focused only on a couple of highlights, mostly noted above. Our views are geared more to the meso and macro levels of organizational analysis and not at the individual or leadership. We begin, however, with a brief review on how we each viewed IOs in 1988. We then briefly summarize how several IO/IR scholars have made use of organizational sociology illustrating how in some ways the gap between the two fields has narrowed. Next, we explore briefly key contributions of sociologists to the study of IOs. Finally, we review recent developments and perspectives in organizational sociology and end with some thoughts on future directions in the study of IOs within IR. Our central conceptual points are as follow: 1. IGOs will likely have a range of independence from states depending upon their own characteristics and the environmental context they find themselves in, and that context may vary over time and by state actors. Or stated another way, we see IGOs as both responding to and creating environmental influences, state and non-state. What creates or allows that range of agency? 2. States too must be seen as actors who may not only shape the environment context of some IGOs but certain IGOs in certain context may define the environment for states. 3. There are larger macro-level environmental forces at play affecting all organizational actors, including nation-states. These include globalization, neoliberalism, and the myriad of the institutionalized in world society. As a result we conclude that IO and IR scholars may want to devote more attention to specifying the range and levels of environmental influences generated by IGOs as well those influences affecting them; the same holds for nation-states as well. In sum, differentiating the environmental influences would likely lead to greater understandings of IGO behavior and consequences—or as noted by Koch and Setter in their introduction—IGOs as instruments to (more independent) actors.


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Before we begin, however, we feel it essential to define the boundaries of our discussion. From our readings, many IO scholars seem to typically focus on IGOs and at times seem to use the terms interchangeably. This can be confusing. We noticed this imprecision twentyfive years ago but held our tongue. We use IOs as a generic term for all forms of non-state actors working at the transnational or global levels. As a consequence, we consider IGOs as a subset of IOs connected to the United Nations system and other actors engaged in global governance and related interstate activities. IO scholars also seem to focus less on international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), with even less interest in international business organizations (BINGOs), although there are exceptions there as well (e.g., see the work by Craig Murphy and Joanne Yates (2009) on international standards networks that includes businesses). The relatively new Journal of International Organizations Studies, our host here, itself appears devoted specifically to understanding IGOs as organizations. As a consequence, we shall focus mostly on organizational theory and literature largely from sociology with most of our attention placed on IGOs, but we stray at times. Historical Genesis Our original 1988 article grew out of frustration. At that time, Gayl Ness was working on the international organization of population assistance in poorer developing countries, while Steve Brechin, under the supervision of Ness and Patrick C. West, was engaged in his dissertation research, a comparative study of three IOs that had recently adopted social forestry programs as a new form of rural development assistance. In the process of reviewing the literature, Brechin found little sociological literature on IOs. Likewise, Ness who had been studying international population assistance efforts for many years, especially involving the organizational efforts of United Nations Fund for Population Assistance, UNFPA, had experienced the same. We were surprised by the gap in the literature. Organizational sociologists were ignoring a growing number of organizations working across national boundaries, while IO and related IR scholars did not draw upon organizational sociology to help them understand the nature and behavior of international organizations. We decided we should expose this unexpected gap in the literature. Sociologist Mayer Zald and political scientist and IR scholar Harold Jacobson, colleagues of ours at the University of Michigan, and then editor of the journal IO, Stephen Krasner, provided significant encouragement for the project. Brechin’s dissertation research focused on how three very different IOs—the World Bank, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organizations (in particular FAO’s Forestry Department), and CARE USA (now CARE International)—as self-interested actors, each possessed a particular set of strengths and weaknesses in pursuing similar tasks. This work built from several sociological classics on organizations such as Phil Selznick’s TVA and The Grassroots (1949) and Leadership in Administration (1957), James D. Thompson’s Organizations in Action (1967), Jeffrey Pfeiffer and Gerald Salancik’s Resource Dependency Theory (1978), and Mayer Zald (with colleagues) on their political-economy view of organizations as selfserving (Zald 1970; Wamsley and Zald 1977), as well as classic works that focused on the internal characteristics of organizations. In particular, Brechin attempted to understand the type of organizational outputs and their relative effectiveness related to tree planting efforts in the developing world from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s (Brechin 1989, 1997, and


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2000).2 What Brechin found was that the match between the organization, its environment, and the characteristics of the social forestry task itself led to very different types of social forestry programs by each organization and also their relative success in implementing their projects, especially for the rural poor. Brechin found that internal characteristics—especially the nature of the organization’s technology and its degree of bureaucratic flexibility greatly influenced where these organizations could work, what type of social forestry activities they could pursue, and how effective those efforts were on the ground. In short, FAO, the World Bank, and CARE are very different organizations with different capacities and constraints that led to very different organizational behaviors and outcomes when it came to the similar social forestry task. FAO assisted governments with social forestry programs that rarely reached the rural poor but built up some national/agency capacity; the World Bank funded tree plantations for commercial use via relatively large loans that often failed or served only the elite in developing countries of limited need; while CARE with its considerable flexibility was the most successful in planting trees and provided these programs to poor rural communities and farmers directly in those countries where the need was greatest. With this analysis the notion of organization performance took on a much more complex and multidimensional construction including geographic dimensions. The findings stressed the importance of organizations working together in complementary networks to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses in pursuing complex tasks such rural development in the developing countries. Ness now works at the intersection of population-development-environment. But he began with studies of organizations as a graduate student under Phil Selznick at University of California—Berkeley. Organizations are carriers of value; they grow over time and take on distinctive characters giving them specific capacities and just as specific limitations. Fieldwork in Southeast Asia pointed Ness to powerful impacts on development promotion from organizational conditions. The World Bank was still promoting import-substitution development in Malaysia, but the country grew during the 1960s from export promotion, which soon became the new mantra of the Bank, which survives today. In its Rural Development Program (Ness 1968), Malaysia built an organization highly effective in turning the old colonial bureaucracy into a highly effective tool of development promotion, especially through physical infrastructure development. The medical technology developed during World War II was found to be especially effective in reducing the high death rates that dominated the LDRs. With the new IGOs (WHO) to distribute this new technology, mortality fell rapidly in many countries, leading to rapid increases in population. That human population growth was soon seen to be a major impediment to economic development and a new set of IGOs (UNFPA, USAID etc.,) and INGOs (IPPF) emerged to promote fertility limitation. By the mid-1960s they were aided immensely by the development of a new non-coitally specific contraceptive technology (IUDs oral pills, injections subdermal implants etc.,). One very important aspect of the new mortality and fertility reducing technology is that they were what Ness and Ando (1984) call 2. In this study, Brechin had four dependent variables or, more accurately, sensitizing concepts: program entrance or when did the respective organizations begin their social forestry programs?; level of commitment or the amount of resources and level of activity each organization engaged in this new program; program appropriateness, or where did these organizations work? Were they in the countries and regions most in need of assistance?; and finally, program performance or how well did each organization do in directly making their program serve the rural poor?


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bureaucratically portable; they could be carried by large-scale bureaucratic organizations and distributed rapidly through a wide population. In effect, they permitted dramatic reductions in mortality and fertility without requiring widespread changes in deeply embedded patterns of human reproductive behavior. Again, it was easy to see the organizations carrying these new technologies varied immensely in specific characteristics that affected their effectiveness. In health, for example, the World Bank gave many loans to promote health. But the standards by which it judged its field officers—the loan to labor ratio—usually meant the bank gave large loans for state-of-the-art hospitals in large cities, when the need was primarily for large numbers of small primary health clinics in the rural areas. A striking illustration of the difference this can make is seen in the contrast of Indian and Chinese health strategies. The Chinese (with no external assistance) developed the “barefoot doctors” program that greatly extended paramedics to the rural areas, which brought the infant mortality rate down at an exceptionally rapid rate. India chose major hospitals with bank loans, even further restricting the use of paramedics, resulting in far slower infant mortality reductions.3 The WHO and the World Bank also worked to assist the new population policies that attempted to reduce fertility. Finkle and Crane (1976) had shown how specific organizational characteristics of the WHO obstructed fertility decline programs. Moreover, Ness pointed out that though the World Bank gave substantial loans for population programs, it does not track the extent to which those loans are drawn down, thus it really has no idea how much it is providing to population programs. The overall lessons from these and many other experiences in tracking organizational attempts to promote economic development and human welfare simply confirmed the basic observations learned from Selznick and others: Organizations matter, and the specific characteristics they develop over time play a large role in determining both what they will do and how effective they will be. However, without surprise, the literature in organizational sociology has evolved over the decades. Our 1988 paper and our earlier work focused less intently on the nature of the environment in which these organizations worked nor the importance of organizational networks. Today these would be seen as major oversights. In the sections below, we review some of the more significant changes in the sociological literature on organizations. With that said, IO and IR scholars have made considerable use of organizational theory to inform their work. We review some of those key developments next. IO Scholars and Organizational Sociology: Toward a Contingency Theory of IGO Action? A number of IR scholars have focused on the sociology of IOs. This has been especially true of such scholars as Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore, among a number of others. Dikjzeul and Beigbeder (2004:7) credit Jonsson (1986) as likely the first scholar to point out the gap between organizational sociology and the study of IOs (and also focusing on organizational networks—a real pioneer). Dikjzeul and Beigbeder along with their collaborators focus on the failure of IR theory to fully incorporate a more dynamic appreciation of IOs, especially IGO relationships with INGOs, whose numbers and activities have proliferated in recent decades on 3. Ness calculated that had India been able to achieve the IMR that China achieved by 1980, it would have saved some thirty million infants from an early death. This is about the number of Chinese deaths from famine as a result of China’s disastrous Great Leap Forward 1958.


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the world stage. However, Dijkzeul and Beigbeder’s main point is on the need for IR scholars to focus greater attention on the actual management issues IGOs face. There seem to be limited contributions regarding those concerns. How do IGOs organize their work, acquire and manage resources, navigate tricky environments, and deal with particular failings or achieve success? Here the authors point to the need to investigate the literature and theories found in organizational sociology but also public administration. We would agree. In many regards public administration literature and perspectives may be closer in content than organizational sociology, given the common focus on the administration of collective goods.4 Dijkzeul and Beigbeder, along with their contributors, explore a number of these questions from the United Nations itself as well as change and transformation at the UN Conference in Trade and Development (UNCTD) due to environmental changes. Barnett and Finnemore, especially with their 2004 book Rules for the World, have made the most detailed and convincing statement in applying established sociological perspectives to the study of IOs. In our opinion they argue successfully in explaining how IGOs create autonomy from powerful states. They begin with the statement that “we can better understand what IOs do if we better understand what IOs are” (Barnett and Finnemore 2004:9). In their volume, they expand upon some of their important earlier work to explore the International Monetary Fund, United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, and the United Nations Secretariat. What these authors focused on is the autonomous nature of IOs creating both bureaucratic capacity and failings. Similar to our 1988 paper, Barnett and Finnemore maintain a critical focus on the question of organizational action and performance. Drawing upon sociology’s major early contributions to the study of complex formal organizations, these scholars clearly acknowledge the duality of organizations as both technical production systems created to achieve rationally identified goals, and an adaptive social system that give them independent capacities, limitations, and pathologies. Here they draw upon the classical insights of Max Weber on the nature of bureaucracies including the control of information, construction of knowledge and expertise under a hierarchy of offices and system of rules, aligned around the legitimacy of these legal-rational authority structures, along with the relentless pursuit of mission. Most of the book illustrates quite convincingly the relatively autonomous nature of IOs from state actors in various ways but particularly through the creation and use of bureaucratic rules to act and create social reality. We find below that this basic observation continues to be shared in sociological contributions to IOs as well. Yet while Barnett and Finnemore (and others) have succeeded in demonstrating independent bureaucratic capacity of IGOs separate from states, they do not fully explore the competition and cooperation among the IGOs given scarce resources or the broader environments which IGOs and states are both embedded. 4. Of interest, departments of public administrations throughout the U.S. at least have been reorganizing their curriculum in an effort to keep up dramatic changes in organizational environments of public agencies, including better understanding public agencies in different parts of the world. These rapid changes are largely the result of the global spread of neoliberalism ideology and forces of globalization making the world more interconnected and in endless flux. Demand for greater efficiencies, tighter budgets, and more timely and effective decisions are changing the nature of public agencies, especially in Western countries. Privatization and governance engagement with other actors and stakeholders has changed the very notion of public management. Are IGOs even though viewed as non-state actors feeling the same or different set of pressures as found in the public agencies of Western democracies? Given the rise of global culture and pressures, one would expect they are. Perhaps public administration departments will continue to internationalize their curriculum to more discussion of IGOs and their changing administrative needs? (see O’Leary, Van Slyke, and Kim 2010).


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While Barnett and Finnemore’s work was essential in explaining the sources of bureaucratic capacity that provides IGOs with some agency from nation-states, we sociologists have little to add to that discussion today. It is not that the topic of bureaucracies is unimportant, but rather it is not seen as cutting edge. Our attention has been elsewhere. What is more cutting edge is exploring how the bureaucratic form of organizing, that is, how the centralized, hierarchical, and rule-bounded forms, is under ferocious attack from relentless environmental pressures. This is discussed in more detail below in another section. But questions emerge. Are the bureaucracies of IGOs feeling the same pressure to flatten their structures and streamline their processes as most other organizations? If so, how are those pressures affecting what IGOs do and how they do it? If IGOs are not experiencing these pressures (which is unimaginable) or not as intently as other organizations (which is plausible), why? This would be exceedingly interesting to explore in detail. Are the environments of IGOs different and allowing them to maintain more or less their hierarchical structures and routines? On the questions of the operation of bureaucracy per se, public administration is more likely to provide more insight as it has remained a relatively more active area of research. For example, see Ralph P. Hummel’s (2008) the Bureaucratic Experience.5 In a 2008 paper, some of which is repeated in the introduction to this special issue, Martin Koch moves the discussion forward considerably by seeing IGOs more as organizations than state creations. We applaud this notion. Here he articulates a stronger separation between IGOs and states by arguing that they are world organizations with much broader mandates, actions, and effects. In a growing number of cases, IGOs are monitoring and sanctioning states themselves, even powerful ones (see Hurd 2011). Koch and Stetter (see the introduction) make constructive use of three metaphors that place IGOs in a particularly different light based on their varying degree of connectedness to states—IGOs as instruments, arenas, and as more independent actors (although we would prefer the concepts of embedded and interdependent actors; see below). What is conceptually important here is to suggest that these metaphors may apply to different IGOs or the same one across different contexts, activities, and or time. We view Koch’s innovative thinking as very much more in line with the thinking of organizational sociologists. Here we see more an expansive and fluid view of IGOs as organizations in different contexts; even powerful states may be a particular yet limited stakeholder in the IGO’s environment. There are other influences and processes at work beyond simply states shaping organizational realities. This broader view of organizations and their environment highlights possible limitations in using principal-agent theory with IGOs as it connects them much too closely to nation-states. While such a theory has utility in examining those specific dynamics between two actors, it may be limiting in view of broader environmental influences. Meta-organizations have garnered some attention recently (e.g., Ahrne and Brunsson 2008). While recognizing slight differences among organizations comprised of individuals versus other organizations might be useful to some, organizational sociologists would not tend to treat them as conceptually different. In fact, John Meyer (2010) considers individuals to be agentic actors as are organizations, lessening the distinction. The institution can be diffused by individuals’ actions as well as by organizations’ actions. Also, 5. Other key literature on bureaucracies likely useful to IR scholars include Svensson, Trommel, and Lantink (2008), Gains and John (2010), and Wise (2004).


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in order to exist, all organizations must engage, recruit, and retain participants—whether those participants are individuals or other organizations. This is basic organizational theory with roots in the natural system perspective (see Scott and Davis 2007). Various business and industrial groups have existed for some time such as Chambers of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers. In that way, IGOs could be seen as examples of a type of membership-based organizations comprised of nation-states with various levels of governance responsibilities as does Ahrne and Brunsson. Another way of viewing meta-organizations is as a tightly knitted network of organizations (see Benjamin et.al. 2011), or discussions of networked organizations, engaged in nature protection. But not all network members would be created equal, and variance in the level of influence should be noted. Meta-organizations would also illustrate the imaginative ideas of Karl Weick (1976) who viewed organizations as loosely coupled systems. While the term “autonomous” makes sense given the historical context of the debate found among the perspectives in earlier IR literature, we do not find it an appropriate term. (Note: we have used the term the same way as IR scholars have above to signal our understanding of that earlier context.) Current sociological theory would not consider any organization truly autonomous. Rather, organizations are empowered and constrained in numerous ways depending upon the specific context and related processes and relative organizational capabilities. Various degrees of actor agency would be a more accurate way of characterizing this understanding for a focal organization of an organizational set. More recent research by IR scholars, as noted above, IGOs have been shown to have varying degrees of agency while embedded in levels of environments. These environments are filled with opportunities, resources, threats, and constraints, both material and nonmaterial and at various scales. To some this focus on terms may seem an exercise in semantics, but word choice and framing often matter. States can be powerful stakeholders in the environments of IGOs. IGOs can be powerful stakeholders in the environments of many states. Future IR research may want to focus more on the organizational characteristics, strengths, and environmental conditions that provide IGOs with various levels of agency and impact. Which specific configurations of characteristics and environmental conditions actually shape specific behaviors and actions of any given IGO? How might IGOs contribute to the environment of states and even larger macro-processes such as neoliberalism (e.g., the World Trade Organization or the International Monetary Fund, or the World Bank)? One might present this as a type of contingency theory of IGO agency—from limited to expansive agency. Sociological Contributions to the Study of IOs and IR As we noted in our introduction, sociology as a discipline has failed largely to focus consciously on IOs as organizations. Organizational sociologists increasingly are making fewer distinctions among types of organizations. This is discussed in greater detail below. However, sociologists (among most other social scientists) have developed keen interest in globalization processes and the neoliberalism agenda. These developments along with the rise of important international agreements have provided an avenue for some more recent contributions by sociologists on the consequences of IGOs on larger society to the more limited world of states and IGOs. In this section we now discuss selected sociological literature relevant to the study of IOs and IR.


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Michael Goldman’s Imperial Nature Perhaps one of the most important recent exceptions in utilizing sociological perspectives to study IOs is Michael Goldman’s 2005 well-received book on the World Bank. In his book, Goldman explores the well-worn path on the power of the international development banks. What makes his book particularly exciting is that he conducts an organizational analysis but draws upon sociological theory largely outside of traditional organizational sociology. In particular, Goldman makes use of both Michel Foucault’s notion of “power/knowledge”6 as well as Antonio Gramsci’s famous concept of “cultural hegemony” to understand why the bank has become so dominant in promoting its particular brand of “sustainable development” largely informed by a neoliberalism-based worldview. Foucault (1977:27) links power and knowledge in the following way: Knowledge linked to power, not only assumes the authority of “the truth” but has the power to make itself true. All knowledge, once applied in the real world, has effects, and in that sense at least, “becomes true.” Knowledge, once used to regulate the conduct of others, entails constraint, regulation and the disciplining of practice. Thus, there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time, power relations. Goldman draws also upon Antonio Gramsci’s concept of “cultural hegemony” (Gramsci 1971). Here Gramsci attempts to explain the failure of workers’ revolutions in Mussolini’s fascist Italy by arguing that the success of society’s dominant ruling class in manipulating that society’s cultural views and values to the degree where the elite’s cultural values and views became the shared vision of meaning and acceptability for the entire society.7 What Goldman showed was how the bank constructed its own concept of sustainability, one that strongly favors a version supported by global economic elites, through its self-generated scholarship from its own reports and position papers. Given its relative wealth and power, what makes the World Bank unique as an IO is its ability to construct policy documents with its own funding programs. The bank in effect specifically operationalizes its own constructions of cultural appropriateness at a global scale. Through ongoing workshops, the bank trains development officers both within the bank itself, as well as officials from the developing world, in the bank’s approach to sustainability. These trained officials demanded the bank’s loan projects be designed around the bank’s concepts of sustainable development projects. The bank then creates an “authority of ‘the truth’” and shapes those requesting development loans to favor the particular programs from the bank and then makes those concepts reality on the ground. In short, the bank “makes itself true.” Officers within the bank and those external to it mutually reinforce the bank’s own concepts of sustainable development. In essence, within the global development community, the bank defines appropriate sustainable development, and it becomes the world’s dominant definition. Through bank action, the world community is provided a dominant cultural model of sustainability, built around the bank’s support of market-based concepts of neoliberalism. The bank’s hegemony over cultural 6. This is not to say that there is not a literature focusing on Foucault’s contributions to organizational studies (see McKinley and Starkey 1998). 7. Of course, Gramsci is well represented in the IR literature (see Gill 1993).


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models of sustainability has overshadowed other competing models of appropriate sustainable development. The bank’s model gives greater legitimacy to the marketplace actors and approaches while delegitimizing those efforts by citizen groups, governments, and others who favor a more collective action or protection of public goods approach to addressing issues of sustainability. In more conceptual terms, the World Bank—shaped by broader environmental influences of neoliberalism ideology—has operationalized those values on the ground in its own terms, reifying them through its actions that have substantial and real consequences affecting how particular nation-states act and their multitudes of individuals and communities around the world. Sarah Babb—Behind the Development Banks Another well-received study of IOs, also on development banks, is sociologist’s Sarah Babb’s 2009 book Behind the Development Banks. The study focuses on domestic U.S. politics, particularly the interplay among congress, the U.S. administration, and bank officials, and how those interactions favor U.S. interests. Here the relationships are incredibly fluid over time regarding the specific politics being played out at that moment, but the common theme rests largely on how the bank’s development programs support American businesses, in particular those in the districts of powerful committee members of congress. What is interesting here is how the U.S. government shapes some of the policies and actions of these international development banks. At first blush, this may appear to be a throwback to the realist perspective of state control of IGOs. However, organizational sociologists would not tend to view organizations as fully controlled or isolated from other powerful actors. We view Babb’s study, however, to be more in the spirit of Philip Selznick’s famous 1949 study of the Tennessee Valley Authority on the politics of organization, or how organizations must adjust to powerful environmental challenges while attempting to promote their own objectives and interests. Political scientists and sociologists would both likely agree on the influence the U.S. government has had on international development banks given the historic rise of international development assistance with U.S. ascendancy following the end of World War II. From an organizational sociological perspective, however, the U.S. government would simply be seen as a powerful actor in the environments of these banks. The U.S. government has always been and remains a major financial supporter of these organizations, with U.S. representation on their governance structures as well. Congress, however, with its control over cash outlays, makes the U.S. government a particularly powerful stakeholder in their technical environments. These realizations tap into powerful theories on organizations, such as the Resource Dependency Theory (e.g., Pfeffer and Salancik 1978) that focuses on power differences and relationships among organizations and strategies to manage them. Control over resources as well as governance arrangements are obviously important sources of power. All organizations are dependent upon resources controlled to varying degrees by other actors in their respective environments. This lays the groundwork for the delicate dance between greater organizational agency pursued by leaders and the reality of dependent relationships. While Babb focuses on the U.S. influence on these organizations, she does not focus on how bank managers adjust to these influences. What strategies do they employ to minimize troubling dependencies and leverage advantageous ones? How do the managers interpret these forces?


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And how do they and the internal constituencies navigate them to achieve the objectives they desire? An analysis answering these types of questions would provide completely different insights on these banks and their operations. A Sociological Reexamination of the Montreal Protocol—Brian Gareau’s From Precaution to Profit Another sociological example looks at the network of organizations and related international governance structures that shapes international agreements, in this case the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Brian Gareau (2013) investigates recent developments in this important environmental convention that regulates harmful gases related to ozone layer depletion in our planet’s upper atmosphere. This scholar focuses on the influence the broader cultural environment has had on the actors of environmental policy and practice. Gareau argues that the rise of neoliberalism over the last several decades has reshaped this critical international agreement. He explores the more recent discussion of the protocol’s phase out of the chemical methyl bromide, a powerful ozone-depleting substance used largely as a soil sterilant in the production of various seeds as well as other products. Of interest, the chemical is a far more potent ozone destroyer than chlorine from refrigerants, the original focus of the protocol. It is also incredibly harmful to human health. The phase out of methyl bromide was not a part of the original agreement but was added to the protocol phase-out list in 1990 as part of the London Amendment. The U.S. is the largest user of the chemical. With market-based ideology growing in both the rhetoric and reality of government action globally, Gareau noticed shifts in discourse and ensuing power dynamics among the organizational actors in the international arena from the original agreement and later efforts to amend it. While the amendment to the protocol required a phase out of methyl bromide, the U.S. government, with urging from industry, fought hard to obtain exemptions for some of its use, particularly for strawberry production. The environmental NGO community provided little resistance and, in fact, focused their efforts around finding more market-based solutions to the problem. Gareau’s analysis is in sharp contrast to the original scholarly research that touted the diplomatic and environmental successes of this international convention by Benedick (1998) and Canan and Reichman (2001). These scholars in both examinations hailed this convention as a model for future global environmental treaties although on different dimensions. Gareau’s work emphasizes that shifts in the broader organizational environment matter significantly and that in this case neoliberalism has changed culturally the support for new power dynamics among the existing governance structure. The rise of neoliberalism helped to shift the narrative of the Montreal Protocol away from the “healthy” notion of precaution to one for the greater protection of profit. As Gareau (2013:3) states, “This emphasis on the free market, however, has a way of changing the ways actors engage, debate, and interpret knowledge—including the Montreal Protocol.” What Gareau uncovers is that with this ideology, powerful states, industry players, and even expected watchdogs—environmental NGOs, were in greater realignment with the principle of profit over precaution (also see Gareau 2012). In more conceptual terms, changes in values in the broader environment in which most organizational actors are embedded shifted the power dynamics among the key organizational actors within the later negotiations of this regime, giving more power to corporations with greater state support while diminishing the influence of civil society organizations.


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The Economic Sociology of IGOs—The Work of Paul Ingram Perhaps the most exciting example of how sociology and the study of IGOs/IR have converged in recent years is through the imaginative and thoughtful work of Columbia University sociologist Paul Ingram. With collaborators, Ingram has explored IGOs in several complementary ways—as in examining IGO performance engaged in particular activities such as economic relations, peace, and democracy as well as their ability to provide the context for interstate network connections. This later focus is accomplished through exploring the growth and decline of IGOs over time through organizational ecology perspectives (see Hannan and Freeman 1989). What binds the two works we examine here is his examining of IGOs as part of organizational networks. Network theory has greatly influenced organizational and economic sociology in recent decades. There seems to be a similar interest in networks in IR theory as well. Organizational networks quickly lead one to issues of governance arrangements, which of course is a central focus within IR. We return to that observation in the conclusion. In a 2005 article, Ingram and collaborators attempt to answer a question that IR scholars have been asking for years—what impact, if any, do IGOs have on nation-states and world affairs? In this article, Ingram et al., ask a more specific question in this vein—do IGOs, such as the World Trade Organization, facilitate or hinder trade among member states? Here they cite Jacobson and colleagues (1986) who argued that at best the evidence historically has been mixed. Drawing upon economic sociology’s concept of “embeddedness” (Grandovetter 1985; Uzzi 1996),8 or the number and quality of network connections among actors, the effects IGOs have had in encouraging trade within the European Union (EU) can be explored. While IGOs promote institutions, it is the embeddedness of actor connections that seem to facilitate trade. They argue that the EU’s success in increasing trade was not simply the result of establishing institutions but the creation of an integrated society through the actions of IGOs. In their study, Ingram and his coauthors demonstrate that two types of IGOs have important effects on EU trade—economic IGOs or EIGOs and social-cultural IGOs or SCIGOs. The greater the number of connections made by SCIGOs among nation states the lower the transaction costs, supporting greater economic activity. The authors argue that the social and cultural integration generated by the SCIGOs made the actions of EIGOs more effective. So those state actors with the greatest connections increased in trade compared to those actors who had fewer. In fact, with their quantitative analyses, the authors measured the actual impact. They note that “doubling the level of connections between two countries across all IGOs is associated with a 58% increase in trade” (Ingram and Busch 2005:850). The authors conclude that there may be other connectivity factors here as well, such as efforts by INGOs or multinational corporations. Still, the role of IGOs in promoting integration and interstate trade was clear. This illustrates wonderfully the importance different kinds of organizations can make as we argued in our 1988 paper. Not all organizations are alike; their impacts may differ. This work seems to support the long-established Functionalist Theory of IR (Mitrany 1976). Do these findings give this old theory new life? In a 2010 article, Paul Ingram and Magnus Thor Torfason expanded upon in part the 2005 research by using an organizational population-ecology approach to explore IGOs 8. In Uzzi’s well-known article, he showed that actors suffered from too few as well as too many network connections; there was a happy middle ground.


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founding and death related to network connections in pursuing three activities—trade, peace, and democracy. They call these IGOs “network weavers” as these actors provided the context that facilitated, or made possible the weaving of, connections between nation-states. It is a complex, multi-dimensional study, but the results are exciting. Using a population-ecology approach to IGOs, Ingram and Torfason chart organizational density (births minus deaths) from 1815 to 2000. They demonstrate that as the number of IGOs increases so do the number of potential number of bilateral state ties. The relationship is nearly one to one. While this is what IR theories and others have long argued, or at least hoped for, this work confirms that basic relationship but also provides more nuanced insights. From a population-ecology perspective, the growth in the number of IGOs would suggest there are resources available for such growth creating greater competition and performance among IGOs and perhaps other actors. The authors continue by stating the following: “IGOs are more likely to be founded and less likely to fail when they incorporate easier affiliations, particularly those between states that are similarly democratic and geographically proximate. IGOs that incorporate affiliations that are particularly valuable were both more likely to be founded and more likely to fail, with valuable affiliations being those between states that had recently warred and those with more dyadic trade” (Ingram and Torfason 2010:598). They go on to find that IGOs that span structural holes (Burt 1992), i.e., those actors that connect two completely separate networks (which may be rare in IR), were less likely to fail. The authors show there are greater IGO births and fewer deaths when the citizens of the states engage actively with NGOs. These findings suggest a positive interdependency between IGOs and NGOs. Ingram and Torfason conclude with ideas for future research. Specifically, they suggest that future research may want to explore the variation among the IGOs, such as by sector, and what particular impacts they may have on respective global actors and processes. New Institutionalism and World Society Theory New institutionalism theory represents a cultural turn in organizational sociology (see Meyer and Rowan 1977 as a foundational piece; see too Scott 2008). It challenges rational choice theory by arguing that organizational structure and action may not always be rooted in utilitarian pursuits. Rather, organizations pursue courses of action for the sake of securing legitimacy from the larger environment sometimes through the construction of myth and ceremony. It should be noted, however, that greater legitimacy does typically translate to material resources by signaling to others the organization’s appropriateness. In that sense, such efforts should be viewed as strategic.9 Additional work (DiMaggio and Powell 1983; and Powell and DiMaggio 1991) has argued that those organizations sharing the same organizational fields (or industrial sectors), or more tightly embedded and networked organizations who engage each other often are affected by similar external pressures, typically look and behave similarly through several processes of isomorphism. New institutionalism illustrates exceptionally well how organizational sociology and the study of IOs have come much closer together (see Barnett and Finnemore 2004; but especially Finnemore 1993; Finnemore and Sikkink 1998). Barnett and Finnemore (1999:700), citing 9. Before going too far and assuming that new-institutionalism remains rooted in rationality, see work by Frank Dobbin (1994; 1997). In these two pieces Dobbin convincingly argues that rationality itself is culturally based.


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Kranser (1983) state that “Regimes are ‘principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures’; they are not actors.” This sounds right in that organizational actors typically are players in the construction and maintenance of regimes and are not the regimes themselves. However, regimes too are processes created and observed by organizational actors, but who are then shaped by the constructed processes themselves as well as by broader norms, values, and material realities found in the even broader environment. Regimes then become part of the embeddedness for those organizations they engage directly, and they may have larger consequences for others. This parallels sociology’s critical but sometimes fuzzy distinction between institutions and organizations (see Scott 2008; Selznick 1996). In fact, IR regimes are used by Scott (2008:79) as an example of particular type of institutional process. What we like about the concept of regime, beyond a simple understanding as an international agreement, is that it combines actors and activities, discourse and norms collectively created to address a collective action problem. But it is the network of actors engaged in processes that shape that collective reality for others, not simply a single actor. International regimes become equivalent to an organizational field for those organizations engaged in that regime. These networked organizations likely face similar pressures and would likely begin to look and act more similar to one another. This moves the discussion of organizations in a different yet important direction to networks of actors embedded in process. We return to this important observation in the next example below. In sociology, our social theories “have tended to see human social life as embedded in institutions, or as exogenous patterns of meaning and organization” (see Jepperson 1991 as cited in Meyer 2010:2). To us, this view takes us back to Hedly Bull’s notion of the society of states but perhaps with slightly less emphasis on the states (or perhaps more as a system in which states are becoming increasingly less influential). Organizational sociologist John Meyer and colleagues (1997) in an IO article introduced a broader yet compelling understanding of “environmental regime,” somewhat different from that of IR scholars. This article introduced to the IR community Meyer’s concept of “world society” that defined a world environmental regime “as a partially integrated collection of world-level organizations, understandings, and assumptions that specify the relationship of human society to nature” (Meyer et al., 1997:263). A version of new institutionalism has expanded into a broader concept called “world society” or earlier known as “world polity” (see Krucken and Drori 2009 for a recent excellent comprehensive volume on the theory). The point here is that while IR regime theory is incredibly useful in understanding norms, agreements, and processes around addressing a particular international problem, such as regulation of gasses depleting our ozone layer, there are broader socio-cultural processes at work that need to be recognized. These larger processes affect IGOs, other organizations, nation states, and larger constituencies. They provide the cultural foundations and processes for IR regimes themselves. In sum, IR regimes should likely be seen as a narrower and more specific, tightly bounded set of processes and expectations typically managed by and involving a particular set of organizational actors. There are other broader norms and processes that occur beyond those tied specifically to international conventions. These shape our world culturally and symbolically providing the essential backdrop for these more narrow actions.


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As an outgrowth of new institutionalism, World Society Theory stands in sharp contrast as well to the core material power perspectives behind cultural trends and consequences offered by Michael Goldman, Sarah Babb, and Brian Gareau above, but it can, although it rarely does, recognize the biases of an established world order regarding what becomes institutionalized and how. But it is what becomes institutionalized and diffused that matters. Meyer (2010) makes the case for agentic actors—from individuals to all organizational actors, including nation-states that create environments of the institutionalized that influence the behavior of all actors as the result of global diffusion. So it is a type of structuration—of actors at all levels involved in both creating change in patterned relationships while reinforcing them. Hence, the role of interdependent actors in World Society Theory is clear as both carriers and recipients in the global diffusion of cultural values, practices, ideas, innovations, and structures. Still one needs to be mindful of the full range of actors involved from individuals to civil society organizations at all scales, social movements, ideas and ideologies, firms, international public bodies, and nation-states. As in new institutionalism, the objective of World Society Theory is to understand the diffusion of similar ways of doing and being globally across numerous domains. IOs are seen as important carriers of global (i.e., dominant) culture largely through the distribution of rationalized scientific information and findings as well as professionalized knowledge and practices (Krucken and Drori 2009:13). Meyer (2010) sees nation-states themselves as recipient actors of cultural diffusion from IGOs who acquire them from institutionalized concepts and practices or the cultural construction of social agency at the global level through world society. Institutions confer status, identity, and rights to social actors. They provide as well these actors with schemata for making sense of the world. For interesting examples regarding the global diffusion of environmental protection efforts see work by David Frank and colleagues (2000) and an equally interesting critique from the late Frederick Buttel (2000). Those interested in how the international community might prolong civil wars in weak states, see Ann Hironaka’s 2005 book the Neverending Wars. What we find in the earlier works by Finnemore (1993) and Finnemore and Sikkink (1998) is a focus on the role of IGOs like UNESCO in diffusing values and policies through their actions. What they observe is a more fine-grained analysis of actual actors at work in the diffusion through World Society Theory. John Boli has done similar work looking at INGOs as diffusing global culture (see Boli and Thomas, 1998). World Society Theory and current perspectives in IR seem to illustrate extraordinarily well the convergence between organizational sociology and the study of IOs. Recent Developments in Organizational Sociology It is not surprising that the perspectives of both organizational sociology and international relations have changed over the last twenty-five years. In fact, one would be more surprised if they had not. Yet few things are truly new. Rather, with time comes new found emphasis on concepts introduced earlier. Below we highlight some of those changes in organizational sociology and raise a few questions hopefully relevant to the study of IGOs. The literature we covered in our 1988 paper, especially regarding the five elements of organizations (goals, technology, participants, structure and environment) and their analysis, as related to performance, is not inaccurate today. Rather, the field has moved on; there are


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new insights and emphases. As is likely obvious by now, organizational sociology continues to value the importance of environmental influences on organizations and their structure and behavior. This comes through clearly in our discussions above. Interest in organizational networks has gained considerable attention in recent decades along with the shift from organization as entity to organization as process. Here we increasingly see organizations as little more than semi-bounded internal networks of information flows and decision making. Organizations connecting with other organizations have become an even greater focus more recently even though the advent of the open systems perspective articulated the importance of growing environmental turbulence in shaping organizational realities. To help us reflect briefly on these new changes in organizational sociology, we draw upon the thinking of organizational sociologist, W. Richard Scott. In 2004, Scott provided a reflection of his fifty years of scholarship in this field; we have reorganized them slightly. He places these recent developments into three major areas: changing boundaries and strategies, changing power processes, and changing concepts of organizations as entities to processes (also see Scott and Davis 2007). We see these discussions as having relevance to both IOs and IR. Changing Boundaries and Strategies Originally viewed as more or less closed or bounded social systems, our conceptualizations of organizations have evolved over the decades, and especially with the rise of the open systems perspective. Today, organizations are seen as much more porous and ever changing. Instead of closed-bounded systems, they are now seen as nearly borderless. What activities and participants are included within an organization and which ones are excluded takes us essentially to the theoretical perspective of Transaction Cost Analysis (Williamson 1975, 1985). With greater environmental turbulence due to economic and cultural globalization and rapid changes in technologies, especially communication based, among many other influences requires organizations to be far more reactive to changing global conditions of a “smaller” world, highlighting more environmental threats and opportunities alike. This combined with neoliberal principles of market supremacy has dramatically changed the landscape for all organizations. As a consequence, managers have changed strategies of “internalization” or of adding additional activities and structures into the organization to one of “externalization” or eliminating activities and structures from their boundaries. Hence, managers search for greater flexibility in what their organizations look like and how best to respond to these changing conditions. Organizations and their managers today tend to take on more temporary activities and structures over relatively short periods of time making organizations more flux than stable. These include downsizing and outsourcing formerly internal functions to other organizations. So strategies then include external contracts, strategic alliances, short-term project teams, and the like to enhance flexibility (also see DiMaggio 2001; Salamon 2002, 2012). Streamlining and developing alliances or contracting with other organizations for services, workers, or components related to production or service processes can provide for greater flexibility and at times greater efficiencies. Third-party outsourcing and contracts have been a hallmark of this new era. These developments should be seen as forms of interorganizational relationships. Governments too have been particularly engaged in various reforms such as


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new government, e-government, and the like that also engage issues of outsourcing and privatization of state functions (see Brechin and Salas 2011; Salamon 2002; VanSlyke 2007). While the privatization of government services is usually encouraged for reasons of efficiency and performance, actual studies show these gains are rarely realized rationally, but symbolically they carry significant weight in a neoliberal world. However, such outsourcing of government or public activities, especially to private third parties, may challenge the very notion of government in many nation-states. Are there activities of the public and nonprofit sectors that should not be outsourced, such as policing or military capabilities? To what degree have IGOs been swept up into this neoliberalism belief in private sector efficiencies over public control and meanings? Are state functions being outsourced to IGOs? If so, what are the consequences of those efforts on these organizations and the constituencies they serve? Are IGOs outsourcing their own function(s) to other actors? Or are IGOs unique and have escaped these types of pressures and changes? If so, what makes them unique? Changing Power Processes Under this heading, Scott focuses on two types of changes related to power and control—internal to organizations and the effects organizations can have on larger society. Regarding the first, rapid environmental changes, especially globalization, have placed increasing pressure on the effectiveness of traditional unity hierarchical structures. Tall bureaucracies are famous for their ability to control workers and work processes, and increasingly for their inefficiencies due to time delays and distortions of information and instructions as they move up and down the hierarchy. However, with flat or more horizontal structures, such as temporary work teams, greater professionalization, and outsourcing activities to others, how do managers maintain control over work and workers? For public sector management, this has been a growing central concern in public administration programs as they engage new strategies and expertise. Emphasis has shifted from less supervisory management to more collaborative governance and from managing individuals to more managing contracts (also see Brown et al. 2006; Salamon 2002). However, managing contracts may provide greater flexibility to the organizations and their managers by giving them the ability to add, eliminate, or change contracts, better matching organizational needs to rapidly changing conditions. They also lose direct control over the day to day activities and ability to intervene if needed unless provided for by the contract. Other organizations, even under contract, tend to demonstrate their own autonomy. However, ownership over specific functions does not always guarantee control as well. Here principal-agent theories become extraordinarily relevant to this type of discussion (see Van Slyke 2007). Where vertical bureaucratic structures remain, it is either the result of more conducive environments or the necessity for command and control over operations, that is, strict accountability for which bureaucracies are famous, and are likely required. It is also true that vertical structures work well when the environment is stable and the technology well known. Government organizations as public monopolies also typically have both less-selective environments and needs for stricter accountability to stakeholder groups such as the general public or nation-states. These needs lead managers to greater reliance on the construction of various types of organizational networks to overcome limitations of a single actor. How are these types of power and control needs affecting the management of IGOs today?


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Due to the global spread of neoliberalism ideology and the rise with it of the dominance of the markets in public life, market-based actors in particular have gained greater material and symbolic power in recent decades (Harvey 2005). Large corporations and their owners in particular, especially in the U.S., have asserted themselves politically (see in particular Perrow 2002) as legal persons with free speech rights and in greater control of nonprofit organizations of civil society (MacDonald 2008; Salamon 2012). Has the rise of politically active large corporations affected the management and outcomes of IGOs at a global scale? If so, what consequences have these powerful market actors had in shaping the management, activities, and outcomes of our intergovernmental organizations? Our above examples by Michael Goldman, Sara Babb, and Brian Gareau would suggest their influence is strong in ways that are direct and indirect. Changing Concepts from Organizational Entity to Process As noted several times above, organizational sociologists are increasingly focusing attention on how organizational structures and boundaries are ever changing. In short, organizations are becoming flatter and boundaries more porous. As noted already, vertical bureaucratic and relatively isolated structures appear to be under selective pressure from a changing environment. In a more turbulent, globalized world with instant communications requiring rapid decisions and greater competition from more actors, tall formalized structures tend to be at a growing disadvantage. Internal control mechanisms associated with hierarchy are being replaced by greater reliance on flatter team-based professionals internally and outsourcing to other organizations externally. These changes suggest smaller, more nimble organizations that work together (see ideas of the rise of the networked firm DiMaggio 2001; Perrow 2002; Scott 2004). Understanding organizations as more process or organizing than simply as static structures or entities emerges from more ecological views of organizations (Scott and Davis 2007:385). Organizations are continually evolving and changing to match the ever-changing and evolving set of environmental demands in which they are embedded. The process of continuous change then makes organizations in constant flux and transformation. Drawing upon the work of Mustafa Emirbayer (1997) and Karl Weick (1979), Scott highlights the rise of relational conceptions of organizations. As a social psychologist, Weick has long viewed “organization” as a noun and as a myth (Weick 1974:358). When looking at organizations, he instead sees organizing as individuals connected with others in processes of continuous and ongoing information exchange. Emirbayer sees organizations similarly as “inseparable from the transactional contexts in which they are embedded” (1997:287; also see Scott and Davis 2007:386), as structures or actors embedded in an ever-changing environmental context are in continual flux and transformation themselves. How does seeing IGOs more as process and less as entity change our understanding of IGOs? What is the nature of the processes within and among IGOs and their environments? Are they fundamentally different from other organizational actors given their transnational roles and membership-based organizations? Conclusion We have covered much ground. As we note, we see considerable convergence between organizational sociology and IOs. The gap we characterized in 1988 as “deep and persistent” appears to have narrowed substantially. This is exciting news as it suggests growing synergies


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between our two disciplines. The literature we reviewed also points to new gaps in our knowledge as well as new opportunities for future research. We present four possibilities for possible exploration. These include 1) differentiating the environments of IGOs; 2) exploring how IGO leadership navigates environmental pressures and dependencies; 3) better understanding the social legitimacy of IGOs; and 4) better understanding the organizational networks in global governance. First, while environmental influences are powerful in shaping all organizations, what are the particular influences faced by IGOs? While the macro-influences such as neoliberalism ideology and the institutionalized in world society have affected most organizations everywhere, what are the more unique forces shaping specific IGOs? This would add greatly to our understanding of IGOs and the pressures they face. How are market-based approaches and principles influencing the actions and effects of IGOs? Drawing upon organizational fields in new institutionalism, one would predict that actors within the same field would resemble one another. Or stated another way, what are the various organizational fields among IGOs and what are their respective impacts within those fields? Looking at established international regimes would be an obvious place to begin (see Gareau 2013 above). But are there others not directly tied to specific agreements? For example, what are the environments of each of the major UN agencies, like the Food and Agriculture Organization, or the UN Population Fund, which has been battered by the United States’ internal cultural wars over abortion? How similar and different are they from other agencies? And what consequences do these differences have on organizational performance and impacts? We see the need for IR and organizational scholars to investigate in greater detail the various environments IGOs engaged and are embedded within. We would expect IGOs to experience both similar and very different influences and varying state influence. Here one could argue for a contingency of environmental influences in IR with the greater recognition in the range of environmental forces of both IGOs and nation states as both responding to and creating them. Second, another potential area for future research would be on IGO leadership. Although we did not investigate this topic specifically given our meso-to-macro level focus, questions emerged from some of the literature we did discuss. How do these leaders navigate the powerful external forces and dependency relationships as well as internal demands? These types of questions surfaced with our discussion of Sarah Babb’s (2009) research on the development banks. What skills and resources are required to promote the more independent interests of these otherwise environmentally constrained organizations? How do IGO leaders and other powerful internal and external constituents define organizational interest? These types of works seem rare (see Dijkzeul and Beigbeder 2003; and Bhandari 2012 as partial exceptions.) Third, as noted briefly above, more recent organizational sociology has broadened and complicated the questions of organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Instead, these older ideas have been augmented with the concept of social fitness and the pursuit of legitimacy. The postmodern turn in sociology and the study of organizations argue that efficiency or effectiveness are questions that are based in social construction, that is, “effectiveness” based on whose definition or criteria? Equally, sociologists have gravitated to the process of organizational adaption to environmental pressures or to their elimination through “natural


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selection.” This view sees organizations more as adaptive social systems. The question of adaptation has been couched in terms of social fitness. The social fitness concept emerges from both new institutionalism and ecological views of organizations. Here organizations are appreciated as social systems embedded in larger environments shaped by a myriad of processes including cultural-cognitive understandings and other environmental pressures (see Powell and DiMaggio 1991; DiMaggio and Powell 1983; Scott and Davis 2007). With new institutionalism theory,10 organizations are shaped by these cultural pressures, especially those located within the same “industrial sectors” or organizational fields or of greater relevance to IR, regimes. They are shaped by cultural rules that signal to the larger environment of conformity and acceptance of those rules and norms through structural additions or changings, such as new offices, programs or procedures. Conformity brings legitimacy which allows access to various material resources, supporting organizational survival. How do IGOs signal their social fitness? Why is it the case that IGOs seem to be thriving? We believe some really interesting work could be geared to answering these kinds of questions. Finally, in recent decades, network theory has greatly influenced the sociological study of organizations and with them there has been growing appreciation of multi-actor engagement, including governance arrangements. There seems to be a growing interest in IR theory as well, but more attention may be warranted. Paul Ingram’s work appears to have opened a new world of opportunities—both in his creative use of population-ecological perspectives but also on the power and influence of networked relationships. While Ingram and collaborators focus on the influence of IGOs on state behavior and integration, their focus is largely on state actors. However, Ingram states the need to purse the effects of other important actors such as nongovernmental organizations, both domestic and international in setting the context for greater or lesser state integration. John Mathiason’s 2008 book, Internet Governance, illustrates too the changing nature of global governance, especially its fluidity of the task and the critical role private and nonprofit actors as well as nation-states play in regulating this crucial global activity. It illustrates well the processes of organizations and the complexity of engagement of actors beyond states. Finally, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s book, A New World Order on growing governmental networks and their underappreciated role in global governance is likely worth exploring organizationally as well. Are Slaughter’s observations similar to or different from those of Paul Ingram and collaborators? Are they observing the opposite sides of the same coin or are there different phenomena taking place? In short, are IGOs roles in promoting global governance changing? How are nation-states themselves adjusting to changing engagements with IGOs? As noted above, the environment seems to be supporting IGO growth. This would suggest world integration is providing important context for their development, but how exactly? What is cause, what is effect, and what is complementary or in conflict? While society and our disciplines have changed dramatically over the last quarter century, so have our organizational actors. Organizations shape our world in every way big and small. 10. New Institutionalism (see DiMaggio and Powell 1983, Powell and DiMaggio 1991) is in contrast to “old institutionalism” (sources: Selznick 1957, 1986). New institutionalism looks toward cultural explanations for why many organizations tend to look alike, especially those sharing a similar environment called organizational fields. Old institutionalism reflects Selznick’s observation that organizations develop a particular character, including its domains of operations, with built-in strengths and weaknesses all as a result of establishing themselves in hostile environments. In a 1986 article, however, Selznick (1986) argues that too fine of a distinction has been made between the old and the new.


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Our understanding may have changed along with their particular configurations, but what has remained is their enduring importance. It will be fascinating to watch what the next twentyfive years bring in our increasingly organized world. REFERENCES Ahrne, Goran and Nils Brunsson (2008) Meta Organizations, Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing. Babb, Sarah (2009) Behind the Development Banks: Washington Politics, World Poverty, and the Wealth of Nations, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Barnett, Michael N. and Martha Finnemore (1999) “The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations,” International Organization 53(4):699–732. Barnett, Michael N. and Martha Finnemore (2004) Rules of the World: International organizations in Global Politics, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Benedick, Richard E. (1998) Ozone Diplomacy: New Directions in Safeguarding the Planet, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Benjamin, Charles E., Steven R. Brechin, and Christopher A. Thoms (eds.) (2011) “Networking Nature: Network Forms of Organizing in Environmental Governance,” Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 3(3), Special Issue. Bhandari, Medani (2012) “Exploring the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) National Program Development in Biodiversity Conservation: A Comparative Study of India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh,” Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation: Syracuse University. Boli, John and George M. Thomas (eds.) (1991) Constructing World Culture: International Nongovernmental Organizations Since 1875, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. Brechin, Steven R. (1989) “International Organizations and Trees for People: A Sociological Analysis of the World Bank, FAO, CARE International, and their Work and Performance in Community Forestry,” Unpublished Dissertation. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. Brechin, Steven R. (1997) Planting Trees in the Developing World: A Sociology of International Organizations, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Brechin, Steven R. (2000) “Evaluation of Organizational Performance in Mountain Forestry Programmes,” in Martin F. Price and Nathalie Butt (eds.) Forests in Sustainable Mountain Development: A State of Knowledge Report for 2000, London: CBI International. Brechin, Steven R. and Osmany Salas (2011) “Government-NGO Networks & Nature Conservation in Belize: Examining the Theory of the Hollow State in a Developing Country Context,” Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 3(3):263–74. Brown, Trevor L., Matthew Potoski, and David M. Van Slyke (2006) “Managing public service contracts: Aligning values, institutions, and markets,” Public Administration Review 66(3):53–67. Bull, Hedely (2002) The Anarchical Society: The Study of Order in World Politics, 3rd Edition, New York: Columbia University Press. Burt, Ronald S. (1992) Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Buttel, Frederick H. (2000) “World Society, the Nation-State, and Environmental Protection: Comment on Frank, Hironaka, and Schofer,” American Sociological Review 65(1):117–21. Canan, Penelope and Nancy Reichman (2001) Ozone Connections: Expert Networks in Global Governance, Austin, TX: Greenleaf Publishing. Clarke, Lee (1991) Acceptable Risk: Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Clarke, Lee (1999) Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Dijkzeul, Dennis and Yyes Beigbeder (2003) “Introduction,” in Dennis Dijkzeul and Yves Beigbeder (eds.) Rethinking International Organizations: Pathologies & Promise, New York: Berghahn Books. DiMaggio, Paul J. and Walter W. Powell (1983) “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields,” American Sociological Review 48(2):147–60.


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DiMaggio, Paul J. (ed.) (2001) The Twenty-First Century Firm: Changing Economic Organizations in International Perspective, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dobbin, Frank (1994) “The Cultural Models of Organization: The Social Construction of Rational Organizing Principles,” in Diane Crane (ed.) The Sociological of Culture: Emerging Theoretical Perspectives, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. Dobbin, Frank (1997) Forging Industrial Policy: The United States, Britain, and France in the Railway Age, New York: Cambridge University Press. Ellis, David C. (2010) “The Organizational Turn in International Organization Theory,” Journal of International Organization Studies 1(1):11–28. Emery, Fredrick E. and Eric L. Trist (1965) “The Causal Texture of Organizational Environments,” Human Relations 18(1):21–32. Emirbayer, Mustafa (1997) “Manifesto for a Relational Sociology,” American Journal of Sociology 103(2):281–317. Etzioni, Amitai (1961) A Comparative Analysis of Complex Organizations, New York: Free Press. Finnemore, Martha (1993) “International Organizations as Teachers of Norms: The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and Science Policy,” International Organization 47(4):565–97. Finnemore, Martha (1996) “Norms, Culture and World Politics: Insights from Sociology’s Institutionalism,” International Organization 50(2):327–67. Finnemore, Martha and Kathryn Sikkink (1998) “International Norms Dynamic and Political Change,” International Organization 52(4):887–917. Finkle, Jason and Barbara Crane (1976) “The World Health Organization and the Population Issues: Organizational Values in the United Nations,” Population and Development Review 2(3–4):367– 93. Foucault, Michel (1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Trans. Alan Sheridan, New York: Vintage. Frank, John D., Ana Hironaka, and Evan Schofer (2000) “The Nation-State and the Natural Environment over the Twentieth Century,” American Sociological Review 65(1):96–116. Gains, Francesca and Peter John (2010) “What Do Bureaucrats Like Doing? Bureaucratic Preferences in Response to Institutional Reform,” Public Administration Review 70(3):455–63. Gareau, Brian J. (2012) “The Limited Influence of Global Civil Society: International Environmental NGOs and the Methyl Bromide Controversy in the Montreal Protocol,” Environmental Politics 21(1):88–107. Gareau, Brian J. (2013) From Precaution to Profit: Contemporary Challenges to Environmental Protection in the Montreal Protocol, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Gill, Stephen (Ed.) (1993) Gramsci, Historical Materialism and International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goldman, Michael (2005) Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Gramsci, Antonio (1982) Selections from the Prison Books. London, UK: Lawrence and Wishart. Granovetter, Mark (1985) “Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness,” American Journal of Sociology 91(3):481–510. Hannan, Michael T. (1984) “Structural Inertia and Organizational Change,” American Sociological Review 49(2):149–64. Hannan, Michael T. and John Freeman (1989) Organizational Ecology, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Harvey, David (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism, New York: Oxford University Press. Heiby, James, Gayl D. Ness, and Barbara Pillsbury (1979) “AID’s Role in Indonesian Family Planning,” USAID Program Evaluation Report No. 2, Washington, D.C., Agency for International Development, December. Hironaka, Ann (2005) Neverending Wars: The International Community, Weak States, and the Perpetuation of Civil War, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


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Hurd, Ian (2011) “Choices and Methods in the Study of International Organizations,” Journal of International Organization Studies 2(2):7–22. Ingram, Paul, Jeferry Robinson, and Marc L. Busch (2005) “The Intergovernmental Network of World Trade: IGO Connectedness, Governance and Embeddedness,” American Journal of Sociology 111(3):824–58. Ingram, Paul and Magnus T. Torfason (2010) “In-between: The Population Dynamics of Networkweaving Organizations in the Global Interstate Network,” Administrative Science Quarterly 55(4):577–605. Jacobson, Harold K., William R. Reisinger and Todd Mathers (1986) “National Entanglements in International Governmental Organizations” American Political Science Review 80(1):141–59. Jepperson Ron (1991) “Institutions, institutional effects, and institutionalism,” in Walter W. Powell and Paul J. DiMaggio (eds.) New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Jonsson, Christer (1986) “Interorganization Theory and International Organization,” International Studies Quarterly 30(1):39–57. Koch, Martin (2008) “International Organizations as World Organizations,” Paper presented at the 2nd Global International Studies Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 23–26 July. Krasner, Stephen D. (1983) International Regimes, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Krasner, Stephen D. (2009) Power, the State, & Sovereignty: Essays in International Relations, New York: Routledge Press. Kreijen, Gerard (ed.) (2012) State, Sovereignty, and International Governance, New York: Oxford University Press. Krucken, Georg and Gili S. Drori (eds.) (2009) World Society: The Writings of John W. Meyer, New York: Oxford University Press. Lawrence, Paul R. and Jay W. Lorsch (1967) Organization and Environment: Managing Differentiation and Integration, Boston, MA: Harvard University. Mathiason, John (2008) Internet Governance: The New Frontier of Global Institutions, New York: Routledge. McDonald, Christine (2008) Green, Inc. An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause has Gone Bad, Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. McKinley, Alan and Ken Starkey (eds.) (1998) Foucault, Management and Organizational Theory, Thousand Oak, CA: Sage Publications. Meier, Kenneth J. and Laurence J. O’Toole Jr. (2006) “Political Control versus Bureaucratic Values: Reframing the Debate,” Public Administration Review 66(2):177–92. Meyer, John W. and Brian Rowan (1977) “Institutional Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony,” American Journal of Sociology 83(2):340–63. Meyer, John W., David J. Frank, Ann Hironaka, Evan Schofer, and Nancy B. Tuma (1997) “The Structuring of a World Environmental Regime, 1870–1990,” International Organization 51(4):623–51. Meyer, John W. (2010) “World Society, Institutional Actors, and the Actor,” Annual Review of Sociology 36:1–20. Mitrany, David (1976) The Functional Theory of Politics, New York: St. Martin’s Press. Murphy, Craig N. and Joanne Yates (2009) The International Organization for Standardization (ISO): Global Governance through Voluntary Consensus, New York: Routledge. Ness, Gayl D. (1968) Bureaucracy and Rural Development In Malaysia: A Study of Complex Organizations Stimulating Economic Development in New States, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Ness, Gayl D. and Ando Hurifumi (1984) The Land is Shrinking: Population Planning in Asia, Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. Ness, Gayl D. and Steven R. Brechin (1988) “Bridging the Gap: International Organizations as Organizations,” International Organization 42(2):245–73.


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International Organizations as MetaOrganizations: The Case of the European Union1 by Dieter Kerwer, Universiteit Antwerpen Recent advances in the sociology of organizations call for a new perspective on international organizations (IOs). Instead of drawing on the analogy with firms or bureaucracies, students of IOs should view them as associations of states or “meta-organizations.â€? This perspective identifies a crucial determinant of decision making and changes the relationship between the organization and its member states. The paper presents this approach and conducts a first plausibility probe for the case of the European Union (EU). The EU is a crucial case because it is widely regarded as having advanced beyond the limits of an international organization to become a full-fledged political system. Seeing the EU from a meta-organization perspective highlights the fact that the EU is afflicted with problems typical of many IOs. Introduction The end of the Cold War had a profound impact on the activity of international organizations. With the spread of the Western liberal model, cooperation in diverse issue areas, such as security, welfare, the environment, and human rights, became much more feasible. As a consequence, IOs such as NATO, the WTO, or the EU have accepted new states as members and have made more rules that have also become more intrusive. In short, international organizations have become agents of global governance. In order to come to terms with this new reality, IR scholars are now less inclined to see IOs as mere arenas, in which state representatives act. Instead, they now conceive of IOs as autonomous actors. According to the principal-agent (PA) approach, whenever states delegate decision-making competencies to an IO, they in fact create an autonomous agent that acts according to its own self-interest and, therefore, requires monitoring by the principals, the member states (Hawkins et al. 2006). However, the PA approach does not address the question of under what conditions international organizations can be actors. A sociological perspective on international organizations, by contrast, does not assume but rather seeks to explain when and how IOs actually become actors. Some have argued that IOs should best be seen as autopoietic systems, which by definition have a minimum degree of autonomy from 1. I would like to thank GĂśran Ahrne, Nils Brunsson, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on a previous draft. The editors of the special issue, Martin Koch and Stephan Stetter, have given useful advice for revisions. All remaining shortcomings and errors are my own.


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the environment. This autonomy is in turn increased by internal differentiation and increasing complexity of an IO (Koch 2009). Others stress that for IOs to become autonomous actors, they require a secretariat. Such secretariats can have a powerful influence on their environments, because they function like bureaucracies (Barnett and Finnemore 2004; Chwieroth 2010). Still others have pointed out that IOs have developed elaborate strategies to preserve their autonomy in the face of an environment putting conflicting demands on them. Drawing on neo-institutionalist organization sociology, they argue that IOs are organized hypocrisies allowing them to decouple talk and action and thus escaping decision-making deadlocks (Lipson 2007; Weaver 2008). While an organization sociology perspective has become increasingly popular for studying IOs, it has rarely been applied to the study of the EU (but see Gehring 2002). Given that, in comparison with other IOs, the EU is one of the most influential agents of governance beyond the state, this is a rather surprising state of affairs. This lacuna is probably due to the fact that the EU is still very often seen as a structure sui generis. Furthermore, the EU is seen to have advanced well beyond being a mere IO, it is often seen as a polity situated somewhere between an IO and a full-fledged state. Therefore, organization theory does not seem to be relevant for the EU as a whole. For example, equating the EU with a powerful secretariat, the European Commission, would indeed simplify things a little too much. The skepticism regarding the fruitfulness of organization sociology for studying the EU is at least partly justified. In fact, even if one accepts seeing the EU as an international organization, organization theories are of limited relevance. Classical theories of organizations have exclusively focused on organizations that have individuals as their members. By doing so, they have neglected an important category of organizations, which have members that are themselves organizations. Such meta-organizations (MO) differ fundamentally from standard forms of organization in numerous respects (Ahrne and Brunsson 2005; 2008). Most importantly: Compared to individuals (such as employees), organizations make for unruly members. This means that for MOs, being an actor is much more problematic than for standard organizations. The purpose of this article is to make use of meta-organization theory (MOT) for analyzing the EU. The EU is an interesting case, because it offers the possibility for generalization. The basic argument of MOT is that IOs are weaker than standard forms of organization. The EU in many respects is the most highly developed IO. It is said to have become remarkably consequential for its members. Compared to other IOs, it is an effective decision maker. Due to a process of constitutionalization, the EU has a singular capacity for rule enforcement. It is thus a least likely case for MOT. If, however, the hypotheses apply, they should a fortiori also be relevant for other IOs, which in general are believed to be less consequential for its members than the EU. In order to conduct a first plausibility probe, the article is going to proceed as follows. In section two, I will introduce MOT and deduce hypotheses on the possibilities and limits of action in such organizations. The following section shows these hypotheses are broadly confirmed in the case of the EU (section 3). Subsequently, I specify in which way


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the contribution of MOT to the study of the EU is distinct from previous research (section 4). I conclude by discussing the implications of the EU case for MOT. A Meta-Organization Perspective on International Organizations Organization theory seems highly relevant to the study of an organized field such as international politics. However, a closer look reveals that organization theory needs to extend its empirical range of analysis before it can become truly relevant for studying international politics. To date, organization theorists have assumed that organizations exist to coordinate individual actors and have accordingly studied organizations of this standard kind, e.g., firms, state bureaucracies, museums, universities, or schools. They have neglected organizations that coordinate not individuals but other organizations. Many (but not all) of them straddle national boundaries. For example, the members of the international sports association Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) are national football associations, the international business association International Institute of Finance (IIF) represents multinational banks, and international technical standard setters, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), heavily rely on national standard setting bodies. More recently, Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson have argued that organizations coordinating not individuals but other organizations form a new class of organizations, so-called “meta-organizations” (MO). MOs differ in a fundamental way from standard organizations (Ahrne and Brunsson 2005; 2008). Whether the membership of an organization consists of individuals or of organizations has a crucial influence on the possibility of an organization for coordinating its members. Drawing on neo-institutional sociology of the Stanford School, they assume that in modern societies both individuals and organizations are constructed as autonomous actors (Meyer and Jepperson 2000; Meyer, Drori, and Hwang 2006). As such, for both being a member of an organization is problematic, since an organization claiming to make decisions on their behalf undermines this autonomy. However, the magnitude of the challenge varies considerably for the two types of actors. Individuals that are members of organizations granting little leeway for autonomous decisions can assert their actorhood elsewhere, for example by practicing a dangerous hobby. For an organization, by contrast, a lack of autonomy is a mortal threat. Without some decision-making autonomy, it will find it hard to convince the outside world that it actually is an organization and not just a subdivision of another organization. The consequence is that MOs are characterized by perpetual conflicts over autonomy between the meta-organization and its organized members. The result is that— compared to standard forms of organizations—MOs will find it hard to be autonomous actors. Due to the fundamental conflict, their members will be reluctant to grant them the decisionmaking competencies and the resources necessary for collective action. This fundamental predicament of MOs raises the question of whether they can actually be influential. To address this question, in the following, I will develop two sets of hypothesis on IO decision-making. The first set of hypotheses will show that MOs find it hard to act on their members as well as acting on behalf of their members. In the second section, I will show that while MOs are weak actors, they do have a chance of becoming influential in indirect ways. Impaired Actorhood Standard formal organizations can be powerful actors, because they can draw on a repertoire


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of organizational elements to ensure that coordination becomes effective: decision-making, hierarchy, rulemaking, monitoring, and sanctioning (Ahrne and Brunsson 2011). However, MOs making full use of these organizational elements challenge the autonomy of its member organizations. As a consequence, MOs only draw on a reduced repertoire of organizing. Decisionmaking competencies will only be delegated in a narrow decision-making area. Alternatively, if there are broad competencies, we are likely to find “joint decision-making.” Rule-making is restricted. More often than not, it will be soft, not hard law. Monitoring will either be neglected or, if it does take place, it will not be acted upon. Members will refuse to be sanctioned, and that will be hard to rectify. Most importantly, the ultimate sanction—expelling a member—is not an option most of time. Expelling a member weakens the MO and, in the case it is an important member, may even challenge the identity of an MO. This is not to argue that MOs cannot draw on any of the organizational elements to ensure cooperation. However, the use of organizational elements needs to be seen in conjunction. If an MO employs one organizational element extensively, other elements may be present to a lesser extent or even absent. For example, if a MO makes rules that are binding, we are likely to find that monitoring and sanctioning is weak or absent. The competition for autonomy does not only affect a MOs ability to coordinate its members; it also is a challenge for organizational reform. In contrast to evolutionary change, organizational reforms are best understood as attempts at deliberate change through decision making. It is generally assumed that once an organizational structure is in place, bureaucratic rigidities make reforming organizations challenging indeed (Sabel 1994). Nevertheless, in spite of these difficulties, reforms have become a common feature of organizational life (Brunsson and Olsen 1993). The reason is that organizations can resort to the entire repertoire of organizational elements to decide on and implement reforms. MOs, by contrast, cannot do so. When trying to reform, they run up against the same challenges of actorhood that burdens their routine actorhood. Thus, MOT suggests that MOs are having difficulties with organizational reform. Overall, due to the inherent conflict of autonomy, MOs will find it hard to act on their members. Similarly, they will also find it hard to act on behalf of their members. For standard organizations, e.g., a firm, we expect the management to be responsible for the relationship with the environment. In MOs, external representation is also subject to the competition for autonomy. A MO claiming to represent its members exclusively implicitly mounts an attack on their autonomy. Since action on behalf of an organization is a crucial dimension of organizational actorhood, we can expect that member organizations will not give up their claim to represent their own members externally as well. The result is competing and unresolved claims of external representation. Furthermore, in this area we will see little effective delegation. Also, attempts of improving coordination mechanisms for external representation are likely to be undermined by the members. We would therefore predict that representation is a great challenge for any MO. Overall, MOs are weak at foreign policy. Indirect Effects Arguing that the EU’s actorhood is reduced compared to standard forms of organization does not imply that MOs are completely inconsequential. In fact, MOT points to the fact that while MOs


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have difficulties in ruling their members, decision making does have important consequences. However, decision-making effects are more indirect. Organization theory points to a number of indirect ways in which organizations influence its members. One of such indirect mechanisms is socialization. It is a common phenomenon that new members are confronted with a specific organizational culture that they need to come to terms with to become “proper members� (Hatch 2011:62–70). The same applies for new members of MOs. However, MOT also suggests that socialization has less potential to actually transform members who are not individuals but organizations. It is more likely to influence the individuals involved in representing organizations than the organization as a whole. Decisions not only have an indirect effect, they also begin to show only after a lengthy period of time. While for MOs the challenges to decision making initially often lead to lowest common denominator decisions, there is a chance that subsequent decisions on the same matter are likely to be more stringent. Furthermore, decision making in MOs is path dependent. The reason for this is that to reverse a previous decision, it takes another decision. But such a decision faces the same challenge as all other decisions in MOs. The indirect effects of decisions in MOs are stronger on nonmembers than on members. The longer an MO exits and the more its members become homogeneous, the more they will differentiate from states which are not members of the MO in question. As a consequence, if other states want to transact with them, this will put pressure on nonmembers to adopt similar rules and structures. Over time, decision making in MOs creates considerable externalities for nonmembers. While the MOT has been mostly developed with respect to other empirical cases, such as business or sports associations, it is also relevant for the analysis of IOs (Ahrne, Brunsson, and Kerwer). IOs can be understood as a special type of MO, where the constituent organizations are states. States are in many ways similar to organizations. Part of the definition of states is that they are organized actors. Furthermore, they share with individuals and organizations that in modern world society, states are also constructed as autonomous actors (Meyer, Boli, Thomas, and Ramirez 1997). As a consequence, it is reasonable to expect that IOs face the same challenges as MOs and are, therefore, also relevant for an analysis of the EU. A Meta-Organization Perspective on The European Union The conflict over actorhood characteristic of MOs has a number of far-reaching implications for our understanding of the EU. Here, I want to highlight the consequences for our understanding of how the EU produces collectively binding decisions. This can be explored in two directions. The first is looking at how the EU makes decisions for its members. In the second perspective, the question is how the EU makes decisions for nonmembers. Regarding both directions, MOT suggests the EU is a much weaker actor than hitherto acknowledged. The EU is weak at producing collectively binding decisions that make a difference. At the same time, the EU is more influential through indirect effects, both on members and nonmembers. These hypotheses are going to be explored in the subsequent sections. Acting on Members: The EU As A Regional Actor In the field of EU research, the EU is seen as a prime locus for political decision making. In fact, policy making in the EU in many areas is seen to be taking place primarily at the European level


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(Wallace, Pollack, and Young 2010). Members participate in the process and implement the results. The EU seems to have become a rather powerful decision-maker. Not only has policymaking become a European affair in many areas, but there is also a powerful monitoring and enforcement machine. To be true, students of the EU will readily admit that its power varies across issue areas. In some areas, such as competition policy, the EU can make directly binding decisions for its members, while in others this is limited to rules that need to be implemented by member states. Nevertheless, the underlying claim of the literature is that the EU plays an everincreasing role in decision making. Despite the image of the EU as a powerful actor, there is ample evidence for the conflict over actorhood typical of MOs. A first indicator for the tension between MOs and its members is the formal structure of decision making. Policy making in the EU is the result of an interaction between the EU’s secretariat, the European Commission and the representation of the member states, the council, which is mediated by the European Parliament. Decision making is characterized by the tension between the supranational institutions (commission, parliament) and the intergovernmental institution (council). This constellation is best described not as a situation of clear delegation and monitoring but rather as joint decision making, often leading to deadlock (Scharpf 1988). The conflict over actorhood also shows in lower level decision-making structures. European regulatory agencies can be regarded as MOs of their own, with national agencies being their members. This has reduced the role of European agencies to a great extent (Majone 1997). A good example is the recently founded European Banking Authority, which features as its members national banking supervisory authorities. No wonder European regulatory agencies are often mere information clearinghouses and do not come close to the unique power of U.S. regulatory agencies. Arguably, a similar constellation of conflict exists between the European Court of Justice and national constitutional courts. For example, there is an unresolved conflict between the German Constitutional Court and the ECJ regarding who is the ultimate arbiter of constitutional conflicts within the EU. The conflict over actorhood also shows in the dynamics of policy making. While the EU is often regarded as a powerful rule setter for its members, MOT suggests the conflict of actorhood imposes systematic limits on what the EU can do. EU decision making offers ample evidence for this. The EU does not often resort to “regulations” that are immediately binding for member states but mostly adopts “directives” that need to be transposed into national law before they can be enforced. What is more, in many crucial issue areas, for example social policy, the EU does not have rule-making competencies. It has, therefore, resorted to setting best-practice standards that do not entail any obligations for the member states (Eberlein and Kerwer 2004). Finally, many rule-making projects are shelved by the commission because of resistance of the member states in the council. Monitoring is mostly decentralized to national courts, in which every affected citizen can be a plaintiff against the government (Weiler 1991). Other states are less likely to complain about the implementation record, because they to do not want to provoke critical reactions to their own implementation record. Sanctioning is often problematic. Sometimes sanctions are entirely lacking. There have been cases in which even after several rulings of the ECJ, a member state still does not comply with EU law (Mendrinou


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1996). Finally, the ultimate sanction—expulsion from the EU—cannot be used by the EU against its members. In the case of larger member states, this would be self defeating for it would reduce the standing of the EU as a whole. Thus, there are numerous instances that show the EU cannot function like a standard organization. Acting on Behalf of Members: The EU as a Global Actor At first sight, the EU seems to disconfirm the proposition that MOTs are weak corporate actors. While initially European integration was mostly an internal affair, over the last three decades, it has continually built up its capacity for acting on the global stage. At first, the EU became a global actor in policy areas that were increasingly integrated. After the creation of a free trade area, the European Commission was granted the exclusive right to represent the member states in international trade negotiations. With the rise of the EU environmental policy and the European Monetary Union, EU institutions acquired further rights of representing the EU at the global level. In 1970, the European Court of Justice introduced the principle that once a common EU policy has been adopted in some area, the EU acquires at least some role in external representation in this area (Bretherton and Vogler 2006). Since the end of the Cold War, the EU has re-launched the project of a common foreign and security policy. The Lisbon Treaty has introduced a common diplomatic service. After a long process, the EU finally seems to have become a formidable global actor. A closer look at how the EU actually acts in these fields, however, confirms the hypothesis of MOT that the EU should be a weak foreign policy actor. The EU continues to be afflicted by a gap between expectations and capabilities (Hill 1993).The EU can be considered a global actor to the extent that it can exclusively represent its members. The literature on the EU’s role in the world presents an abundance of evidence that the EU’s actorhood is impaired, since it has not attained a monopoly of representation in most areas of activity (Bretherton and Vogler 2006; Hill and Smith 2011). Member states do not delegate decision-making powers to the European Commission or another representative but remain intimately involved in formulating the mandate. On each issue, member states need to coordinate anew, with the possibility of unilateral action always remaining as an option. Arguably, this is most visible in the case of foreign policy. For example, France decided unilaterally that the civil war in Mali required military intervention. Even in trade policy, where the European Commission represents the EU, member states are closely involved in formulating the negotiating mandate. The problems with external representation are also shown by the fact that the EU has failed to monopolize the representation of its members in important international organizations such as the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the WTO, the IMF, or NATO. The general picture of weak actorhood does not only confirm the expectation of MOT. The theory also offers a plausible explanation for it. Political science research on the EU as a global actor is inclined to blame clumsy coordination procedures on the member states. The argument is that member states’ interest prevents them from embracing cooperation. If this explanation were true, we would expect to find considerable variance across different policy areas, given that interests vary across policy areas and over time. But the empirical evidence suggests there is only a minimum of substantial variance over a broad range of policy fields.


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A meta-organization perspective can make sense of this. It is in the logic of competition of autonomy to relinquish as little control in this area as possible. In addition to explaining the general picture, it can also accommodate exceptional cases. The standard explanation of weak actorhood would expect that if coordination procedures were improved, the EU’s actorhood would be strengthened. However, there is evidence to the contrary. The example of the representation of the EU at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is an instructive example in this respect (Rossi 2012). With the Lisbon Treaty, the EU not only introduced a European foreign service, it also tried to improve coordination among the member states for participating in the UNGA. The paradoxical result of this reform was not more but less coordination. Coordination all but broke down after the reform, because the UK refused to participate for fear of losing too much of its decision-making autonomy. From an MO perspective, the fact that upgrading coordination procedures actually leads to less coordination makes perfect sense. It is a feasible reaction to a possible loss of autonomy. The conflict over actorhood explains why formalizing cooperation in this field has had the paradoxical effect of undermining the EU’s capacity to coordinate policies. Reforming the EU The EU offers ample evidence for the difficulties of reforms. In the EU, major reforms are attempts at revising the underlying treaties. To be true, the EU has not been a complete failure in this respect (Moravcsik 1998). However, reforms have become exceedingly difficult in the recent two decades. Several attempts of revising the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 are generally considered to be a failure. The latest Treaty of Lisbon took twelve years to materialize. Among the most notable failures was the project of a European convention to create an EU constitution. The reason for these difficulties is easily located in the decision-making process. Treaty revisions require unanimity among all member states, which has led to the complex decision-making process of finding formulations acceptable to all (Finke et al. 2012). The MO perspective suggests this will not change: Member states are not likely to relinquish control over a decisionmaking process that is crucial for the scope of their future autonomy. Indirect Effects of Decision Making The second major proposition of MOT is that it will become consequential mostly due to indirect effects of decision making. The EU clearly confirms this. There are a number of ways in which new members are being socialized into becoming proper members of the EU. However, at the same time, member states are not radically transformed after they have become members (Zürn and Checkel 2005). For example, the Eastern European member states, such as Hungary, have developed a political culture in tension with the dominant perspective in the EU. Another indirect way in which organizations have consequences is that they lead to mutual adaptation among its members. The same is true for organized members in MOs. The result could be an informal status order among members or patterns of cooperation among them. In the EU, such mutual adaptation is a common feature. Member states of the EU, when determining their tax rates, always do so in reference to the tax rates in other member states. This has contributed as least as much to the convergence of some tax rates as direct attempts by the EU to harmonize taxes (Radaelli 1999). Another example is the competition among member states to propose their own regulatory models at the European level in order to


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avoid having to adapt a regulatory model launched by another member state (Héritier, Knill, and Mingers 1996). Another example in case is the frequent consultation among members on EU matters. In the case of France and Germany, such consultations have led to important European policy initiatives in the past. Finally, MOs also induce structural changes in their members. Given their structural disadvantages, MOs need to partially rely on their members for making decisions and implementing them. This leads to a process of structural adaptation in member organizations. In the EU, there are a number of structural changes that can be observed. In many policy fields, it has become a routine activity of the public administration to closely coordinate with European counterparties, giving rise to “administrative fusion” (Wessels 1997). The EU has promoted a trend toward regulatory agencies among its members. As European regulatory agencies are networks of national agencies, they constitute strong incentives for member states to create national counterparts. Some of these look more like enclaves of an EU administration instead of the national administration. For example, Italy’s independent antitrust authority, which has become an important ruler in competition matters, is alien to the Italian administrative tradition and seems more like an extension of the antitrust unit of the European Commission. MOT also assumes that in MOs, decision making is not easily reversed. There is ample evidence of this for the EU. For example, it has taken a large number of treaty revisions over the last decades to achieve reforms, but once a new treaty has been achieved, it is rather difficult to undo. The present attempt of the UK to renegotiate the terms of membership runs up against these difficulties. Another example is the European Monetary Union. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe has revealed structural flaws that are very hard to remedy. Nevertheless, the end of the Euro has been a looming threat, rather than an option on the table. Instead, solutions are sought to reform the structure of the EMU itself and intensify cooperation in the framework of a European “fiscal union” and a “banking union.” For actors, it seems inconceivable of reversing the decision to create the Euro (Salines, Glöckler, and Truchlewski 2012). Finally, MOT proposes that the indirect effects of decision making are not only relevant for members but also for nonmembers. In the case of the EU, externalities have increased with progressive EU integration. The more states in Europe become members, the higher the pressure for those remaining outside to adapt to the EU. Since they have to adapt to EU rules anyway, they have a strong incentive to join in order to get some influence over rule making. However, prospective members have to take on board the whole body of rules that applies to members and abide by general political criteria. Yet, in spite of this strong influence, the effect is still indirect, as it depends on the autonomous decisions of external members to apply for membership. The European Neighborhood Policy can be seen also as an attempt at mitigating the external effects for those states that do not have a concrete membership perspective. Increasing EU integration has repercussions for nonmembers beyond the region. With the rise of a joint market in financial services, the EU has increasingly created a common framework for it. Given the size of the market, other actors will have to start to adapt their rules. Integration in this area has now led to a point where the U.S., which used to be the undisputed agenda setter in the field of financial markets, has had to adapt to European rules (Posner 2009). Another field in which EU decision making has exterritorial effects is EU


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environmental policy. For example, the EU now requires all airlines entering the EU to be required to buy emission rights, even if they are based in states that are not members. If such externalities have a noticeable negative impact on nonmembers, this will usually give rise to a process of negotiation. The EU will be in a better bargaining position than without such externalities. However, the conflict between the MOs and its members may also weaken the EUs advantage in the case of externalities. The Meta-Organization Perspective in Comparison To date, numerous theoretical perspectives have been mobilized for analyzing the EU. Therefore, even if the argument is convincing that a meta-organization perspective can make sense of important characteristics of the EU, one question remains: What is the added value of this perspective compared to other competing approaches? What exactly is the contribution of MOT to the already existing repertoire of theories on the EU? In the following, I shall compare the MOT to the governance approach and to the principal-agent approach in order to assess the contribution of MOT. Governance Approach The governance approach is best characterized not as a consistent theory but as a research perspective focusing on the EU as a decision-making system. Most protagonists view the EU as a complex entity in which decisions are the outcome of interactions among public and private actors located at the European, national, and also subnational levels (Hix 1998; Kohler-Koch and Rittberger 2006). This research perspective is in contrast to traditional studies, which had mostly focused on the process of integration rather than the study of its operation at a given point in time. The meta-organization perspective shares with the governance approach the basic analytical interest in decision making in a multi-level system. However, it also differs in important ways from basic assumptions shared by EU scholars. Most scholars of the governance approach assume that the EU multi-level governance system is unique (KohlerKoch and Rittberger 2006). Other attempts at regional integration in Asia, South America, or Africa hardly seem to offer cases worthy of comparison. In this respect, the governance approach has not advanced beyond traditional integration theory. In stark contrast to this, the meta-organization perspective suggests that the EUs multi-level system is not sui generis. The assumption is that standard international governmental organizations and INGOs, such as international sports associations or business associations, are confronted with very similar challenges of multi-level decision making. Comparisons establishing similarities and differences, therefore, seem much more useful. Another important difference between the governance approach and MOT is in regards to the conceptualization of the multi-level structure. MOT suggests that multi-level decisionmaking systems such as the EU are best understood as an “inclusive hierarchy� in which higher levels encompass lower levels. In contrast to this, most protagonists of the governance approach assume the multi-level system forms an exclusive hierarchy, with autonomous actors to be found at different levels. Admittedly, there have been notable exceptions. Fritz Scharpf advocated seeing the EU as an inclusive hierarchy in which the member states are constitutive of the decision making at the European level (Scharpf 1988). However, subsequently his


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analysis seemed more adequate for understanding the “euro-sclerosisâ€? of the 1980s than the dynamism of the 1990s (Benz and Eberlein 1999). As a consequence, an understanding of the EU as an exclusive hierarchy became more dominant. In an influential paper, Liesbeth Hooghe and Gary Marks (2003) distinguish two types of multi-level governance systems according to whether they follow the principle of territorial or of functional differentiation. The former consists of jurisdictions of different geographical scale, like in a federal state, i.e., a federal, a regional, and a local jurisdiction, with multiple competencies. The second type consists of governance units focusing on specific tasks, for example the organization of a regional transport system or the trans-boundary management of river pollution. In both types of multi-level governance, the levels are connected through overlapping membership. In the case of territorial differentiation, citizens of lower level jurisdictions (e.g., states) are also members of the respective higher level jurisdictions (e.g., the federation). In the case of functional differentiation, citizens are necessarily members in multiple jurisdictions. Yet, in spite of these overlapping memberships, they conceptualize the multi-level system as an exclusive hierarchy: At each level governance units are autonomous. Following from the different understandings of the multi-level system, the governance approach identifies a different fundamental problem of such a system. For both types of multi-level governance they identify as a crucial problem that the different jurisdictions at various levels produce externalities for one another that give rise to coordination problems (Hooghe and Marks 2003:239). This shows that the action capacity of actors operating at various levels is assumed as given. In contrast to this, MOT identifies a different fundamental problem for IOs in general and for the EU. Whereas multi-level approaches take the action capacity of actors at multiple levels as given and problematize coordination of that action, MOT problematizes the possibility of action as such. Principal-Agent Approach Another approach to the analysis of the EU, with similar features to the meta-organization perspective is the principal-agent approach (Pollack 1997). Both approaches do not solely focus on international organizations but include the member states in the analytical framework. According to the PA approach, states (the principals) set up an international organization (the agent) to facilitate cooperation and perform certain tasks. Since both principals and agents are conceptualized as rational actors, principals have to control agents so as to prevent them from pursuing their own self-interest, instead of the interest of the principal. If they manage to find a solution of the control problem, international organizations come about. In the case of the EU, long chains of delegations have already evolved (DĂźr and Elsig 2011). However, the PA approach differs from MOT in the understanding of the relationship between the levels. According to the PA approach, the relationship is one between autonomous actors. This is a logical implication of this approach. After all, international organizations are only agents if some transfer of decision-making competency occurs. Thus, as in the multilevel governance approach, the relationship between member states and the EU is again one of exclusive hierarchy. As a consequence, the fundamental research problem also differs. It is not how action is possible but rather how delegation is possible. To conclude, in order to assess the possible contribution of a meta-organization perspective to the study of the EU, the best starting point is the governance approach. Both


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share an interest in the dynamics of decision making in a complex, multi-level structure. At the same time, the meta-organization perspective suggests a different view on the multi-level system and identifies a different analytical lead question. This suggests that its contributions to the governance agenda are likely to be distinct. Conclusion What is a possible contribution of organization sociology to the study of international organizations? The answer proposed in this paper is that recent advances in organization sociology hold considerable promise: Understanding international organizations as MOs offers a number of important insights of how international organizations work and how they make a difference. The major hypotheses of meta-organization theory also capture important features of international organizations. According to MOT, IOs are weak actors but may nevertheless have important long-term effects. In this paper, I have shown this perspective is valid even in the case of the EU, arguably the most advanced and complex of all international organizations. This is a distinct contribution to the governance approach in EU studies. According to MOT, the fundamental problem of the multi-level structure of the EU is not the coordination of autonomous governance units at multiple levels but instead the possibilities and limits of autonomous action. Applying MOT to the EU has shown the EU is not unlike many other IO with organized membership. This insight suggests studying the EU more in a comparative perspective. For example, MOT suggests that employing all organizational elements leads to problems for decision making in MOT. To explore this hypothesis further, it could be useful to compare the EU with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both organizations have produced a considerable amount of binding rules and both have strong enforcement mechanisms. The prediction would be that both run into great difficulties in adopting new rules. However, while the EU still takes decisions on a routine basis, the WTO is paralyzed. What explains this? Studying the EU can also make a contribution to MOT. For some time the EU has started experimenting with variable membership. More than ever before, member states can now de facto pick and choose from a European policy menu, with some countries deciding to adopt the Euro and become members of the Schengen system, while others prefer not to (Holzinger and Schimmelfennig 2012). This experiment with “differentiated integration” is being conducted to overcome decision-making deadlocks among an ever numerous membership. However, the EU also points to the problems of this solution. One of the prime examples of enhanced cooperation is the EMU. After the Euro-Crisis, there is a strong need for further integration, which cuts out nonmembers even more. This is considered to be the major reason for the UK to contemplate an exit from the EU. Thus, differentiated integration risks leading to a disintegration of the EU. For MOT, this implies that just as the other organizational elements membership can be a variable as well. This is unlike traditional organizations, where membership is a clear-cut decision. It also means this is a solution to the problem of actorhood that may have considerable negative consequences. REFERENCES Ahrne, Göran and Nils Brunsson (2005) “Organizations and Meta-Organizations,” Scandinavian Journal of Management 21(4):429–49. Ahrne, Göran and Nils Brunsson (2008) Meta-Organizations, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


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Ahrne, Göran and Nils Brunsson (2011) “Organization outside Organizations: the Significance of Partial Organization,” Organization 18(1):83–104. Ahrne, Göran, Nils Brunsson, and Dieter Kerwer (2013) “The Paradox of Organizing States: A MetaOrganization Perspective on International Organizations,” unpublished manuscript. Barnett, Michael N. and Martha Finnemore (2004) Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics, Ithaca N.Y: Cornell University Press. Benz, Arthur and Burkard Eberlein (1999) “The Europeanization of Regional Policies: Patterns of MultiLevel Governance,” Journal of European Public Policy 6(2):329–48. Bretherton, Charles and John Vogler (2006) The European Union as a Global Actor (2nd ed.), London: Routledge. Brunsson, Nils and Johan P. Olsen (1993) The Reforming Organization, London: Routledge. Chwieroth, Jeffrey M. (2010) Capital ideas: The IMF and the Rise of Financial Liberalization, Princeton N.J: Princeton University Press. Dür, Andreas and Manfred Elsig (2011) “Principals, Agents, and the European Union’s Foreign Economic Policies,” Journal of European Public Policy 18(3):323–38. Eberlein, Burkard and Dieter Kerwer (2004) “New Governance in the European Union: A Theoretical Perspective,” Journal of Common Market Studies 42(1):121–42. Finke, Daniel, Thomas König, Sven-Oliver Proksch, and George Tsebelis (2012) Reforming the European Union: Realizing the Impossible, Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. Gehring, Thomas (2002) Die Europäische Union als komplexe Organisation: Wie durch Kommunikation und Entscheidung soziale Ordnung entsteht, Baden-Baden: Nomos. Hatch, Mary J. (2011) Organizations: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hawkins, Darren G., David A. Lake, Daniel L. Nielson, and Michael Tierney (eds.) (2006) Delegation and Agency in International Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Héritier, Adrienne, Christoph Knill, and Susanne Mingers (1996) Ringing the Changes in Europe: Regulatory Competition and the Transformation of the State: Britain, France, Germany, Berlin: de Gruyter. Hill, Christopher (1993) “The Capability-Expectations Gap, or Conceptualizing Europe’s International Role,” Journal of Common Market Studies 31(3):305–28. Hill, Christopher and Michael Smith (2011) International Relations and the European Union, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hix, Simon (1998) “The Study of the European Union II: The ‘New Governance’ Agenda and its Rival,” Journal of European Public Policy 5(1):38–65. Holzinger, Katharina and Frank Schimmelfennig (2012) “Differentiated Integration in the European Union: Many Concepts, Sparse Theory, Few Data,” Journal of European Public Policy 19(2):292– 305. Hooghe, Liesbeth and Gary Marks (2003) “Unraveling the Central State, but How? Types of Multi-level Governance,” American Political Science Review 97(2):233–43. Koch, Martin (2009) “Autonomization of IGOs,” International Political Sociology 3 (4): 431–448. Kohler-Koch, Beate and Berthold Rittberger (2006) “Review Article: The ‘Governance Turn’ in EU Studies,” Journal of Common Market Studies 44(S1):27–49. Lipson, Michael (2007) “Peacekeeping: Organized Hypocrisy?” European Journal of International Relations 13(1):5–34. Majone, Giandomenico (1997) “The new European Agencies: Regulation by Information,” Journal of European Public Policy 4(2):262–75. Mendrinou, Maria (1996) “Non-Compliance and the European Commission’s Role in Integration,” Journal of European Public Policy 3(1):1–22. Meyer, John W., John Boli, George M. Thomas, and Francisco O. Ramirez (1997) “World Society and the Nation-State,” American Journal of Sociology 103(1):144–81. Meyer, John W. and Ron L. Jepperson (2000) “The ‘Actors’ of Modern Society: The Cultural Construction of Social Agency,” Sociological Theory 18(1):100–120.


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Meyer, John W., Gili S. Drori, and Hokyu Hwang (2006) “World Society and the Proliferation of Formal Organization,” in Gili S. Drori, John W. Meyer and Hokyu Hwang (eds.) Globalization and Organization: World Society and Organizational Change, Oxford, N.Y: Oxford University Press. Moravcsik, Andrew (1998) The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht, Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press. Pollack, Mark A. (1997) “Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the European Community,” International Organization 51(1):99–134. Posner, Elliot (2009) “Making Rules for Global Finance: Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation at the Turn of the Millennium,” International Organization 63(4):665–99. Radaelli, Claudio M. (1999) “Harmful Tax Competition in the EU: Policy Narratives and Advocacy Coalitions,” Journal of Common Market Studies 37(4):661–82. Rossi, Leandro (2012) The EU at UNGA 66: Internal and External Obstacles to Effective Representation, University of Antwerp: Master thesis. Sabel, Charles F. (1994) “Learning by Monitoring: The Institutions of Economic Development,” in Neil J. Smelser and Richard Swedberg (eds.) The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Princeton, N.Y: Princeton University Press. Salines, Marion, Gabriel Glöckler, and Zbigniew Truchlewski (2012) “Existential Crisis, Incremental Response: the Eurozone’s dual Institutional Evolution 2007–2011,” Journal of European Public Policy 19(5):665–81. Scharpf, Fritz W. (1988) “The Joint-Decision Trap: Lessons from German Federalism and European Integration,” Public Administration 66(3):239–78. Wallace, Helen, Mark A. Pollack, and Alisdair R. Young (2010) Policy-Making in the European Union, (6th ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press. Weaver, Catherine (2008) Hypocrisy Trap: The World Bank and the Poverty of Reform, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Weiler, Joseph H.H. (1991) “The Transformation of Europe,” The Yale Law Journal 100:2403–83. Wessels, Wolfgang (1997) “An Ever Closer Fusion? A Dynamic Macropolitical View on Integration Processes,” Journal of Common Market Studies 35(2):267–99. Zürn, Michael and Jeffrey T. Checkel (2005) “Getting Socialized to Build Bridges: Constructivism and Rationalism, Europe and the Nation-State,” International Organization 59(4):1045–79.


The EU as a Structured Power: Organizing EU Foreign Affairs within the Institutional Environment of World Politics by Stephan Stetter, Universität der Bundeswehr The aim of the article is to show how the study of EU foreign politics can profit, both on a theoretical and an empirical level, from linking it more closely with sociologically inspired theories on (international) organizations in world society. Empirically, the article focuses on this question by addressing the actorhood of the EU in foreign politics. The article initially shortly outlines key parameters of recent developments in EU foreign politics, in particular the incremental centralization of foreign policy capacities at the EU level, fostering EU actorhood in global politics. The article then argues that traditional theories of EU integration cannot sufficiently explain this process since they fail to fully address the organizational dynamics underpinning the autonomization of the EU as a distinct foreign policy actor. The article proposes a different direction by integrating the study of EU foreign policy making more closely with sociological theories of world politics, in particular theories of organizational autonomization as they have been developed in sociological neo-institutionalism and modern systems theory. Based on these theories, the article shows how key concept from organizational theory such as an open system perspective, operational closure, and “othering” can be made fruitful for explaining the incremental yet steady autonomization of the EU as a foreign policy actor in a changing world political system. Introduction In this article, I argue that the study of EU foreign politics stands to profit, both on a theoretical and an empirical level, from linking it more closely with sociologically inspired theories of organizations in world society.1 More precisely, the key argument presented here is that an opensystems perspective, as developed in sociological organizational theory, can in a more nuanced manner than liberal-institutionalist or social constructivist approaches account for the emergent actorhood of the EU as a foreign policy actor. Moreover, this also holds the promise of linking the study of EU foreign politics, on a theoretical level, more closely with theories of global political order in International Relations (IR). The key substantive argument of this article is that 1. Previous versions of this article have been presented at the ISA Annual Conventions in Montréal in 2011 and in San Diego in 2012. I am grateful to Martin Koch, Dieter Kerwer, Thomas Diez, Federica Bicchi, and Ben Tonra for their insightful comments on these occasions. I am also indebted to the two anonymous referees who have made excellent comments on the revised version submitted to JIOS.


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actorhood in the world political system depends first and foremost not on an organization’s own will, its institutional capacities, or its normative (self) image. Actorhood results from structural stimuli emanating from an organizations’ environment, including practices of recognition prevalent in that environment. In that sense, the EU—as with other actors in the world political system, such as states (see Aalberts 2010)—can be described as a structured power. In the following section (section 2) and with a view to offering a thematic introduction into the topic, I will shortly outline key parameters of recent developments in EU foreign politics, focusing in particular on provisions of the Lisbon Treaty as far as they are related to foreign politics, on the council decision to set up the European External Action Service (EEAS) and on some other key cornerstones of EU foreign politics. Taken together these dynamics attest to a considerable centralization of organizational foreign policy capacities at the EU level. The conceptual point of departure then is the observation that the study of EU foreign politics (and probably of integration studies in general) suffers from the legacy of inward-looking theorizing on EU politics, which often stops with such accounts of institutional features and/or normative self-image. Thus, as insightful as such approaches are to a better understanding of the material and normative fundaments of EU foreign politics, they tend to give too much preference to (undecidable) debates on whether member states or EU institutions are at the driver’s seat of European integration (i.e., the legacy of intergovernmentalist vs. supranational theories) or whether the EU is a force for good or not (Pace 2008)—including the related debate of whether EU foreign policies are “effective” and “legitimate” or not (see Stetter, Karbowski, and Masala 2011). In the study of EU foreign policy making, there is a long legacy of making either the institutional set-up of the fragmented EU foreign policy machinery and the gaps between rhetorical ambition and actual impact vis-à-vis third parties the key parameters of analysis—or rendering the analysis of the normative underpinnings of EU foreign politics central (see Hill 1993; Manners 2002; Thomas 2009). As will be shown below, research on EU foreign politics thereby often fails to fully address the degree of autonomization of the EU as a distinct foreign policy actor in the global political system independent of such internal dynamics. This legacy has, moreover, led to an unsatisfactory disconnection between the mainstream of studies on EU foreign policy making, on the one hand, and central theoretical debates in IR, on the other. Integration studies have by and large become too strongly separated from IR theory (but see Diez and Wiener 2009; Rynning 2011 for exceptions), which is unfortunate insofar as the EU as a foreign policy actor is structurally embedded into the very global political order IR theorizes about. This article proposes a different direction by integrating the study of EU foreign policy making more closely with a specific trend in contemporary IR theory, namely sociologically inspired theories of world politics. As will be argued further below, such theories are well suited to explain both the (organizational) autonomization of the EU as a distinct foreign policy actor and the way this process—and the power of the EU—relates to the constant making and unmaking of order in the global political system. As a word of caution, it should be emphasized that in this article I will not in detail focus on any specific (set of) case study. The purpose of the subsequent analysis is not to apply a distinct sociological theory empirically but rather to sketch out—underpinned by some empirical illustrations—what such a theory contributes from a conceptual and theoretical angle.


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Notwithstanding their obvious merits, liberal institutionalist and social constructivist approaches in integration studies encounter two major problems when discussing EU foreign politics (section 3). First, liberal institutionalist approaches tend to overemphasize the internal institutional dynamics in EU foreign politics at the expense of a greater consideration of how the EU as a foreign policy actor is embedded into—and constituted by—the environment of the world political system, in general, and specific institutional fields on the other (on the field of security policies see Hofmann 2011). Second, social constructivist approaches often measure what the EU does or does not in relation to specific norms “valued” by the EU either in practice or in rhetoric, thereby downplaying the relevance of the EU’s environment (e.g., world polity; other actors) in determining the rather complex processes through which such norms emerge and diffuse in practice. By building on these observations, which also point to the already mentioned rift between key theoretical developments in IR and integration studies, I will further propose to enrich the analysis of EU foreign politics by adding an open systems perspective on organizations, which draws in particular from sociological neo-institutionalism and modern systems theory (section 4). The key argument that will be advanced is that “actors and events” (Koch 2009:445) in the EU’s (globalized) environment rather than internal institutional and/or normative dynamics shape the key organizational features of EU foreign politics. In other words, the EU constitutes itself as a foreign policy actor within the world political system through operational closure, i.e., the EU observes irritations from its environment (e.g., what other actors say or do; or what kind of events are unfolding) and subsequently translates these irritations into decisions with which it reinforces its organizational boundaries and simultaneously reconstructs this environment by making it “comprehensible” to itself (see Larik 2011). Related to approaches that propagate a “practice turn” or a “social theory” (Bickerton 2011) of EU foreign politics, the open systems perspective central to this article attributes structural relevance to the embedding of the EU into the social context of a dynamic world order (section 5). That is why broader social dynamics of power and in particular “structural power” and the practice of legitimization by “others” (the notion of “othering” in the tradition of sociological neoinstitutionalism)—rather than its own material and/or normative capabilities—ultimately shape the position and habitus of the EU as an actor in world politics. Contemporary Foreign Politics of the EU EU foreign politics are subject to a considerable degree of path dependency (see theoretically Pierson 1996, 2011). Since the formal inception of the European integration project in the 1950s, foreign politics have left their imprint on the European Community and, since the Maastricht Treaty of 1993, the EU (for a historical overview see Giegerich and Wallace 2010). While as a general rule of thumb an increasing deepening of integration in foreign and security policies, including defense, can be observed, this integration process hardly corresponds with a linear functionalist logic. Traditionally, the degree of integration in non-security-related foreign policy areas, such as the Common Commercial Policy (CCP) or developmental assistance, has been much higher, both in terms of substantive policies and regarding the supranationalization of decision-making procedures, when compared with “hard security” policy areas, such as diplomatic relations or policies with defense and military implications (Stetter 2007). However,


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notwithstanding the ongoing institutional complexities and fragmentations, at least since the Maastricht Treaty the EU formally aspires to be a distinct foreign policy actor on the international scene and is also addressed by others as such, e.g., in the context of the Middle East Quartet where the EU is one of the four main parties (Stetter 2012). The attempt to limit the EU’s actor capacities in foreign affairs by separating supranational (non-security) policies and securityrelated foreign policies, enshrined in the famous three-pillar structure of the Maastricht Treaty, soon proved futile. Thus, already the period until the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 revealed strong dynamics of cross-pillarization (Stetter 2004), which undermined the pillar structure leading to its eventual abolition with the Lisbon Treaty. Seen from that perspective and notwithstanding the significance of the constitutional changes it brought, the Lisbon Treaty cannot be regarded as a sea change in relation to EU foreign politics. It is yet another step pointing to broader dynamics of an increasing autonomization of the EU as a supranational organization (see Sjursen, 2011a and 2011b) in general, and EU foreign politics as a suborganizational field within the EU specifically, often referred to as a process of Brusselization (Dijkstra and Vanhoonacker 2011).2 It is not the purpose of this article to account for the numerous provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on foreign politics in a systematic manner. Such an approach would also contradict the conceptual objectives pursued here since it would risk falling back to the classical orthodoxy of dealing with EU politics mainly through an inward-looking perspective that focuses either on institutional provisions or on guiding norms. Yet, three short comments should be made at this stage in order to briefly highlight some key dynamics shaping the current institutional and normative credentials of EU foreign politics and EU actorhood. First, the Lisbon Treaty has consolidated and codified central institutional parameters already introduced in previous treaty reforms. The Amsterdam Treaty originally set up the office of a High Representative (HR) for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), a post held from 1999 until 2009 by Javier Solana and since then by Catherine Ashton. The HR was prior to the Lisbon Treaty at the same time the Secretary General of the Council Secretariat, which underlines the intention of some member states to turn the HR into a counterweight against too much commission influence on diplomacy and defense issues. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the mandate of the HR has been strengthened. The most significant organizational innovation brought about by the Lisbon Treaty is that the HR is now responsible for “all areas of foreign policy” (article 24.1) and, from an institutional perspective, is based simultaneously within the commission and the council. The HR is presiding over the deliberations in the Foreign Affairs Council but at the same time is a vice-president of the European Commission (article 18). Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty follows the pattern of previous treaty reforms by facilitating the possibility to make decisions in the council on the basis of the revised qualified‐majority procedure (QMV). While decision making in EU foreign politics continues to be dominated by unanimity, pointing to the strong intergovernmental dynamics in this policy area, the Treaty of Lisbon defines and widens the range of scenarios under which the council can decide by QMV, e.g., if there has been a previous general decision by the European Council, if it is an 2. It should be noted that Brusselization does not necessarily mean that supranational actors run the show. There is also an indication that Brusselization serves the power of specific national actors, i.e., Brussels-based ambassadors (Mérand, Hofmann, and Irondelle 2011).


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implementation decision, or if new Special Representatives are to be appointed. Stricter rules apply to military and defense issues; however, there is no longer a requirement for a treaty change to bring military and defense issues under a more supranational regime, since the European Council can unanimously decide to introduce a Common Defense Policy that leads to a “common defense” (article 24). Moreover, and in line with the general provision of the Lisbon Treaty to equip the EU with legal personality, the general propositions of the union as an actor with its own foreign policy identity have been strengthened. This not only relates to the union’s position in international law, e.g., through the newly established union Delegations (article 32), but also in relation to EU member states. Although foreign policy mainly is a shared competence of the union and member states— with the CCP being an exclusive union competence—a sense of hierarchy in favor of the union is ingrained in the treaty insofar as member states should refrain from “any action which is contrary to the interests [sic] of the Union” (article 24.3). Even more than that, member states should “ensure that their national policies conform to the Union positions” (article 21). While this certainly cannot be read as an abrogation by member states to their share of sovereignty in foreign affairs, it does highlight the restriction traditional national sovereignty encounters within the EU today even in the field of foreign affairs. This also relates to the two EU member states, France and the UK, which hold a permanent (veto) position in the UN Security Council. Not only has the HR the right to represent the EU’s position in the Security Council (article 38.2), but France and the UK are called to “defend the positions and the interests of the Union” when acting in the Security Council (see also Pirozzi 2011). Second, the Lisbon Treaty also approaches the organizational underpinnings of the union’s foreign policy apparatus—an apparatus which used to consist of various directoratesgeneral of the European Commission, the council secretariat, and various subunits therein (e.g., Political and Security Committee), special representatives, etc. Although not detailed in the Lisbon Treaty, article 27.3 calls upon the HR to present a proposal to the council with a view to establishing a European External Action Service (EEAS). This is the first time at the union level a single organizational unit is foreseen that, comparable to national foreign ministries, combines (almost) all commission and council departments dealing with foreign politics. A Council Decision (2010/427/EU) of 26 July 2010 has then set up the EEAS as “a functionally autonomous body of the European Union” working under the authority of the High Representative (article 1.2). This is not the place to describe the inter-institutional battles that occurred behind and sometimes on stage prior to the adoption of this council decision (see Mauri 2009), and neither can the goal be to make a comprehensive assessment of the rather mixed balance sheet of how the EEAS has operated since its inception (see Emerson et al. 2011; Lieb 2011; Lieb and Kremer 2010; Bátora 2010). What matters here is the observation that the incremental process of change and centralization in EU foreign politics has also on the level of organizational dynamics left its mark on the EU, thereby overcoming traditional dichotomies of supranational vs. intergovernmental (see for a related argument on evolution Cutler in this special issue). The EEAS comprises staff from the commission and the council and also comprises seconded diplomats from member states, which will have to work “solely with the interest of


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the Union in mind” (point 9 of the Decision). Early figures circulating indicated that out of a staff of 1,643 diplomats, 585 (36%) come from the (now dissolved) DG External Relations, 93 from DG Development (6%), with the remaining parts of DG Development being merged with personnel from DG External Cooperation Program within the newly created DG Development Cooperation. Another 436 posts will come from staff of the Commission Delegations (27%), with 411 positions to be filled with staff previously being employed in the Council Secretariat (25%). Although remaining positions will be filled with newly appointed personnel (118 posts; 6%) and an unspecified number with personnel seconded from national foreign ministries, this distribution highlights the strong position of Brussels‐based diplomats, and in particular those coming from the commission, within the EEAS.3 Third, apart from these constitutional and organizational changes, the EU has since the Maastricht Treaty become more assertive in developing its profile as a foreign policy actor by defining its interests and identity on the global scale. As Rogers (2009) notes, the EU has developed under the leadership of Javier Solana, and supported by a diffuse “discourse coalition” of academics, think tanks, journalists, NGOs, and others, its grand strategy from being a “civilian power” (see also the concept of normative power by Manners 2002) and now can be understood as a “global power” that articulates and projects its strategic interests, in particular in relation to what is perceived as “global threats” (e.g., terrorism, climate change, poverty), defines its strategic relations to other parts of the world (in particular its neighborhood, e.g., the European Neighborhood Policy or the Union for the Mediterranean), and that also tries to project its norms and identity in global affairs, based in particular on the norms of “effective multilateralism” and “regional integration.” While these substantive cornerstones form the implicit basis of many EU foreign policy initiatives, they have been spelled out explicitly in the European Security Strategy (ESS) of 2003 and the report on the implementation of the ESS of 2008. Effective multilateralism thus comprises both a commitment to the type of foreign policy pursued by the EU—reflecting the union’s own multilateral identity, and an expectation voiced toward other states and regional/international organizations to increase multilateral cooperation on regional and global scales, both dimensions being well summarized in Thomas Diez’s understanding of the EU as “constructing the Self, changing Others” (2005). However, in contrast to the “civilian power” period, the recourse to “effectiveness” in how the EU defines multilateralism also includes the ambition of the EU, which “carries greater responsibilities than at any time in its history,”4 to take recourse to all instruments of foreign politics, including the use of military force if need be and a more explicit reference to geopolitical interests and security-related concerns rather than “liberal” norms only. This is not to argue that the EU necessarily is a powerful global power—there are contesting arguments about the EU being a small, normal, or emerging power in the literature (Toje 2011; Pardo 2011). However, notwithstanding how this debate is settled, all these approaches attribute some power to the EU—in other words some status of meaningful actorhood within the world political system. As the following sections will show this actorhood of the EU can be approached from diverse 3. See http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2010/12/ashton-publishes-names-of-eeasmanagers/69812.aspx. 4. See http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/reports/104630.pdf.


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theoretical angles. “Classical” theories in integration studies have in that context their merits but also their limitations (see the following section) that can be overcome when studying EU actorhood from sociologically inspired perspectives (see the subsequent sections). Theorizing EU Foreign Politics and EU Actorhood Although the field of EU foreign policy analysis, with its distinct research community, can claim some autonomy from other areas of integration studies, the preoccupation with general theoretical and conceptual trends in the wider study of the evolution of the political system of the EU/EC remain prominent therein too. This has not only fostered a tradition of separating the study of EU foreign politics from theoretical debates in IR, with the exception of mainly postmodern and poststructuralist approaches (e.g., Othering, governmentality) and (global) governance approaches (see for an overview Diez and Wiener 2009) but also underpins some more general trends in research on EU foreign affairs. I consider three dominant trends of particular relevance for understanding how the increasing integration of EU foreign politics and EU actorhood are usually conceptualized. First and most importantly, the process of integration in foreign politics is often understood as the outcome of the opposing dynamics of (functional/normative) suprananationalism on the one hand and (interest-oriented) intergovernmentalism on the other. These dominant theoretical paradigms of integration studies render much of the analysis of EU foreign politics heavily inward looking. Thus, integration—or the lack thereof—is considered the outcome of competing intentions and actions of specific units within the EU (see as a classic Moravcsik 1998). This then also shifts analyses to the study of the preferences of supranational actors such as the commission or the HR, both attempting to concentrate more foreign policy capacities in Brussels or by viewing member states as the dominant actors in the European policy architecture and assessing their interest in “delegating” powers to agents at the EU level. The need of reconciling the logic of both approaches—with European history providing plenty of examples for both rationales—actually explains the popularity of principal-agent theories as an explanatory concept for understanding European integration at large (Pollack 2003; Niemann and Huigens 2011). Thus, compared to traditional integration theories, principalagent approaches have the advantage that they allow to simultaneously attribute considerable powers to both supranational actors (e.g., agents such as the Court of Justice, the commission, EU agencies) and member states (i.e., principals). This advantage renders principal-agent approaches at the same time theoretically rather vague. And being particularly problematic for a theory based on a positivist epistemology, both integration and non-integration can be explained by principal-agent approaches depending on whether agency-drift or principalinterests are studied. Moreover, as will be argued below, such an inward-looking focus, as useful as it has been in bridging the gap between the entrenched camps of supranationalist vs. intergovernmentalist approaches, has come at the price of detaching the analysis of EU foreign policies and EU actorhood from comprehensive theories of (world) politics. Second, this general observation goes hand in hand with two related trends in the study of EU foreign politics. On the one hand, with research on the European Neighborhood Policy and the often hegemonic relations of the EU with its immediate abroad being a particularly


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prominent exception (Christiansen 2000; Pace 2006; Lavenex and Schimmelfennig 2010), the study of EU foreign politics is characterized by a second inward‐looking legacy, namely its concern with either battles between different foreign policy actors within the EU or with the exegesis of Treaty provisions and other institutional regulations. While such an institutional perspective certainly is important for a proper understanding of EU foreign affairs, it nevertheless is problematic from several points of view. Hence, the strong focus on the often diverging interests, identities, and conflictive relations between actors in the EU foreign policy arena, such as the commission, individual member states, the council, and others, has often resulted in claims that the EU is a sui generis foreign policy actor lacking the often-quoted single telephone number Henry Kissinger missed in the early 1970s when he apparently was desperate to dial across the Atlantic. However, the popularity this quotation still has in debates until today (including, ex negativo, this article) does not necessarily render it plausible. Its constant repetition does not only ignore the substantive changes to which EU foreign politics were subject during the last forty years. More importantly, it also risks preventing researchers from undertaking a proper comparative perspective on EU actorhood, comparing EU foreign politics with the foreign politics of other actors, in particular (liberal-democratic) nation states. Such a comparative foreign policy analysis would quickly reveal isomorphic dynamics in the organizational design of seemingly unitary foreign policy actors in other political systems, including byzantine distributions of formal responsibilities amongst actors such as prime ministers, presidents, foreign ministries, development ministries, party groups, courts, and others. On the other hand, such inward-looking perspectives are a hindrance for a greater dialogue between EU foreign politics studies and IR. The problems on that level can well be studied when looking at the popularity of another important concept for the study of EU foreign politics, namely the strong focus on an alleged lack of efficiency and power of EU foreign politics, epitomized by the famous, but theoretically rather simplistic notion of an alleged “capability-expectation gap” (Hill 1993). A key problem with such approaches is, somewhat related to what has been argued above, that the assumption that the EU lacks efficiency and/or power is based on absolute rather than relational notions of efficiency and power.5 From a theoretical perspective this already is problematic insofar as key theories of power in the social sciences, e.g., in Lukes, Luhmann, Foucault, or Bourdieu (see Borch 2005), have shown that power cannot be measured merely in relation to capabilities or internal/external expectations but requires a proper understanding of the position of an actor within a specific social field. In the case of the efficiency, power, and actorhood of the EU, this would require focusing on the relative position of the EU in relation to other actors operating in the same social arena, e.g., the arena of world politics. Moreover, analyses that base their assessment of the efficiency/power/actorhood of the EU on allegedly objective criteria, such as a divergence between (institutional) capabilities and expectations by the “self” or by “others,” risk reifying the political discourses with which these attributions are entangled and, therefore, often fail to observe non-actor related dimensions of power, such as structural or indirect forms of power (Barnett and Duvall 2005; Diez, Stetter, and Albert 2006). 5. The strong focus on efficiency also risks disregarding the question of legitimacy and democracy in EU foreign politics (see Sjursen 2011a).


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This relative neglect of structural forms of power in much research on EU foreign politics—again poststructuralist and postmodern approaches being the exception—is, finally, problematic insofar as it prevents EU studies asking questions about the relation between actor properties on the one hand and structural features of the world political system on the other—in particular those that transcend traditional Westphalian structures. A case in point is the relative neglect integration studies has shown vis-à-vis key debates on global political order in IR, e.g., the debate on primary institutions of international society (Buzan 2004) or the broader literature on the power of norms and logics of appropriateness in global politics. A key insight stemming from these research streams is that actors with little formal powercapacities often have a considerably greater role to play in international relations due to their “normative fit” with broader world cultural or world political norms than would have been expected when only addressing the absolute power resources available to them. Consider only the IR literature that addresses the role of NGOs in fostering the status of human rights in international politics (Risse et al. 1999) or the literature on the role of coalitions of small states and NGOs in the emergence of the International Criminal Court and the Human Security paradigm (Deitelhoff 2009; Glasius 2008), or, finally, the literature discussing how the primary institution of sovereignty bestows both small and big states with considerable power resources in international society. If now the diagnosis in much IR theory is right that world politics has moved toward a post-Westphalian stage, then there is indeed reason to assume— and this has already since the 1970s nurtured research agendas that focus on the EU as a civilian/normative power—that the EU as a regional organization has a strong affinity to some post-Westphalian structural features of the world political system, such as the increasingly relevant primary institutions of multilateralism and regional integration (see Albert and Stetter forthcoming). Arguably, EU actorhood is affected more by the EU’s ability to legitimize itself in relation to such broader global norms, rather than by its internal organizational coherence or normative self-image. The EU, its Environment, and World Cultural Norms In this and the following section, I shall now address, from a theoretical angle, the question how a sociologically inspired perspective on the EU as an “open system” is helpful in avoiding the aforementioned problems of inward-looking perspectives on the EU’s foreign policy actorhood. In this section, I propose an open systems perspective as an alternative to the traditional inwardlooking foci on institutional complexities and fragmentation as well as self-held norms. Building on such open systems perspectives, as they are discussed in particular in sociological neoinstitutionalism and modern systems theory (see Koch 2009), provides insights into how the EU as a foreign policy actor is embedded into and constituted by the way it relates to its environment in the world political system, e.g., actors, events, and world cultural norms/structures prevalent therein. This understanding also allows linking debates on the organizational evolution of the EU with postmodern/poststructuralist debates on the identity of the union. Also in that research tradition (see Diez 2005; Cambell 1998), which itself builds on the observation that society is constituted through discourse and communication (for an IR perspective on that matter see Albert, Kessler, and Stetter 2008), identity is not considered as a given property of the EU or other


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actors but is rather the result of relational differences and opposition to (antagonistic) “others.” The open system perspective developed here shares basic epistemological premises with poststructuralism as well as with other sociologically inspired theories in IR and integration studies not discussed here in greater detail. In other words, a sociologically inspired approach toward the institutional evolution of the EU as a foreign policy actor shifts the analytical focus, as already alluded to, to “actors and events” (Koch 2009:445) in the EU’s (globalized) environment. This does, of course, not mean the EU as an organization would in any way be causally dependent on its environment. Notwithstanding the “fuzzy borders” (Christiansen 2000) of the EU due to variable geometries within the union (e.g., Euro-Zone Schengen) and the extension of functional policy spaces to parts of its neighborhood (e.g. European Neighbourhood Policy), the EU as an organization reproduces itself on the basis of its own decisions only (for a comparable perspective focusing on communications rather than decisions, Bicchi 2011 or Dijkstra and Vanhoonacker 2011). To draw from modern system theory, the EU as an organization is necessarily operatively closed, as long as it continues to make decisions. However, in order to process decisions, the EU requires information and irritations from its environment. In other words, the EU as with any organization, including states, needs to be cognitively open toward information from the outside and can only exist as an organization-within-an-environment, which translates environmental irritations—e.g., the Arab uprisings, a change of leadership in China, an earthquake in Turkey—into organizational decisions, thereby reinforcing its own organizational boundaries and constructing specific images (i.e., observations) of the social reality it confronts. There are three main levels on which such an open systems perspective on EU foreign politics offers new insights into the dynamics shaping the evolution of the EU, in general, and the incremental yet steady centralization and autonomization of the EU as a distinct foreign policy actor in world politics, more specifically. First, being an organization within an environment, which contains and signals all the information irritating an organization, the ultimate goal of an organization always is, with a view of ensuring organizational adaptation and survival, to make the environment more predictable (Koch 2009:438). And the response modern organizations have found for this challenge is—as sociological neo-institutionalism has shown—to imagine themselves and other organizations as rational actors driven by specific means-end calculations and objectives, e.g., by responding to the aforementioned examples with decisions of the commission or the council on starting a new funding line for civil society organizations in Arab countries, announcing a visit of the commission president to Beijing or setting up a humanitarian assistance mission in support of Turkey. This argument highlights why an open systems perspective can theoretically be well combined with systems theoretical notions of organizations understood as social systems which reproduce themselves on the basis of decisions only. Thus, decisions are the specific mode of operation with which organizations try to render their continued existence likely by adapting to their environment based on “continuing efforts to systematize social life around standardized rules and schemes that explicitly differentiate and then seek to link means and


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ends” of how to respond to environmental irritations (Drori, Meyer, and Hwang 2006:13, here quoting Jepperson). Being characterized by continuous feedbacks between environmental irritations and systemic decisions, organizations are dynamic actors, which in their evolution continuously engage in reconstructing themselves, and the environment they observe. It is from that perspective that it can be argued that the autonomization of organizations constantly “opens up new social frontiers to be organized” (Drori, Meyer, and Hwang 2006:14). Second, organizations do not depend on clear-cut “material” borders toward other organizations in order to be autonomous (see for a related argument, focusing on the embedding of organizations in settings of assemblage Srivastava in this special issue). That is why the extension of the EU’s governance space toward third countries, referred to as external governance (Lavenex and Schimmelfennig 2010) does not undermine the organizational autonomy of the EU and neither does the multilayered features of governance within the European space, in which governance functions are shared and often overlap between EU, national, regional, and local administrations. In other words, for an organization to be autonomous, it is not necessary—and even not possible—that its borders to other organizations are clearly and neatly demarcated. That is why it has become a standard pattern that “modern organizations are so enmeshed with external organizations.” Organizational overlaps cannot be regarded as an obstacle to organizational autonomy (Drori, Meyer, and Hwang 2006:270). As Martin Koch has argued on that basis, states are by definition members of international organizations, the EU being no exception, but that they are at the same time “part of its environment” (2009:438). These arguments are a powerful reminder that the status of organizations as systems-in-an-environment ensures their autonomy—and that autonomy is not depending on a specific type of relation between principals and agents. By seeing institutions merely as wholes consisting of specific parts (e.g., member states), these latter approaches cannot adequately theorize on the emergent dynamics of international organizations, including the autonomy of the EU as a foreign policy actor. In contrast, sociological approaches show the evolution of new organizations cannot be controlled by “principals”—actorhood emerges once key organizational practices have become standardized through operational closure and the internal processing of decisions/communications, independently of whether actorhood is recognized legally or politically (Bicchi 2011; Cutler in this special issue). Third, and from an IR perspective probably the most important insight, an open systems perspective ultimately invites to reframe principal-agent theories on a second level too, namely regarding the issue of organizational autonomy. As far as the notion of “principals” is concerned, a key insight from an open systems perspective in organizational research is that not the actors in the environment of an organization, such as for example states, but rather the structural features of the world polity constitute the main environmental factor shaping the emergence and evolution of organizational status. In other words, organizations are “under a great deal of social and cultural control” (Drori, Meyer, and Hwang 2006:46), but not from units within but rather from a broader world culture they relate to. The most important of these structural features in the environment of any organization are today key world cultural principles such as rationalization, scientification, and universalization (see Meyer 2000) on the one hand and functional differentiation as a central form of differentiation of modern world


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society on the other (Albert and Buzan 2010).6 That is why “concepts of world society and world culture, much like global trade and diplomacy before them, have come to describe the current scope of social affairs” (Drori, Meyer, and Hwang 2006:13), including the dynamics that shape, facilitate, and constrain the emergence and autonomization of regional organizations. When studying organizations within the world political system, it is helpful to not only address these encompassing cultural standards in world society but to focus, much in line with what modern systems theory argues, on the cultural practices shaping distinct functional systems, such as inter alia politics. The reference to diplomacy in the aforementioned quote is then quite instructive from an IR perspective. In IR it has in particular been the English School, which has systematically focused on such cultural “meta-norms” of international/world society, referred to as “primary institutions” (Buzan 2004). Diplomacy—alongside sovereignty, trade, and territoriality, one of the earliest primary institutions within the global political system—is, seen from that perspective, an important element of this cultural underpinning of international society. It is immediately evident that these very norms have enabled and greatly facilitated the emergence and isomorphic global spread of the organizational model of the nation-state. In that sense, it is not concrete actors, as principal-agent theories hold, but rather cultural meta-norms that are the main “principal” of organizational emergence and change. This argument can now be extended to the autonomization of other important types of organizations in the modern world political system, e.g., international organizations. There is reason to assume that the gradual emergence, the increasing number and the growing capacities of international organizations (see Abbott and Snidal 2000), including the EU, is not a process designed and controlled by other organizations such as states but rather the result of structural changes in the environment of such organizations—e.g., the gradually increasing relevance of multilateralism and regionalism as primary institutions of the contemporary world political system. These are norms that render the “actorhood” of international/supranational organizations plausible. This does of course not mean that “old” primary institutions/world cultural norms such as sovereignty or the organizational model of the nation-state would necessarily loose importance. The growing autonomization of the EU as a distinct foreign policy actor is a case in point. This process undoubtedly depends on the emergence of the aforementioned “new” norms, which facilitate the consolidation of IOs such as the EU as autonomous actors. At the same time, however, the EU draws from and contributes to the evolution of “old” norms, such as diplomacy and sovereignty, e.g., when striving for legal personality, when consolidating its own internal and external sovereignty (Stetter 2007), and when fostering its diplomatic status within international society through the establishment of the External Action Service and Union Delegations. In many ways, the EU wants to appear as a nation-state and the symbols it cherishes (anthem, flag, Security Strategies, etc.,) imitate that model. And this makes sense insofar as undoubtedly diplomacy, sovereignty, and territoriality continue to be key prerequisites, both legally and politically, for being recognized as a key actor in world politics.

6. One could refer to the way organizational developments in the world political system respond to functional differentiation, e.g., in relation to the high degree of issue-specific organizational fields in the context of global governance regimes.


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The Power of the EU In World Politics By focusing on the impact of member states and of the byzantine institutional fragmentation on the foreign policy actorhood of the EU, or by studying the alleged normative power of the EU in global politics, inward-looking perspectives are also tempted to adopt somewhat under-theorized notions of power and efficiency. By doing so, they tend to ignore a second major insight generated by organizational research in sociology, namely that broader social dynamics of power and in particular structure-related indirect power and legitimization by “others” matter. These dynamics and not so much allegedly “objective” or “norm-related” criteria of power shape the position and habitus of actors within specific social fields. A crucial insight offered by both sociological neoinstitutionalism and modern systems theory—shared by other sociologically inspired studies on the EU—is thus that the status of being an actor as well as an actors’ power are not intrinsic capacities. It is “enactments more than action” (Meyer, Drori, and Hwang 2006:47), actors play scripts which they do not author themselves. Moreover, sustaining a viable actorhood status, e.g., as a foreign policy actor, crucially depends on the legitimacy of one’s actorhood within the wider social field an actor is embedded in. In that sense, “the modern organization as actor is in no real sense an autonomous, rational, or purposive actor. Actorhood is itself a standardized script, which expands and diffuses” (Meyer, Drori, and Hwang 2006:270). Yet, it needs to be added here that in sociological neo-institutionalism legitimacy is not a normative category, as social constructivist approaches to the EU’s alleged normative power would hold. Legitimacy refers here to the practical “fit” between organizational properties on the one hand and world polity norms on the other. Such dominant norms in the world polity are in particular, as has been outlined in different sociological theories (see Meyer 2000; Luhmann 1998), the key myths of modernity such as rationalization, universality, scientization, or functional differentiation. These myths must therefore not be conflated with a modernist or teleological understanding of norms. More precisely: rationalization is not to be equated with being rational, universalization does not mean that a norm is uncritically shared by all, scientization does not lead to undisputable knowledge, and functional differentiation does not mean that world society is functional in the sense of being efficient (see in detail Stetter 2012b). That is why Meyer, Drori, and Hwang maintain that “seen macroscopically, there is a great deal of irrationality in the rationalization of the modern system” (Meyer, Drori, and Hwang 2010:21). What it does, however, mean is that actorhood status and, consequently, the power and efficiency attributed to actors, cannot reasonably be separated from an assessment of how an organization aims to conform to meta-norms of international/world society. In other words, structural power lies in particular with those organizations whose actorhood status is seen to correspond (by others) with dominant world societal norms, in general, and field-specific norms specifically. It has, for example, been shown (Diez, Stetter, and Albert 2006) that the EU can in many instances exert quite a significant amount of structural power in relation to border conflicts in Europe and its immediate neighborhood. And in that context it has in particular been the reference to European integration as a peace project, itself a derivate of the norm of regional integration within international society, which structurally strengthens the role of the EU in conflict settings despite the EU’s limitations to exert direct power in many conflict settings. The EU presents regional integration as rational (i.e., regional integration


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fosters peace and prosperity), present it as a universal model that can be “exported” to all world regions and views, supported by arguments of many academics, intellectuals, and think tanks, the linkage between regional integration and peace/prosperity as “true” (i.e., the history of Europe after the Second World War confirming the validity of the EU’s model of regional government). Since the quality of actorhood that an organization has is largely the result of external attributions, the role of “rationalized others” (Meyer 2000) also deserves attention when studying the actorhood of the EU in foreign politics. It needs to be noted that the neo-institutionalist understanding of othering differs from the way this concept usually is applied in IR. Thus, it does not refer to dynamics of defining the own identity through symbolic bordering toward others, although this also needs to be a key component of any analysis of EU foreign politics (Diez 2005). It is based on the observation that in modern world society the status of an actor crucially depends on the ascriptions of actorhood made by allegedly disinterested others, in particular those others that can successfully claim to base their judgments on rationalized, universal, and scientifically based reasoning rather than partial, interest-driven objectives (for how this relates to EU foreign politics and changing world order see Eriksen 2011). These carriers of world cultural norms must not necessarily be academics but primarily comprise those organizations that base their activities on methods and tools of applied rather than theory-based science such as rating organizations, think tanks, and consultants, many NGOs, and others (see from a related theoretical perspective, based on Foucault and Merlingen 2011:154). Thus, in many social fields these knowledge-based actors possess little institutional but considerable structural power, they have a strong role in defining the issues to be addressed (e.g., peace-building; cultural dialogue; neo-liberal economic reforms; lending credibility; transforming the European educational system) and even rank “sovereign” nation-states that subsequently render an improvement of their status in these ranking a goal of national policy making (e.g., the PISA ranking, transformation indices, etc.,). It is beyond the scope of this article to analyze this approach in detail. However, it is clear that adopting such an alternative perspective on structural power in world society means the EU’s power as a foreign policy actor cannot be studied following traditional notions of power focused on institutional capabilities alone. Instead, it highlights the study of the EU as a foreign policy actor also requires a consideration of how “others”—in particular allegedly disinterested others such as think tanks, NGOs, or academics—ascribe foreign policy actorhood to the EU and formulate demands on what the EU should do. Seen from that perspective, and notwithstanding the limits of the “infrastructure underpinning EU foreign policy” due to its failure “to engage even the most attentive national publics in a truly ‘European’ debate on foreign, security and defence policy” (Tonra 2011:1199), the construction of EU actorhood by such others merits attention. And this includes the attempt by the EU to actually commission ever new research projects on the role of the EU as a global actor in the framework of its own R&D policy. This type of scientific research on the EU but also the policy papers issued regularly by various European and national foreign policy research institutes and think tanks, are examples of how the EU’s status of legitimate actorhood becomes socially constructed within epistemic communities claiming expertise on “foreign politics.” Ironically, it is then


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precisely the recourse to “policy failures” by academics and think tanks that constantly creates new stimuli for centralizing foreign policies at the EU level. Such attributions of legitimate actorhood status are then underpinned by the practices of governmentality (Merlingen 2011) inherent to EU foreign politics. It directs attention away from the issue of efficiency, which from the perspective adopted in this article first and foremost is the question of how an organization adapts to its environment rather than the fit between capabilities and expectations, and allows to scrutinize how the EU succeeds in defining large-scale policy projects, such as inter alia its neighborhood policy or external police missions. Even more importantly, it allows studying how the EU deploys governance techniques through which it shapes the behavior of others, including national administrations such as national foreign ministries in Europe, which reorganize themselves according to EU requirements7 or administrations in third countries, which engage in dense contractual relations with the union in which they promise to engage in various domestic “reforms.” Finally, it also relates to the question of how the governmentality of EU foreign politics shapes, enables, and constrains the movement of people within and outside the EU through biopolitical practices. This research focus has primarily been applied to the study of the external dimension of EU justice and home affairs (Balzacq 2009; Bigo 2006), migration policies and antiterrorism policies (Aradau and van Munster 2007). This biopolitical actorhood of the EU can, thus, be studied when looking at the way how key foreign policy institutions, such as the European Neighbourhood Policy, aim to meticulously regulate and control the movement of outsiders into the EU, usually but not always in a restrictive manner. It also relates to how the readmission agreements between the EU and third countries as well as the “militarization” of EU external border control constructs EU actorhood. And within the EU, it relates to EU actorhood that results from the EU’s structural capacity to discipline the scope of ideas and actions with a view to specific policy issues in national prime ministers’ offices, foreign, defense, and development ministries and to trigger movement of national diplomats into the European External Action Service, where they have to serve “solely with the interest of the union in mind.” It also manifests itself whenever “national” soldiers and police officers head for EU missions in third countries where they are following the same logic, ultimately expected to risk their life and the life of non-EU citizens for “the interests of the union,” a union increasingly defining itself and being defined by others as an emerging or “global power” (Rogers 2009). Conclusion This article discussed from a theoretical perspective how insights from the study of world society in sociology, in particular sociological neo-institutionalism and modern systems theory, can contribute to a better conceptual understanding of the increasing autonomization of the EU as a foreign policy actor and the power of the EU within the global political system. This article does not claim that this perspective is the only one that offers a fruitful addition to inward-looking perspectives of either liberal-institutionalist (e.g., principal-agent) or social constructivist (e.g., normative power) outlook. Thus, there are important overlaps between 7. See the argument by Perthes, that Germany—or for that matter Finland or Ireland—became, through EU membership and their involvement in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Mediterranean countries (see the contribution by Volker Perthes on http://www.euromesco. net/ index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=132&Itemid=48&lang=fr).


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what has been argued in this article and various other theoretical approaches, mostly radical constructivist and poststructuralist theories, which have in recent years been applied to the study of EU foreign politics too, such as Foucauldian discourse analysis (Merlingen 2011; Bickerton 2011), hegemonic discourse theory (Rogers 2009), postmodern perspectives (Larsen 2009; Diez 2005), or Bourdieuian field research (Mérand 2010). What most of these approaches and the theories of world society discussed in this article have in common, besides their constructivist credentials, is that they direct attention toward the underlying social and global dynamics on a structural and relational level, which explains the emergence and consolidation of the EU as a powerful foreign policy actor. Seen from that perspective of a “social theory” (Bickerton 2011) of EU foreign affairs, the EU is not a normative power and neither is its role in world politics defined by its own will or its own institutional capacities—or the lack thereof. As this article has claimed the EU rather is a structured and relational power insofar as its status in world politics—as the status of all other organizations, including states—first and foremost depends on its ability to relate and adapt through decisions to the constantly changing cultural and structural context of world/ international society on the one hand and on how other actors in that field (de)legitimize its status on the other. REFERENCES Aalberts, Tanja E. (2010) “Playing the Game of Sovereignty: Charles Manning’s Constructivism avantla-lettre,” European Journal of International Relations 16(2):247–68. Abbott, Kenneth W. and Duncan Snidal (2000) “Hard and Soft Law in International Governance,” International Organization 54(3):421–56. Albert, Mathias, Oliver Kessler, and Stephan Stetter (2008) “On Order and Conflict: International Relations and the ‘Communicative Turn,’” Review of International Studies 34(S1):43–67. Albert, Mathias and Barry Buzan (2010) “Differentiation,” Review of International Studies (tba). Albert, Mathias and Stephan Stetter (forthcoming) “Embedding Regional Integration in the Fabric of a Differentiated World Society and a Differentiated System of World Politics,” in Boris Holzer, Fatima Kastner, and Tobias Werron (eds.) From Globalization(s) to World Society: Comparing Neo-Institutionalist and Systems Theoretical Contributions to World Society Research, London: Routledge. Aradau, Claudia and Rens van Munster (2007) “Governing Terrorism through Risk: Taking Precautions, (un)Knowing the Future,” European Journal of International Relations 13(1):89–115. Balzacq, Thierry (ed.) (2009) The External Dimension of EU Justice and Home Affairs: Governance, Neighbours, Security, Houndsmill: Palgrave. Barnett, Michael and Raymond Duvall (2005) Power in Global Governance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bátora, Jozef (2010) “A Democratically Accountable European External Action Service: Three Scenarios,” in Sophie Vanhoonacker, Hylke Dijkstra, and Heidi Maurer (eds.) Understanding the Role of Bureaucracy in the European Security and Defence Policy, Special Issue 1(14). Bicchi, Federica (2011) “The EU as a Community of Practice: Foreign Policy Communications in the COREU Network,” Journal of European Public Policy 18(8):1115–32. Bickerton, Chris J. (2011) “Towards a Social Theory of EU Foreign and Security Policy,” Journal of Common Market Studies 49(1):171–90. Bigo, Didier (2006) “Internal and External Aspects of Security,” European Security 15(4):385–404. Borch, Christian (2005) “Systemic Power: Luhmann, Foucault, and the Analytics of Power,” Acta Sociologica 48(2):155–67. Buzan, Barry (2004) From International to World Society? English School Theory and the Structure of Globalisation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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Campbell, David (1998) Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Christiansen, Thomas (2000) “Fuzzy Politics Around Fuzzy Borders: The European Union’s ‘Near Abroad,’” Cooperation and Conflict 35(4):389–415. Deitelhoff, Nicole (2009) “The Discursive Process of Legalization: Charting Islands of Persuasion in the ICC case,” International Organization 63(1):33–65. Diez, Thomas (2005) “Constructing the Self and Changing Others: Reconsidering ‘Normative Power Europe,’” Millenium 33(3):613–36. Diez, Thomas, Stephan Stetter, and Mathias Albert (2006) “The European Union and Border Conflicts: The Transformative Power of Integration,” International Organization 60(3):563–93. Diez, Thomas and Antje Wiener (2009) European Integration Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dijkstra, Hylke and Sophie Vanhoonacker (2011) “The Changing Politics of Information in European Foreign Policy,” Journal of European Integration 33(5):541–58. Drori, Gili S., John W. Meyer, and Hokyu Hwang (eds.) (2006) Globalization and Organization, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Emerson, Michael, Rosa Balfour, Tim Corthaut, Jan Wouters, Piotr M. Kaczynski, and Thomas Renard (2011) “Upgrading the EU’s Role as Global Actor,” CEPS Commentary, Brussels. Eriksen, Erik O. (2011) “Governance between Expertise and Democracy: The Case of European Security,” Journal of European Public Policy 18(8):1169–89. Giegerich, Bastian and William Wallace (2010) “Foreign and Security Policy: Civilian Power Europe and American Leadership,” in Helen Wallace, Mark A. Pollack, and Alisdair Young (eds.): PolicyMaking in the European Union, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Glasius, Marlies (2008) “Human Security from Paradigm Shift to Operationalization: Job Description for a Human Security Worker,” Security Dialogue 39(1):31–54. Hill, Christopher (1993) “The Capability–Expectation Gap, or Conceptualizing Europe’s International Role,” Journal of Common Market Studies 31(3):305–28. Hofmann, Stéphanie C. (2011) “Why Institutional Overlap Matters: CSDP in the European Security Architecture,” Journal of Common Market Studies 49(9):101–20. Koch, Martin (2009) “Autonomization of IGOs,” International Political Sociology 3(4):431–48. Larik, Joris (2011) “Shaping the International Order as a Union Objective and the Dynamic Internationalisation of Constitutional Law,” CLEER Working Papers 5, The Hague: Centre for the Law of EU External Relations. Larsen, Henrik (2009) “A Distinct FPA for Europe? Towards a Comprehensive Framework for Analysing the Foreign Policy of EU Member States,” European Journal of International Relations 15(3):537– 66. Lavenex, Sandra and Frank Schimmelfennig (eds.) (2010) EU External Governance: Projecting EU Rules Beyond Membership, London: Routledge. Lieb, Julia and Martin Kremer (2010) “Empowering EU Diplomacy. The European External Action Service as an Opportunity for EU Foreign Policy,” SWP Comments 2. Lieb, Julia (2011) Diplomatisches Neuland für die EU: Den Erfolg des Europäischen Auswärtigen Dienstes durch regelmäßige Evaluierung sichern. SWP-Aktuell 5, Berlin: SWP. Luhmann Niklas (1998) Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Manners, Ian (2002) “Normative Power Europe: A Contradiction in Terms?” Journal of Common Market Studies 40(2):235–58. Mauri, Filippo (2009) “The Setting Up of the European External Action Service (EAAS). Laying the Basis for a More Coherent EU Foreign Policy?” European Security Review 47, ISIS Europe. Mérand, Frédéric (2010) “Pierre Bourdieu and the Birth of European Defense,” Security Studies 19(2):342–74. Merlingen, Michael (2011) “From Governance to Governmentality in CSDP. Towards a Foucauldian Research Agenda,” Journal of Common Market Studies 49(1):149–69. Meyer, John W. (2000) “Globalization: Sources, and Effects on National States and Societies,” International Sociology 15(2):235–50. Moracsik, Andrew (1998) The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht, New York: Cornell University Press.


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Niemann, Arne and Judith Huigens (2011) “The European Union’s Role in the G8: A Principal Agent Perspective,” Journal of European Public Policy 18(3):420–42. Pace, Michelle (2006) The Politics of Regional Identity. Meddling with the Mediterranean, London: Routledge. Pace, Michelle (2008) “The EU as a Force for Good in Border Conflict Cases?” in Thomas Diez, Mathias Albert and Stephan Stetter (eds.) The European Union and Border Conflicts: The Power of Integration and Association, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pardo, Ramon Pacheco (2011) “Normal Power Europe: Non–Proliferation and the Normalization of EU’s Foreign Policy,” Journal of European Integration 34(1):1–18. Pierson, Paul (1996) “The Path to European Integration: A Historical Institutionalist Analysis,” Comparative Political Studies 29(2):123–63. Pierson, Paul (2011) Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pirozzi, Nicoletta (2011) “The European Union and the Reform of the United Nations: Towards a More Effective Security Council?” Mercury: Multilateralism and the EU in the Contemporary Global Order, e-paper, 13. Pollack, Andrew (1998) “Delegation, Agency and Agenda Setting in the European Community,” International Organization 51(2):99–135. Risse, Thomas et al. (2009) The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rogers, James (2009) “From ‘Civilian Power’ to ‘Global Power.’ Explicating the European Union’s ‘Grand Strategy’ Through the Articulation of Discourse Theory,” Journal of Common Market Studies 47(4):831–62. Rynning, Sten (2011) “Realism and the Common Security and Defence Policy,” Journal of Common Market Studies 49(1):23–42. Sjursen, Helene (2011a) “The EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy: The Quest for Democracy,” Journal of European Public Policy 18(8):1069–77. Sjursen, Helene (2011b) “Not so Intergovernmental after all? On Democracy and Integration in European Foreign and Security Policy,” Journal of European Public Policy 18(8):1078–95. Stetter, Stephan (2004) “Cross-Pillar Politics: Functional Unity and Institutional Fragmentation of EU Foreign Politics,” Journal of European Public Policy 11(4):720–39. Stetter, Stephan (2007) EU Foreign and Interior Politics: Cross–Pillar Politics and the Social Constructions of Sovereignty, London: Routledge. Stetter, Stephan, Marina Karbowski, and Carlo Masala (eds.) (2011) Was die EU im Innersten zusammenhält: Debatten zur Legitimität und Effizienz supranationalen Regierens, ZIB Reader 1, Baden-Baden: Nomos. Stetter, Stephan (2012) “Legitimitätspolitik in trans- und internationalen Konflikten: Dynamiken internationaler conflict governance am Beispiel des israelisch-palästinensischen Konfliktes,” in Anna Geis, Christopher Dasse, und Frank Nullmeier (eds.) Der Aufstieg der Legitimitätspolitik: Rechtfertigung und Kritik politisch-ökonomischer Ordnungen, Leviathan Sonderband 27, Baden-Baden: Nomos. Thomas, Daniel C. (2009) “Explaining the Negotiations of EU Foreign Policy: Normative Institutionalism and Other Approaches,” International Politics 46(3):339–57. Toje, Asle (2011) “The European Union as a Small Power,” Journal of Common Market Studies 49(1):43– 60. Tonra, Ben (2011) “Democratic Foundations of EU Foreign Policy: Narratives and the Myth of EU Exceptionalism,” Journal of European Public Policy 18(8):1190–1207.


Assembling International Organizations1 by Swati Srivastava, Northwestern University Typical scholarship on international organizations (IOs) focuses on the effects that IOs have on international relations. As Ian Hurd clarifies, such effects inform an IO’s ontology as actor, forum, or resource. This paper looks at and beyond such contributions by more closely aligning outcome to process for a relational conceptualization of IOs. In addition to analyzing what they explain about international politics, sociological approaches to IOs should also treat IOs as entities to be explained. I argue that IOs are assemblages of diverse actors projecting coherence in order to authorize particular identities, knowledge, and actions. Power flows through the construction process of IOs as their roles of actor, forum, or resource are constitutive with their socially mediated processes of assembly. Introducing the vocabulary of IOs as assemblage opens up space for understanding IOs as contingent settlements of varied organizational politics and competing tensions. The negotiation of these settlements deserves as much attention as the effects on international politics they make possible. Introduction This article offers a sociological approach to the study of international organizations (IOs) through the vocabulary of assemblages. Treating IOs as assemblages gives us new and interesting insights about IOs’ process and dynamics. Specifically, introducing assemblage as a particular type of social construction makes possible the ordering of IOs as recognizable unitary actors in international politics. Such a move looks at and beyond the typical scholarship on IOs that focuses on the effects IOs have on international relations. As Ian Hurd (2011) clarifies, these effects inform an IO’s ontology as actor, forum, or resource. However, a relational conceptualization of IOs makes clear that in addition to analyzing what IOs explain about international politics, we should also treat IOs as entities to be explained. By regarding IOs as an accomplishment needing continued maintenance and attention the focus shifts from what IOs construct to how IOs are constructed. In other words, existing research on the effects of IO should be supplanted with research on IOs as effects.2

1. I thank Ian Hurd and Stephen Nelson, two anonymous reviewers, the editors of this special issue, participants at the 2012 International Studies Association-Northeast in Baltimore, and the IR Student Working Group at Northwestern University for helpful comments. 2. Some research does this already, for example the literature on negotiation of IO treaties (on the UN charter see Russell 1958; Schlesinger 2003) and neo-Gramscian studies on IOs as a result of hegemony (Cox 1983, 1987). The difference with the approach presented here is that I treat IO process as always in progress. In IOs as assemblages, there are only efforts toward a fully formed entity and never an actually completed project.


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Assemblage is typically defined as “a bringing or coming together; a meeting or gathering; the state of being gathered or collected” (Oxford English Dictionary). This definition identifies assemblage both as an activity and a state of being, which captures the simultaneous processes of assemblage as practice and representation. In other words, assemblage is the practice of bringing together a diverse range of materials while also representing a particular state of achievement in that process. I am interested in the dual framework involving specific practices of assembling assemblages and their representation as assembled assemblages. Agentic efforts continually contest and reify assemblages to reflect the simultaneous eroding and enduring qualities of social structures. As such, an attention to assemblage underscores that IOs are not only actors that define the operating space for others but are also the resulting structures that emerge from processes of social control. This does not imply that IOs can be reduced to power politics and have no distinct identity of their own. Rather, an IO’s distinctiveness as a being in global politics is painstakingly accomplished. The presence of structures projecting coherence, unity, and stability out of incoherent, divided, and unstable relations gestures to the active production and reproduction of social life. Such assembly is constant, pervasive, and global so that the resulting order may be constant, pervasive, and global. It is not enough to claim that international structures like IOs are socially constructed. International theory must specify how exactly the social construction takes place while acknowledging different versions of sociality and construction involved in this assembly. In seeing IOs as assemblages, IOs do not appear as fully formed entities but as perpetual works in progress. The signing of a treaty or hiring of an administrative staff does not signal the birth of an organization ready for the world as much as it ushers in the beginning of a developmental process. Assemblages help account for the active problem-solving efforts to build something with durable effects. To assemble a team involves the recognition of strengths and comparative advantages given particular challenges. To assemble an IO is a similar endeavor necessitating amalgamation of different elements each with their own unique abilities to contribute to something greater in order to solve problems. A turn to IOs as assemblages generates research questions that open the processes in constructing stable/ unstable, visible/invisible, and ephemeral/enduring IOs as problem-solving arrangements. The value added of assemblage is its ability to capture power in international relations wielded by a diverse set of actors participating in the continual production of heterogeneous practice and homogenous representation of global governance. Moving from the effects of IOs to IOs as effects pairs with a renewed sociological attention to thinking about the international organization of international organizations. This opens up questions of scale and scope in global governance to evaluate the ways in which an IO is organized internationally. As scholars in organizational sociology argue, IOs are “created to solve problems that require collaborative action; they are not just mechanical tools doing what their founders envisioned . . . but are open systems that are continually responding to the environment, developing and changing goals through negotiations among the dominant coalitions and utilizing various technologies” (Karns and Mingst 2004:56). Sociological perspectives to IOs take seriously the contingency and openness of IOs by tracing


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the negotiations that make an IO possible. Examples of such approaches abound in scholarship on organizational culture (Barnett and Finnemore 2004), organizational learning (Haas 1990), interorganizational relations (Mingst 1987), organizational practice (Adler and Pouliot 2011), and network analysis (Keck and Sikkink 1998).3 By proclaiming IOs as assemblages, this article follows and opens further possibilities for such sociological inquiry. I conceptualize and illustrate how to think about assemblages as well as emphasize the analytical payoffs for inquiring about IOs as assemblages. The first section unpacks the concept of assemblage to gain analytical clarity on what it is before moving to the second section on how it is useful for the study of IOs. Understanding IOs as contingent settlements of varied organizational politics and competing tensions is important for capturing the negotiation of these settlements in addition to the effects on international politics they make possible. Theory of Assemblages I conceptualize an assemblage as: 1) the product of myriad social interactions within and across levels of analysis that 2) through projection of sustained coherence and stability 3) authorizes particular practices and discourses 4) while necessitating multiple play and reconstruction. Let me go through each in turn. The first characteristic of assemblage includes a broad range of participants as well as assembly across different levels of analysis to reflect that assemblages are nested and networked entities. Globally dense and multilayered social relations may represent localized practices. In keeping with the plurality of relations that count as social, assemblages also regard objects as active participants through a “material semiotics” approach. Treating material objects and social facts symmetrically in their contribution to an assemblage means there is subjectivity in an object much like there is materiality in subjects. Instead of treating materialism and subjectivism as oppositional, an assemblage approach highlights their interaction in making certain social actions possible. In global politics, states are as much of an assemblage as a transnational network or an IO. The United Kingdom, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), are a product of particular social interactions that cohere to create for each the effect of an assembled unitary entity. But, states also form assemblages with transnational networks and IOs, when for instance the U.K., the ICBL, and the UNGA collaborate to form an assemblage that supports the Mine Ban Treaty. The U.K. being a part of both the ICBL and UNGA also shows the redundancy in assemblages. Furthermore, as objects of concern, landmines activate and maintain the UK–ICBL–UNGA assemblage much like the other actors. The second characteristic claims assemblages are represented as stable and coherent instead of fleeting and disjointed. The “structuring structures” quality of assemblages directs our attention to the durability of particular arrangements given the high degrees of contingency surrounding social life. An assemblage is much like Charles Taylor’s concept of a social imaginary as “that common understanding which makes possible common practices, and a widely shared sense of legitimacy” (Taylor 2007:172). Hence, one of the main accomplishments of assemblages is to try and smooth over the multiple and 3. Here I rely on Karns and Mingst’s very useful overview on theories of organizations (2004:56–59).


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multilayered contradictions to reflect a singular whole devoid of such competing tensions. The techniques of unitary representation are present in discourses on collectivity and practices of bureaucratic centralization and depersonalization. For instance, circulating particular policies of standardization and protocols throughout assemblages enable a projection of uniformity. Timothy Mitchell (1991) identifies a “will to cohere” in the structural effect of the state, which “should be examined not as an actual structure, but as the powerful, metaphysical effect of practices that make such structures appear to exist” (Mitchell 1991:94). This state effect can be extended to assemblages more broadly in talking about the need for robust representation to give coherence to heterogeneous entities. For instance, the assemblage of the U.S. is represented through the federal government’s bureaucratic apparatus, the ideological construction of shared commitments—such as American exceptionalism, as well as discourses on the American national interest. Needless to say, a diversity of opinions undergirds these constructions, and so a representation of the U.S. must be actively assembled for a coherent and effective social imaginary. The third characteristic follows from the preceding discussion as assemblages projecting consistent singularity then authorizing particular identities, knowledge, and actions to take shape. Assemblages are deeply involved in “conducting conduct” by serving as provisional problem-solving arrangements. However, assemblages do not just respond to some crisis “out there” but are implicated in the very construction of what is considered a crisis. Assemblages help define problems and also inform the space of possibilities for any resolution. IOs as assemblages are as much about the collective definition and appropriation of problems as they are about creating solutions. Again, assemblages are social imaginaries in the sense that by creating a map of social space they allow subjects to imagine and perform particular social constructions they could not have otherwise. This guidance is integral to how people imagine themselves (identity), what they value as true or real (knowledge), and what they do (action). Tracing an assemblage means to follow the arrangements of identities, knowledge, and action that are produced in efforts to make what Michel Foucault (2007) terms certain knowable and hence governable subjects. For instance, the assemblage of the global war on terror enables governments to label rebels as “domestic terrorists” and so recalibrate the legal and military recourse available in combat. However, the way such an assemblage defines terrorism and what a war on terrorism means is linked with the kinds of activated social relations and the actors who have access to the assemblage. Finally, the fourth characteristic refers to the play and reconstruction that are always a part of assemblage, Moving beyond the structuralist tendency for unidirectional impositions dropped on top of actors, assemblages involve interpretation and assessment of given social mappings. Indeed, there are multiple ways to interact within an assemblage, and such multiplicity gives rise to alternative and new connections. Using Wittgensteinian rules finitism, or that rules do not contain instructions for their interpretation, assemblages make room for rules to be followed in many different ways. This could be read as “assemblage is what you make of it,” but also that the very relationality of assemblage builds an intersubjective coproduction of meaning tempering structural domination. Of course, this does not mean anything is possible and assemblages are perennially changeable. Instead, possibilities for


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creative action emerge when assemblages break down and need fixing. As social relations are contingent the opportunity for a crisis is present every time the assemblage is performed. For instance, a particular assemblage constituting nation-states may authorize a territorial integrity norm that obligates nation-states to respect each other’s sovereignty. How integrity is interpreted is variable as evident by covert military actions or overt economic sanctions that may affect a nation-state’s ability to have and hold on to territory. The assemblage also reorganizes itself to better accommodate the incursions against territorial integrity given certain human rights violations. As a preliminary illustration, let me take the example of the United Nations (UN) as an assemblage. To help make this point, Richard Jolly, Louis Emmerij, and Thomas Weiss (2009) extend Inis Claude’s insight about “two UNs” to “three UNs” in that, “there have been at most times and for most issues three distinct UNs in operation: the UN of governments, the UN of staff members, and the UN of closely associated NGOs, experts, and consultants” (Jolly, Emmerij, and Weiss 2009: 32–33). The three UNs involve myriad social interactions with different types of actors—government officials, staff members, NGOs, experts—across local, domestic, and international levels of analysis. While we can disaggregate the UN into three components, they nonetheless project coherence that allows for a shared performance of identity, knowledge, and action. In particular, the assemblage authorizes “eight distinct and ideational roles played collectively by the three UNs, sometimes in isolation and sometimes together or in parallel. These roles are providing a forum for debate; generating ideas; giving ideas international legitimacy; promoting the adoption of such ideas for policy; implementing or testing ideas and policies at the country level; generating resources to pursue new policies; monitoring progress; and let us admit, occasionally acting to bury ideas that seem inconvenient or excessively controversial” (Jolly, Emmerij, and Weiss 2009:34–35). The parts of the UN as an assemblage—the three UNs—are arranged and combined in numerous ways that enable the UN to perform alternatively as actor, forum, or resource. Of course, the three UNs themselves are assemblages in that they each represent processes of assembly as they “are anything but monoliths, and as each component is subject to variations and various power positions” (Jolly, Emmerij, and Weiss 2009:35). The UN as an assemblage also points to the interpretive possibilities of the social imaginary in the performance of authorized identity, knowledge, and action. To this end, “significantly, differences in the ways that various members of the three United Nations play their roles or in the tactics they pursue often provide an element of creative tension that leads to boldness and innovation, creating positions that governments alone might not otherwise adopt or might even avoid” (Ibid.). Innovation emerges from difference among the three UNs in the process of the UN as an assemblage. My conceptualization of assemblage relies on a couple of approaches in social theory. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987) introduce assemblage in A Thousand Plateaus and highlight three crosscutting connections between material content and discourse, space and time, and presence and absence. Flowing relations between people and things are spatially and temporally fixed in the assemblage through accelerating or braking, segmenting or dislocating, and amplifying or muting the fluidity. For Deleuze and Guattari, undergirding the assemblages is the rhizome—interconnected roots—breaking the linearity as it “ceaselessly


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establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relevant to the arts, sciences, and social struggles” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:7). Rhizomes can be linked to anything, work in multiplicity, overcome rupture, are a stranger to deep structure, construct the unconscious, are in medias res, and represent a desire to connect. The particular rhizomatically informed assemblage does not just manifest spontaneously but is a product of the power relations that try and tamp down flows to a specific time, space, and presence. From Deleuze and Guattari I extend that assemblages may take seriously nonhierarchy, multiplicity, and temporality but forces that attempt to impose hierarchy, singularity, and permanence always constitute them.4 Bruno Latour (2005) also advances an assemblage approach in Reassembling the Social, which upends the conventional “connecting pipes” characterization of a network to deploy network as an adjective rather than a noun. In other words, network describes instead of being described. If the flows of interactions from one actor to another create networked relations, then it is through tracing these linkages that the origins of “social construction” emerge. In other words, Latour claims that networked interactions are what we mean when we say “the social” instead of such interactions being embedded in social context. Another essential component of Latour’s analysis is his reconceptualization of “social” being used as a noun instead of as an adjective. The reversal of networks as adjective and social as noun leads Latour to use networks to explain and assemble the social instead of using the social to explain networks. There is no social apart from interaction, and assemblages assist in figuring out the composition of social construction. Contra social constructivists, Latour’s “constructionist” approach argues that social relations are not an independent variable, or something that explains by existing exogenously, but rather a dependent variable, or something that needs explaining and active assembly.5 The assemblage vocabulary is gradually making its way in the international relations (IR) literature. For instance, Saskia Sassen’s (2006) globalization narrative looks at national and global entities which “across time and space, territory, authority, and rights have been assembled into distinct formations within which they have had variable levels of performance” (Sassen 2006:5). Sassen relies on assemblage as a tool to capture the constellation of territory, authority, and rights that appear throughout history, thereby taking the social construction of the nation-state as an accomplishment. The “produced project” showing that past social arrangements “took making” is exactly the work of showing something as an assemblage. In addition, Jennifer Mitzen (2010) proposes a collective intentionality framework that shares some affinities with assemblage. The focus on social product and purposiveness refers to the building efforts in assemblage. Mitzen relies on speech act theory to treat collective intentionality as performing governance acts such that international coordination wills assemblages into existence. Mitzen also identifies an “ontic requirement to govern” for stable identities of actors (who are mostly states), which is met in interstate forums like IOs. Assemblage theory is also gaining traction in other disciplines where variants of network analysis have been in use for some time to map social relations (for a good review, see Marcus 4. Scholars who push Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptualization to organize a more formal assemblage theory include Paul Rabinow (2003), and Manuel DeLanda (2006). 5. Jane Bennett (2005, 2009) advances the ANTian approach to assemblage in her formulation of a new materialism.


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and Saka, 2006). In sociology, Karin Knorr Cetina (2005) diagrams financial markets and terrorist networks using the assemblage-inspired “global microstructure.” In particular, Knorr Cetina draws on complex global microstructures as “forms of connectivity and coordination that combine global reach with microstructural mechanisms that instantiate self-organizing principles and patterns” to mimic the array of assemblages required in global imagination (Knorr Cetina 2005:214). In anthropology, taking heed from Aihwa Ong and Stephen Collier (2005), Tania Murray Li employs assemblage as that which “flags agency, the hard work required to draw heterogeneous elements together, forge connections between them and sustain these connections in the face of tension. It invites analysis of how the elements of an assemblage might—or might not—be made to cohere” (Li 2007:264). The notion of flagging agency is useful as an assemblage approach aspires to make visible the multitude of agentic efforts in reproducing structures. Furthermore, both Knorr Cetina and Li are attentive to the potentials of doing situated (field) research with assemblage serving as an organizing tool without being totalizing. The allure of assemblage is the relatively little disciplinary strings attached that encourage more interdisciplinary (as opposed to multidisciplinary) use. It may be useful to briefly distinguish assemblage from other sociological terms such as institutions, fields, and regimes that may at first glance offer similar conceptual leverage for the study of IOs.6 Compared to institutions, assemblage better captures IOs as contingent social arrangements rather than settled products (either formal or informal) that have difficultly accommodating change. Unlike fields, assemblage bounds IOs as hierarchical entities with horizontal and vertical dimensions to maintain a focus on power relations. Assemblage also differs from regimes by shifting the focus from cooperation under anarchy to governance beyond anarchy. In addition, unlike other analytical heuristics, assemblage combines theories on practice and discourse to talk about IOs. Emanuel Adler and Vincent Pouliot define practice as “competent performances” (Adler and Pouliot 2011:6). Practice builds on action and behavior by adding meaning and serving as “patterned action that are embedded in particular organizational contexts and, as such, are articulated into specific types of action and are socially developed through learning and training” (Ibid.). In this articulation, practice is one of the social activities that occur in an assemblage and serve as an IO’s building blocks made visible by repetition. Recalling the initial framing of assemblage, I am interested in both practice and representation as structuring IOs as assemblages. In this vein, assemblage also works through discourse, which Charlotte Epstein defines as “a cohesive ensemble of ideas, concepts, and categorizations about a specific object that frame that object in a certain way and, therefore, delimit the possibilities for action in relation to it” (Epstein 2008:2). An assemblage is represented through particular ideas, concepts, and categorizations in addition to making particular ideas, concepts, and categorizations possible. In other words, if we see discourse as “sense-making practices” then an assemblage is both activated by and activates discourse (Epstein 2008:4). Tracing an assemblage amounts to tracking the different practices of an IO as well as following the many discourses involved in representing the IO. Usefulness for IOs The field of IO studies is diverse and increasingly complex. However, at least three practices 6. I thank an anonymous reviewer for pushing me to make this clarification.


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appear, often in tandem, to dominate the study of IOs: first, a commitment to describing and/ or explaining particular IOs; second, attempts to theorize about all IOs more generally; and third, linking IOs to other transnational, domestic, and local institutions. A large portion of IO scholarship falls under the first practice of describing and/or explaining particular IOs. Focusing on IO effects, this scholarship is concerned with demonstrating how an IO “matters” in international politics (for example, on the World Bank see Nielson, Tierney, and Weaver 2006; on the UNSC see Hurd 2007; on the WTO see Goldstein, Rivers, and Tomz 2007; on the IMF see Weaver 2010). Typically, IOs exert influence on national governments and the central question becomes: How did the IO change state behavior? The second practice theorizes about IOs more generally as actors in international politics and continues with the framing of IO effects on state behavior. Realist approaches treat IOs as instruments to express power relations among states. Scholars working within this tradition generally attribute no independent effect to IOs in affecting state behavior (Mearsheimer 1994/1995) or may use state concerns for power to account for institutional genesis (Ikenberry 2001).7 Neoliberal institutionalist approaches agree with the realist characterization of IOs except in two important assumptions on uncertainty and states as unitary actors. Unlike realists, neoliberal institutionalists perceive information scarcity as variable rather than constant. IOs act to reduce information scarcity, thereby mitigating uncertainty and improving the likelihood of interstate cooperation (Keohane 1984; Keohane and Martin 2003). In addition, neoliberal institutionalists move away from one of realism’s core tenets of the unitary actor assumption to unpack state preferences (Moravcsik 2003) as well as show cases where state power is endogenous yet epiphenomenal to IOs (Fortna 2003). Constructivist approaches treat IOs as norm diffusers, perhaps reflecting a world society/culture (Meyer 2009; Finnemore 1996), and as black boxes to open and reveal institutional and/or cultural logics (Barnett and Finnemore 2004). While constructivist approaches disregard the source of power to lie only in material capabilities of states, the constitutive narrative of rules changing actor identity still relies on states as the primary actor (Wendt 1999). The third practice situates IOs within other transnational, domestic, and local institutions by traversing multiple levels of analysis in order to reveal the networked connections of IOs with transnational movements (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998), domestic politics (Simmons 2009), and local systems (Carpenter 2003). Furthermore, principal-agent (PA) approaches to IOs import insights from comparative politics and branch off into two segments. Principalcentered approaches are similar to neoliberal institutionalism where the concern is when and why states delegate authority to IOs (Hawkins et al. 2006; Milner 2006). Agent-centered approaches regard IOs (agents) as having independent effects on state (principal) preferences by treating any agency slack as intentional and strategic (Hawkins and Jacoby 2006; Gould 2006). The agent-centered PA approach is part of a larger reorientation to provide more agency to IOs in constructing rules for the world. While this group of scholars is most likely to include IO process in their accounts, the end goal typically remains to show the myriad ways in which IOs matter for state action. 7. With full understanding that Ikenberry would not self-identify as a realist, his argument still bears similarity with realism’s core claims.


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Despite their differences, all three practices in IO literature share their focus on the effects of IOs and on analyzing degrees of independence in the state-IO relationship. How do assemblages help inquire differently about IOs? First, assemblages allow us to hook on to and transcend the traditional state/nonstate and human/nonhuman boundaries in identifying relevant political actors in IR. Assemblages displace the privilege afforded to state actors as the exclusive purveyors of IOs and opens space for representing nonhuman objects that help plug human interactions to each other. The interchangeability bias of IO and international governmental organization (IGO) is prevalent in the field of IO studies and draws from the state-centrism in IR theory more broadly. Contra this prevailing view, the assemblage approach does not give a priori agentic status to any actor, as iterated by the first characteristic of assemblages; instead, in following the practices and representations that constitute a particular assemblage, it focuses on the players without whom the game could not be played. For instance, when examining the World Trade Organization (WTO) as an assemblage, we would pay attention to nongovernmental organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and their role in setting the conditions for liberalizing international trade through institutionalized networking of exporters worldwide. Whereas the WTO formally exists as a governmental organization, other actors confer robustness on the broader international trade regime from which the WTO derives its discursive leverage. Also, in documenting international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an assemblage view would piece together the different arrangements of government officials, economists, and their financial instruments that make possible the surveillance of exchange rates and other financial risk indicators for borrower profiles. These latter technologies are an integral part of the functioning apparatus that help the IMF cohere and project itself as a unitary actor in international finance. Second, assemblages refashion the structure/agency debate in the relationship between states and IOs to conceive of assembled instead of delegated authority. States are not external to the IOs constraining and enabling action but are one of the key assemblers (along with nongovernmental actors, civic society, etc.) always in the process of relational recomposition. Strands of IR theory differently emphasize the agency of IOs vis-à-vis states, such as by positing that IOs are no more than puppets of state power (realism), IOs are independent of state actors (neoliberal internationalism), or that states delegate authority to IOs with space for agency slack (principal-agent approaches). The ontology of IO as actor, forum, or resource seems to map on a structure-agency continuum. In this narrative, it matters whether or not IOs have an identity distinct from their creators (usually governments, although this gets more complicated in nongovernmental organizations) so that IOs may influence state behavior. Such traditional framing emphasizes the effects of IOs as a claim to relevance in international politics. Alternatively, an assemblage view takes IOs as effects and portrays boundaries in the IO– state relationship as manufactured instead of given. This means reorganizing the relationship of states and other political actors to IOs such that the question is not how much independence the latter has from the former but how the process of assembly results in such boundarymaking in the first place. Referring back to the second characteristic of assemblages, the


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puzzle is how coherence and distinctiveness emerges in IO self-identity. For instance, thinking about the UN Security Council as an assemblage may lead us to ask how the council organizes authoritative relations not only among its members but also with other UN bodies. In some conventional wisdom, the council may appear to be a tool in the hands of states—for example when failing to put together tougher sanctions on Iran or not intervening in Syria—or as an independent actor—for example in its ability to set the terms of debate on international peace and security as compared to other forums. However, an assemblage view would see the variation in agency as not very compelling, and the attempt to measure influence either as a change in state behavior or in guiding the discourse on legitimacy may miss the broader point that the council serves as a projection of how states relate to themselves. IO as assemblage’s relational focus does not just highlight the space between structure and agency but also portrays assemblage as a particular representation of space that exists in structure and agency. Third, IOs as assemblages focuses as much on the specificities of an IO coming into existence as it does on how its existence matters for international politics. An assemblage approach makes connections between these two seemingly distinct operations of IO as an effect and the effects of an IO through inquiring: How do the processes of constructing IOs inform their efforts in constructing politics? How do the “inner workings” of IOs help explain their ontology as actor, forum, or resource? Alternatively, as specified in the third characteristic of assemblage, how do the authorization of particular identities, knowledge, and action occur over others? An assemblage approach might privilege a historical analysis of how IOs come to be the way they are but assemblage tracing can also work in highlighting contemporary associations. For example, the European Union (EU) has assumed many shapes over the last few decades. One analytical result of seeing the EU as an assemblage is to follow the historical development of the different components of the EU from its inception as the European Coal and Steel Community till the present. Another may be to parse out the various links currently constituting the EU in an attempt to map out the interactions that keep the engines running everyday. Both of these moves may be conducted as traditional network analyzes—either emphasizing temporal breadth or current depth—that already persist in organization studies but with two exceptions. First, the added language of assemblage focuses the research question on how the shape of an assemblage may affect its capacity to shape others. Second, assemblages use network analysis not as the outcome of what is being described but as a method of describing. In other words, the EU as an assemblage may not really look like a network, conventionally conceived, but it is traced by following networks in the assemblage. Fourth, and perhaps most fundamentally, simply invoking the terminology of assemblage directs inquiry on action and process given the accompanying images of building and composition. While the attention to IO process is not unique to assemblages, there is a stronger emphasis in the assemblage story on interpretation alongside intentionality. For example, the conventional perspective on institutional design uses state intentionality as the scope conditions for the possibilities of IO actions (the foremost example being Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal 2001). By contrast, in an assemblage approach, IO design is never complete such that what may initially serve as the impetus for an IO’s entry into the world does not result in a finished product as much as the start of a process. One crucial part of this


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process is the interpretation—referred to in the fourth characteristic of assemblage as play— associated with assembly. Assemblages are reproduced on the basis of redesign and changing intentionality along with interpretation and performance. There is some institutional flexibility in responding to the authoritative practices and discourses allowing slight modifications and “off-performances” that lead to gradual change in the assemblage. Despite the conditions for ephemerality, IOs endure. Interpretations may be deviant but are not always subversive. For instance, UN peacekeeping operations confront many opportunities to interpret UNSC mandates in the field. Different field commanders across various peacekeeping missions contextually define the meaning of “robust force” and “self-defense.” As an assemblage, UN peacekeeping is held together by a vast array of practices and representations that do not always make sense to practitioners. Some of these relations are reified and so endure; others are contested and so discarded. IOs as assemblages place the process of this discovery at the forefront of any analysis. Conclusion In this paper, I offer an alternative framework of how to think about IOs. I argue that seeing IOs as assemblages opens them up to novel forms of inquiry that help us better understand social structures. Focusing on the practices and representation of assembling IOs means we have access to a fuller picture of how international relations are organized. IOs are assemblages of problem-solving deliberative arrangements that frame discourses and experiment with creative action. Power flows through the assembly process as IO ontology of actor, forum, or resource is constitutive with socially mediated local and global interactions. While beyond the scope of this paper, important questions remain about how assemblages hold on to their coherence and robustness. The next step would be to empirically flesh out IOs as assemblages in future studies. Foreseeing a research agenda, there are four avenues that may be productive in moving the IOs as assemblage approach forward. First, IOs are situated in a larger landscape of global governance that is often portrayed as increasingly networked and flattened (Slaughter 2004). Considerations of power take a back seat in this vision of horizontal fluidity. Using assemblages to map IOs involved with global governance introduces the hierarchical relations and blockages that are so frequent in how international politics is conducted. Second, as organizational politics between IOs becomes more acute for IR scholars, assemblages help frame the discussion by drawing together different sets of IOs. Examining inter-institutional relations is a fertile ground for the assemblage approach as it speaks to the interactive and interpretive attributes of diverse IO practices. Third, the empirical proliferation of international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) is matched by a dearth of scholarship examining possible theoretical implications on how we study IR. Research on IOs as assemblages would better help accommodate INGOs into statedominant narratives on governance, authority, and sovereignty. Finally, it is becoming less clear what exactly counts as international and how it is made. Assemblages work to produce the effect of something that we can recognize as international within which we have relations. Looking ahead, then, a new approach in the study of IOs seems ready to be assembled.


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REFERENCES Adler, Emanuel and Vincent Pouliot (2011) International Practices, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Barnett, Michael and Martha Finnemore (2004) Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Bennett, Jane (2005) “The Agency of Assemblages and the North American Blackout,” Public Culture 17(3):445–65. Bennett, Jane (2009) Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, Durham: Duke University Press. Carpenter, Charli (2003) “‘Women and Children First’: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian Evacuation in the Balkans 1991–95,” International Organization 57(4):661–94. Cox, Robert (1983) “Gramsci, Hegemony, and International Relations: An Essay on Method,” Millennium 12(2):162–75. Cox, Robert (1987) Production, Power, and World Order: Social Forces in the Making of History, New York: Columbia University Press. DeLanda, Manuel (2006) A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity, New York: Continuum. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Epstein, Charlotte (2008) The Power of Words in International Relations: Birth of an Anti-Whaling Discourse, Cambridge: The MIT Press. Finnemore, Martha (1996) National Interests in International Society, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Fortna, Virginia Page (2003) “Scraps of Paper? Agreements and the Durability of Peace,” International Organization 57(2):337–72. Foucault, Michel (2007) Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège De France 1977–1978, New York: Picador. Gould, Erica R. (2006) “Delegating IMF Conditionality: Understanding Variations in Control and Conformity,” in Darren G. Hawkins, David A. Lake, Daniel L. Nielson, and Michael J. Tierney (eds.) Delegation and Agency in International Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goldstein, Judith L., Douglas Rivers, and Michael Tomz (2007) “Institutions in International Relations: Understanding the Effects of the GATT and the WTO on World Trade,” International Organization 61(1):37–67. Haas, Ernst B. (1990) When Knowledge is Power: Three Models of Change in International Organizations, Berkeley: University of California Press. Hawkins, Darren G., David A. Lake, Daniel L. Nielson, and Michael J. Tierney (2006) Delegation and Agency in International Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hawkins, Darren G. and Wade Jacoby (2006) “How Agents Matter,” in Darren G. Hawkins, David A. Lake, Daniel L. Nielson, and Michael J. Tierney (eds.) Delegation and Agency in International Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hurd, Ian (2007) After Anarchy: Legitimacy and Power in the United Nations Security Council, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hurd, Ian (2011) “Choices and Methods in the Study of International Organizations,” Journal of International Organizations Studies 2(2):7–22. Ikenberry, G. John. (2001) After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Jolly, Richard, Louis Emmerij, and Thomas G. Weiss (2009) UN Ideas That Changed the World, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Karns, Margaret P. and Karen A. Mingst (2004) International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Keck, Margaret E. and Kathryn Sikkink (1998) Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


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Inter-Organizational Relations as Structures of Corporate Practice1 by Ulrich Franke, University of Bremen, and Martin Koch, Bielefeld University This article starts from the assumption that global order emerges from relations among states, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and informal institutions, such as the Group of Twenty (G20) or the World Economic Forum. It addresses the question: How can the variety of these inter-organizational relations in world politics be studied theoretically? In search of an answer, we draw on the concept of structures of corporate practice, which, rooted in the philosophy of classical pragmatism, was established as a common framework for all constituents of world politics (be it states, international organizations, or else). We argue that it is not only the constituents of world politics that can be conceptualized as structures of corporate practice but also the relations between them. In this way, the concept of structures of corporate practice might help us to explore how these relations (referred to as interorganizational relations) contribute to global order. To illustrate the heuristic potential of our approach we briefly look at relations between the United Nations and the G20 that are located at the very center of world politics. Introduction The last decades have witnessed a rising awareness both in politics and academia that the increasing number of global problems cannot be managed by states alone. Hence, environmental challenges, transnational terrorism, financial stability, and numerous other issues are held to require close cooperation between different organizations, such as states, international (governmental) organizations (IOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), or any other form of institutionalized collective action. Today, these kinds of relationships are ubiquitous and play an increasingly significant role in shaping world politics. Also referred to as “inter-organizational relations,” they do not only conclude collaboration among IOs (as in the case of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Bank) but also cooperation between states and IOs (such as the role of the permanent members in the United Nations Security Council), relations between IOs and NGOs (e.g., cooperation between the 1. Earlier versions of this article were presented and discussed at the 10th Millennium Conference of the International Studies Association’s Comparative Interdisciplinary Studies Section (CISS) in July 2010 as well as at the 52nd and 54th Annual Conventions of the International Studies Association in March 2011 and April 2013. We would like to thank all participants who, by their questions, comments, and suggestions, have contributed to the present version. We also express our gratitude to Benjamin Herborth, Christoph Humrich, Dieter Kerwer, Andrea Liese, Stephan Stetter, and two anonymous reviewers. Finally, we would like to thank Ulrich Roos as the concept “structure of corporate practice” is a product of the cooperation between him and one of the authors (see Franke and Roos 2010).


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World Bank and Transparency International), or relations between IOs and informal institutions (such as the United Nations [UN] and the Group of Twenty [G20]). As a consequence, we do not conceive inter-organizational relations in a narrow sense as relations among IOs (Koops 2013:72) but as the variety of external relations between an IO and other constituents of world politics in its environment—be it states, IOs, NGOs, or informal institutions. All of these kinds of inter-organizational relationships, so says our assumption, play a significant role in the creation of global order. When it comes to analyzing inter-organizational relations, however, the discipline of international relations (IR) in general and IR theories in particular still tend to underestimate both the theoretical meaning and the empirical relevance of the full spectrum of this field. Since states have been predominantly conceived as sole actor, main actor, or principal, it is hardly surprising that IOs were either neglected or treated as epiphenomena. Even though theoretical debates touched upon the influence of IOs on interstate relations, those relationships that did not include states were bluntly ignored. On the other hand, the sheer omnipresence of nonstate relations in world politics has, in recent years, inspired an increasing empirical interest in cooperation between organizations and how it shapes global politics. Although there is growing awareness in IR that inter-organizational relations matter, it still remains unclear how IOs and other sorts of organizations interact, cooperate, use one another for their own purposes, and how they sometimes compete with each other. In order to tackle these questions, some reflections on how to theoretically grasp the kinds of inter-organizational relations are needed. Against this background, we will draw on the concept of structures of corporate practice (Franke and Roos 2010) as a starting-point for analyzing inter-organizational relations. We believe that this concept helps us to explore various kinds of relations in world politics and how these relations contribute to global order. Whereas IR approaches usually focus on states or on relations between states and organizations, the concept is suited to broaden our perspective on inter-organizational relations and to release us from the obligation to characterize in advance the kinds of organizations involved in a particular relation of concern. For this purpose, not only states, IOs, NGOs, and informal institutions, such as the G20, but also the relations among them are grasped as structures of corporate practice. This concept serves as a kind of common denominator for the analysis of both any world political feature to which agency is attributed and any kind of relation among them. Concretely, any kind of relation between structures of corporate practice—be it the UN and the G20, the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank, or the government of North Korea and the Executive Chairman of Google—can be examined as a distinct structure of corporate practice of its own. Taken altogether, it is for these reasons that we consider structures of corporate practice a general approach suited to make sense of the variety of inter-organizational relations in world politics. The article will proceed in three steps. In the first step, we will show how IOs have been conventionally studied in IR. From our perspective, most conceptualizations are biased by the discipline’s state-centrist history and theoretically neglect IOs’ external relations. IR theory appears insufficiently equipped for dealing with the full variety of inter-organizational relationships. In the second step, we will address accounts of global governance, resource


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dependence approaches, and sociological neo-institutionalism, as well as network theory, which have already gained some relevance in IR on the level of analyzing the rather new field of inter-organizational relations. These approaches, however, usually concentrate on relations between similar kinds of participants in a particular policy field. Since we are looking for a more general model that grasps inter-organizational relations among all constituents of world politics, the actors within organizations, and their potentials to act in inter-organizational relations, we will, in the third step, turn to the concept of structures of corporate practice. To illustrate its heuristic potential, we will very briefly refer to relations between an IO (the UN) and an informal institution (the G20) as well as their contribution to global order. International Organizations in International Relations Theory Global order emerges from a variety of inter-organizational relations. These encompass different kinds of organizations such as states, IOs, NGOs, or informal institutions (such as the Groups of Seven [G7], Eight [G8] or Twenty [G20]). To foster our argument that the study of interorganizational relations would gain from their conceptualization as structures of corporate practice this section shows how international organizations and their external relations have conventionally been studied in IR theory. Referring to international law, IR scholars usually define international governmental organizations (IOs) as “an association of States, established by agreement among its members and possessing a permanent system or set of organs, whose task it is to pursue objectives of common interest by means of co-operation among its members” (Virally 1981:15). Although definitions might vary according to the minimum number of member states, they put an emphasis on the relationship between IOs and states. With this preliminary observation in mind, we now discuss how formal IOs and their relations to other organizations are studied in IR—from neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism to global governance approaches and constructivism. Approaches such as the (neo)realist one, to begin with, assume IOs serve as instruments for states to further the latter’s particular interests; they “largely mirror the distribution of power in the system,” while “the most powerful states in the system create and shape institutions so that they can maintain their share of world power, or even increase it” (Mearsheimer 1994–95:13). Regime-based approaches and neoliberal institutionalism on the other hand argue that IOs offer an arena for states to reach agreements. As arenas, IOs form an administrative frame for negotiations that facilitates agreements among states by providing and enabling, inter alia, institutional venues, organizational procedures, and agendasetting. Hence, IOs are regarded as “permanent institutions of conference diplomacy in which states may exchange information, condemn or justify certain actions and coordinate their national political strategies” (Rittberger et al. 2006:6). This perception is shared by neoinstitutional approaches. Although neo-institutional approaches assume that IOs can operate as actors in the international system—by monitoring and sanctioning states’ behavior, for instance (Keohane and Nye 1972; Krasner 1995)—they do not accredit IOs with a similar quality of autonomy as they claim for states. Neo-institutionalism argues that IO decisions are, in fact, still made by states—and solely by states—under the roof of an IO; thus, IOs are just playing fields for states (Rittberger et al. 1997).


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Compared to these models, global governance approaches perceive IOs as actors on the international stage. Whereas their acting part is disputable, they are seen as either supporting actors or protagonists (Rittberger et al. 2006:6–7). The role of IOs as supporting actors is mostly emphasized in principal-agent models (particularly prominent in EU governance studies; see Pollack 1997; Copelovitch 2010; Da Conceiçao-Heldt 2010; Hawkins et al. 2006). According to these models states (as principals) use IOs (as agents) to deal with interstate problems. States delegate those tasks to IOs that they are not able or willing to fulfill themselves. Yet, principal-agent models conceive IOs as actors in their own rights—as a problem that needs to be solved by better control. Therefore, they scrutinize the tools that principals can employ “to rein in errant behavior by IO agents” (Nielson and Tierney 2003:242). Other global governance approaches conceptualize IOs as protagonists of global order. These approaches are based on the assumption that—because of a growing number of interstate linkages—it becomes necessary to develop, maintain and implement accepted norms and standards on a global scale. In this respect, IOs are perceived either as persecutors of a global order or at least as an indicator of a structure of global order in the making (Dingwerth and Pattberg 2006b). Albeit from a different perspective, the idea that IOs are relevant to an emerging global order has also been advocated by IR constructivists—some argue that IOs are prototypes of an emerging world state (Wendt 2003). Most constructivist studies deal with IOs as institutions in a broad sense understood as reified sets of inter-subjective constitutive and regulative rules. As social structures, institutions—on the one hand—influence the behavior of states and— on the other hand—enable social interaction in international politics: Institutional rules and norms stabilize mutual expectations and offer actors a framework for perceiving and organizing the world (Risse 2003:108). Starting out from these assumptions, a constructivist analysis of international institutions must give center stage to norms and shared practices in order to comprehend and appreciate the ways in which these create and mirror intersubjective normative understandings (Kratochwil and Ruggie 1986; Simmons and Martin 2002:198). Picking up on this claim, a number of sophisticated constructivist studies have dealt with both the effects and the role of institutional norms (see among many others Finnemore and Sikkink 1998; Klotz 1995; for the field of security see Katzenstein 1996; Kier 1997). In sum, IOs play a significant role in IR both in theoretical and empirical studies. It can be taken for granted that they have an effect on world politics—be it as an agenda-setter, an institution of conference diplomacy, a different playing field for states, a norm entrepreneur, or a monitoring, legitimizing, or even sanctioning institution. Even though the academic literature on IOs is vast and sheds light on various facets of IOs, its main concern is the relationship between IOs and states and how the one influences the other. This emphasis, unfortunately, tends to neglect other relations such as those among IOs or those between IOs and NGOs, epistemic communities or informal institutions. We need theoretical approaches that make it possible to conceptualize various kinds of inter-organizational relations—regardless of whether states are involved or not. Theorizing Inter-Organizational Relations The previous section showed that even though the study of international organizations and their contributions to global order has increasingly been considered relevant in IR, most conventional


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theories are not capable of grasping the full variety of relationships among the constituents of world politics. Thus, we will now turn to three strands of IR research that more elaborately deal with inter-organizational relations and look at what they have to offer.2 These strands

are accounts of global governance again, resource dependence and neo-institutionalist approaches, as well as network theories.

Accounts of Global Governance In contrast to most IR theories, accounts of global governance have brought about a significant amount of studies dealing with the full spectrum of inter-organizational relations. The rising number of international problems that could not be solved by states is seen as a major challenge on the one hand and as a proof for the need of international concerted action on the other (Commission for Global Governance 1995:370). Including “systems of rule at all levels of human activity—from the family to the international organization—in which the pursuit of goals through the exercise of control has transnational repercussions” (Rosenau 1995:13) global governance is introduced as a concept that guides the analysis of political processes beyond the state level (Dingwerth and Pattberg 2006a:198). This helps to overcome an exclusive focus on states because no specific organization is prioritized.3 Instead, governance is grasped as an activity that takes place through states, IOs, NGOs, and informal institutions (Reimann 2006; Reinalda 2011; Weiss and Kamran 2009; Whitman 2009). Primarily empirical, global governance studies analyze specific relations among selected constituents of world politics—mostly IOs and their relations to other IOs or NGOs in particular policy fields (Jönsson and Tallberg 2010; Peet 2009; Weiss and Gordenker 1996; Liese 2010).4 Although this strand of research is still dominated by single-case studies, a growing amount of global governance approaches applies concepts and models borrowed from organization studies. In doing so they follow a path that, twenty-five years ago, had been opened by Ness and Brechin who observed that the “gap between the study of international organizations and the study of organizations is deep and persistent” (Ness and Brechin 1988:245). As organization studies have more extensively been used to study IOs in the meantime, this gap is seen to have narrowed (Brechin and Ness in this issue). Barnett and Finnemore, for instance, have shown how Weber’s model of bureaucracy can be used to study the authority and autonomy of IOs (Barnett and Finnemore 1999; 2004). Others apply insights from sociological neo-institutionalism—the so-called Stanford School—to study organizational fields (Dingwerth and Pattberg 2009; Dobusch and Quack 2009; Steffek 2010; Vetterlein and Moschella 2013), refer to IOs’ legitimacy (Weaver 2008; Moschella 2010; Barnett and Coleman 2005) or conceptualize IOs’ external relations and their (varying degrees of) openness toward transnational organizations such as NGOs or profitoriented enterprises by means of resource dependence models (Liese 2010; Tallberg and Jönsson 2010; Gest and Grigorescu 2010). 2. Inter-organizational relations are also examined in economics and administration studies. In contrast to IR, however, scholars of both disciplines are less concerned about forms of global order and engage with economic and administrative problems of cooperation and competition instead (Cropper et al. 2008; Galaskiewicz 1985). 3. Interdependence among states becomes most obvious at the interface between economy and politics where the density of institutional arrangements to generate global order—IOs like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO—is most comprehensive and advanced (Peet 2009; Weaver 2008; Gutner 2010; Vetterlein and Moschella 2013). 4. For environmental and trade policy see Rosendal 2001; Gehring and Oberthür 2009; Raustiala and Victor 2004; Brosig 2011:150; Peet 2009; Dingwerth and Pattberg 2009; Gehring and Oberthür 2008; for security see Biermann 2008; Varwick and Koops 2009; Koops 2012; for development see Staples 2006; Wodsak and Koch 2010; for public health see Jönsson and Söderholm 1996; for human rights see DeMeritt 2012; Natsios 1996.


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In general, global governance studies do not try to offer a theoretical model for the study of inter-organizational relations. If particular studies use a theoretical model to grasp interorganizational relations, they usually refer either to resource dependence approaches and sociological neo-institutionalism or to network theories. Resource Dependence Approaches and Sociological Neo-Institutionalism An alternative model to make sense of inter-organizational relations refers to “resource dependency as a trigger for interaction” (Brosig 2011:155) among organizations. According to this model, organizations strive for resources by which they try to accomplish something. As organizations are neither self-contained nor in complete control over resources in their environment, they depend on their environment that consists of other organizations with access to certain resources or influence over activities (DiMaggio and Powell 1983). “To acquire resources, organizations must inevitably interact with their social environment,” Pfeffer and Salancik (1978:19) state. At the same time, organizations do not want to become dependent on other organizations and their resources. As a consequence, they are willing to exchange resources as long as they are not getting dependent on others (Emerson 1962; Ven 1976; Ven and Gordon 1984). In particular, organizations with access to many resources—be it money, expertise, prestige, or else—are likely to be targeted for cooperation. As organizational interplay usually takes place on the basis of reciprocal exchange, cooperation among organizations is likely if they exchange different types of resources or if “they can pool the same type of resource” (Gest and Grigorescu 2010:56). In sum, organizational interplay is held to depend on different degrees of access to certain resources. Organizations are, in principle, willing to cooperate as long as they receive resources in exchange and do not lose their independence. Besides resource dependence approaches, sociological neo-institutionalists argue that organizations are not sheer rational actors but also influenced by societal aspects like accepted norms and values. Organizational action and decisions are shaped by their social environment and socially accepted ideas, norms, values, and assumptions. These are subsumed under the notion of institution. Sociological neo-institutionalism shows that and how organizations are embedded in their social environment from which they adopt institutionalized, societally legitimated elements. “Organizations that incorporate societally legitimated elements in their formal structure maximize their legitimacy and increase their resources and survival capacities” (Meyer and Rowan 1977:352). In this respect, legitimacy has less legal but cultural implications; the social environment of an organization consists of various organizations with which it interacts and to which it responds. Specifying these environments as organizational fields, DiMaggio and Powell explain structural similarities (isomorphisms) among organizations in a certain policy field as follows: “Isomorphism is a constraining process that forces one unit in a population to resemble other units that face the same set of environmental conditions” (DiMaggio and Powell 1991:66). Sociological neo-institutionalism has been applied by scholars who describe how IOs and other constituents of world politics in a particular policy field increase their legitimacy by adapting to organizational fields—and how they get similar (Dingwerth and Pattberg 2009; Vetterlein and Moschella 2013; Steffek 2010).


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Taken altogether, the resource-dependence model and sociological neo-institutionalism have their merits for inter-organizational relation as they explain why and under which circumstances cooperation among organizations is likely. Empirical case studies illustrate the value of these approaches by testing certain hypotheses on the likelihood and intensity of cooperation among IOs (Gest and Grigorescu 2010; Vetterlein and Moschella 2013; Liese 2010). However, these models are only applicable to the study of inter-organizational relations if we assume organizations are dependent on each other and either cooperate in order to exchange goods or to increase their legitimacy through structural adaptation and imitation vis-à-vis environmental expectations. As a consequence, it is hardly possible to make sense of relations among organizations that have nothing to offer—neither resources nor legitimacy. Network Theories Although network theories have already been applied to the study of inter-organizational relations more than twenty-five years ago (Jönsson 1986), their prominence in this field was growing only recently (Brosig 2011; Jakobi 2012). Conceptualizing relations among organizations as loose networks, network theories address the question of “how the structure of interactions connecting political actors affects perceptions, attitudes, and actions, and in turn, how political behaviors transform network structures” (Knoke and Xingxiang 2008). According to Jönsson (1986) a network presupposes there are at least two participants who interact on various occasions. Instead of describing a dyadic interplay, the approach aims at analyzing complex relationships among a number of interwoven organizations. Although networks are characterized by the absence of a center and strict hierarchy, ordering principles of networks “that govern networks and steer inter-organizational interaction” (Brosig 2011:159) are held to be identifiable.5 In a similar vein, Biermann (2008) uses a network approach and includes insights from a resource-dependence perspective to examine the relations among Euro-Atlantic security institutions (UN, NATO, EU, etc.). He identifies some preliminary findings explaining the emergence and durability of inter-organizational relations as well as their repercussions on the organizations involved. Biermann’s study reveals some interesting characteristics of interorganizational relations;6 however, these characteristics do not yet provide an approach suited to make sense of the full range of inter-organizational relations as the study concentrates on IOs only. In most cases the examples chosen by those who apply network theories to make sense of world politics deal with networks composed of organizations of a similar kind (security IOs, for instance; see Biermann 2008; Brosig 2011). Even though this reduces their capacity to examine the full spectrum of inter-organizational relations, the mentioned approaches provide a valuable basis for the conceptualization of analytical tools for at least two reasons. Network approaches allow moving beyond state-centric, hierarchic, and dyadic perspectives on inter5. Brosig introduces three ordering principles of networks and explores their impact on IOs: “First, it is argued that IOs are sensitive towards the position they occupy in a network and favour those positions which promise the most advantages to them. Second, based on ecological organization theory, we can assume that actor density in situations of scarce resources naturally leads to competition, which in turn triggers a process of specialization thus increasing variation between IOs. Third, network membership is assumed to exert an isomorphic effect on IOs; as resource exchange is based on common interests and the performance of similar tasks, IOs in a network become more similar over time” (Brosig 2011:159). 6. To name but a few: networks derive from dyadic relations and have causal effects on organizations’ behavior and profile, while pressures and resources are used to overcome reluctance against cooperation (Biermann 2008:173).


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organizational relations still present in IR theory. Besides, network approaches are tying in with major insights from global governance studies (see above). Preliminary Conclusion The three approaches sketched in this section highlight the empirical richness of inter-

organizational relations studies and offer some conceptual insights in why and how IOs cooperate with other organizations. They without doubt make an important contribution to a

growing field of research, particularly regarding the question of how distinct IOs cooperate with selected IOs and NGOs in their environment (Henry et al. 2001; Joachim 2001; 2004). However,

it still remains conceptually unclear how various kinds of organizations and other constituents

of world politics can be involved in examinations of inter-organizational relations. While the presented approaches take for granted that organizations act as rational actors and cooperate with other organizations in order to exchange resources and information or to accredit each other,

these relationships say little about who is involved and how. In this context, Jönsson does well to remind us that it is not organizations in their entirety that participate in networks but individuals who occupy certain roles in there (Jönsson 1986:41; Gordenker and Weiss 1996). Unlike the

three approaches’ focus on similar organizations (co)operating in the same policy field, we are in search of a more general model—one that accounts for inter-organizational relations among

various kinds of organizations embedded in social environments, for the various actors within organizations, and for their various potentials to act in inter-organizational relations.

Against this background, we agree that insights from organization studies can be used to examine inter-organizational relations. However, we suggest perceiving IOs from the more general open system perspective (Scott 1992:25) instead of applying a specific organizational theory, such as a resource-dependence approach or sociological neo-institutionalism. An open system perspective holds that organizations are embedded in a wider environment, which contains “everything outside the organization” (Mintzberg 1979:267). Since the environment is too complex to survey, any organization makes contingent selections of irritations to which it responds. It is, therefore, an empirical question and cannot be determined a priori whether something in the organizational environment is chosen for cooperation and how this cooperation can be characterized. Moreover, organizations are not conceived as monolithic entities from an open system perspective but as “systems of interdependent activities linking shifting coalitions of participants” (Scott 1992:25). Organizations and their participants cannot be assumed to hold common goals or even to routinely seek the survival of the organization; rather, some of their activities “are tightly connected; others are loosely coupled” (Scott 1992:25). In this respect, it seems reasonable to focus on communications and other activities of people in international organizations in order to study inter-organizational relations.7 As will be shown below, the concept of structures of cooperate practice fits into the open system perspective on organizations and will help us to grasp the full spectrum of interorganizational relations. It allows studying inter-organizational relations from within IOs and other constituents of world politics. In addition, the concept of structures of corporate practice 7. “We should not forget that organizations, as such, do not interact with the environment. Individuals do the interacting, and they do it within a greater or less detailed framework of role demands, role expectations, role conflicts, and resultant role stress” (Organ 1971:80).


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does not draw on fixed assumptions about why and with whom IOs cooperate but reveals the reasons for cooperation as a result of research. Finally, the concept grasps inter-organizational relations (like those between the United Nations and the Group of Twenty) as newly emerging structures of corporate practice. In doing so, it pays attention to the various roles human beings can play in manifold situations and institutional settings. A Pragmatist Model of World Politics From the “blind spots” of the empirical studies and theoretical approaches sketched above, we conclude that a general theoretical model is required, which helps us to conceive interorganizational relations among dissimilar kinds of participants and in various policy fields. Every participant in an inter-organizational setting has to be analyzed in its own right—by means of adequate theoretical approaches and tools. As we believe that the concept of structures of corporate practice (Franke and Roos 2010) fulfills the given requirements, it is now time to elucidate what we mean by it and why we deem it to be helpful for analyzing the multitude of forms of inter-organizational relations and their contributions to global order. For this purpose, we have to start with replicating an assumption that is broadly shared: Contemporary world politics does not only involve states/national governments but also IOs, NGOs, and informal institutions, such as the Groups of Seven (G7), Eight (G8), and Twenty (G20), the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Social Forum (WSF), or the Paris Club, to name but a few. If taken seriously, this assumption has severe consequences, though: In contrast to national governments (or rather: in contrast to states which are represented by governments on the international scene)—but also in contrast to NGOs and IOs—informal institutions cannot be considered international organizations. The reason for this is that informal institutions are not based on international conventions and (usually) do not dispose of a permanent secretariat.8 Given the emerging world political role that, in the recent financial crisis for instance, is attributed to the G7, the G8, the G20, or the “Troika” (consisting of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF), it would be helpful to have an analytical framework that goes beyond relations among states/governments or between states and IOs. What is needed is a framework by means of which we can, at the same time, account for formal organizations (states/governments, IOs, and NGOs), informal institutions (the G20, the Troika, etc.), and all kinds of relations among these various structures of corporate practice. Structures of corporate practice constitute one component of a tripartite pragmatist model of the social world, the other two being (human) actor and process (Franke and Roos 2010:1065–72). In a nutshell, the three components of this model are connected with each other as follows: Process is conceived as the interrelation between structures (of corporate practice) and (human) actors. The model is denoted as “pragmatist,” since it draws on ideas and concepts by philosophers in the tradition of classical pragmatism, namely, Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), John Dewey (1859–1952), and George Herbert Mead (1863–1931).9 8. In addition, informal institutions seem to be more concerned with the preparation of decisions than they are with decision making in a strict sense. Considering decision making the core criterion for the existence of an organization (as is done in Luhmann’s systems theory, at least) thus makes for another argument not to treat informal institutions as organizations. 9. For a pragmatist approach to IR that also accounts for William James (1842–1910) see Franke and Weber 2012.


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In the remainder of this section, we will briefly recapitulate the tripartite actor-structureprocess model. In the subsequent section, we will elaborate on the model and illustrate its helpfulness for examining all types of world political relations. Concretely, we will argue that it is not only the constituents of these relations that can be grasped as structures of corporate practice but also any kinds of these relations. Structures of Corporate Practice Regarding its first component—structures of corporate practice—the pragmatist model adopts Dewey’s observation “that human acts have consequences upon others, that some of these consequences are perceived, and that their perception leads to subsequent effort to control action so as to secure some consequences and avoid others” (Dewey 1954:12). These efforts to control consequences of action can be conceived as attempts to deal with social problems that an individual cannot solve alone. They are characterized as “social strategies of problemsolving” (Franke and Roos 2010:1066), conducted by and in favor of those who are (negatively) affected by the consequences of the acts of others. Of particular importance in this context is the assumption that in the course of these common endeavors to deal with problems of action rules for action are created, consciously and unconsciously. All rules for action created to cope with a specific problem of action are held to form a structure of corporate practice (such as a family, a state, a seminar, an orchestra, an enterprise, an IO, or a social movement, for instance). According to the pragmatist model, three major types of rules for action are distinguished. The first type of rules defines the constitutive problem of action, the second type establishes various structural positions and defines the relationship among them, while the third type of rules for action constitutes the structural potential, that is, the entirety of acts or effects “that are possible and impossible for those who hold a certain structural position” (Franke and Roos 2010:1068). All examples of each of these three major types of rules for action make up a specific structure of corporate practice. Against this background, we can summarize that structures of corporate practice “are designed to govern the indirect consequences of action undertaken by the members of a collective in the desired direction” (Franke and Roos 2010:1066). And, again, they are designed to do so by means of various rules for action, which constitute the underlying problem, structural positions, and action potentials. Human Actors The second component of the tripartite actor-structure-process model is the figure of the actor. It is a peculiarity of the model that the competence to act is dedicated to human beings only. Human beings are exclusively held to be “provided with corporeality, reflexivity, and the aptitude for abduction”—properties seen as making for the capability to depart “from structurally fixed routines of action” (Franke and Roos 2010:1069). Corporeality, to begin with, “anchors the actor in time and space and endows him with the physical ability to make a difference” (Franke and Roos 2010:1069). Starting from the assumption that “the aims of social practices are shaped by pre-reflexive strivings of the body as well as fundamental beliefs understood as rules for actions” human beings’ corporeality is held to “strongly influence both the perception of a given situation and the decision between different alternatives of action” (Franke and Roos 2010:1069). Whereas, reflexivity refers to the “capability to think of oneself as of an object” and can be


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grasped “as the competence to reflect upon oneself, one’s surrounding and the world as a whole” (Franke and Roos 2010:1069), abduction names human beings’ creativity and problem-solving capacity (as well as its control). In combination with reflexivity, the aptitude for abduction is held to enable actors “to modify or replace rules for action and aims in moments of crisis,” that is, “all situations that cannot be coped with, either because there are no proven routines of action yet or because previous rules for action were thwarted by practice and thus cannot be followed any longer” (Franke and Roos 2010:1069). Given that corporeality, reflexivity, and abduction are very important for the creation of new beliefs or the modification of existing ones, it is helpful to add in this context our understanding of the term belief. It refers to “those rules for action of all three types that guide an actor’s concrete action (and so were selected out of the quantity of all possible latent rules for action)” (Franke and Roos 2010:1068).10 Process: The Interrelation between Human Actors and Structures of Corporate Practice The pragmatist model is completed by a concept of process grasped as the interrelation between structures and actors. This interrelation is held to change the characteristics of both actors and structures in time. Hence, process brings about changes in the beliefs of actors and on the level of all three major types of rules for action, that is: • in the definitions of the problems that constitute structures of corporate practice and the relationships between these structures (rule type I), • in the relationships between the various structural positions (rule type II), and • in the structural potentials (rule type III), that is, changes in those rules for action, which are understood as possibilities included in and opened by structural positions (see Franke and Roos 2010:1070). Conversely, social processes emerge from and are maintained by “both the set of qualities that constitutes a human actor’s competence to act and the different types of rules for action included in the structures of corporate practice” (Franke and Roos 2010:1070). Social processes can also be grasped as dialectics of crises and routines. In their course, some of the beliefs that guide an actor are challenged from time to time, “shaken by the intended and unintended consequences of action” (Franke and Roos 2010:1072). Put differently, beliefs occasionally get into crises and new rules for action, new ways of coping with life need to be created. In line with pragmatist philosophy, it is “the specific set of corporeality, reflexivity and the aptitude for controlling abductive processes,” which is held to bring about the possibility to deal “with these crises and to establish new routines” (Franke and Roos 2010:1072). It is in moments of crises when “those rules for action that turned out to be unsustainable” (Franke and Roos 2010:1072) are transformed or new beliefs are created. Evidently, these new or transformed beliefs for their part “will (have to) prove their worth in practice” (Franke and Roos 2010:1072) and, as routines, will prevail until the next crisis comes about.11 In sum, the tripartite pragmatist model’s focus on social processes understood as interrelations between human actors and structures of corporate practice helps us to examine 10. The concepts of reflexivity and abduction particularly point to the actor-structure-process models’ roots in the philosophy of classical pragmatism—for reflexivity see Mead 1974:214; Mead 1982:177; for abduction see Peirce 1998:216; and for the link between abduction, creativity, and the emergence of new beliefs see Joas 1992; Oevermann 1991. 11. For the actor-structure-process model’s relation to Mead’s dialectics between “I” and “me” as well as Aristotle’s distinction between efficient, final, material, and formal causes see Franke and Roos 2010:1071–2.


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social change. The model highlights the “effects that a human being’s beliefs and competence to act have on ideational structures”—and it is exactly these effects that are held to “bring about intended and unintended consequences that make change possible” (Franke and Roos 2010:1072). As we have already seen, this is thought to happen as follows: Undesired consequences of action are responded to by collective attempts to regulate them—collective attempts that take the form of structures of corporate practice. Structures of corporate practice are configured by structural positions, which include rules for action that enable and constrain human actors’ possible scopes of action (known as structural potentials). At the same time, human actors’ specific sets of corporeality, reflexivity, and an aptitude for abduction enable them “to depart from such rules” (Franke and Roos 2010:1072), that is, to bring about change. Applying Structures of Corporate Practice to Inter-Organizational Relations in World Politics After having sketched a model we think is suited to provide new possibilities of examining the manifold relations in world politics, our duty is to give an idea of how this promise could be realized concretely. For this purpose, we will engage in an attempt to illustrate the heuristic potential of the pragmatist approach of structures of corporate practice to relations between a formal international organization (the UN) and an informal institution (the G20). In this way, we not only refer to an example of highest relevance for world politics, moreover, we come up with a decisive extension of the concept of structures of corporate practice. In arguing that it is not only the constituents of world politics that can be grasped as structures of corporate practice but also the relations among them, we unfold what is contained in the original concept as a potential (on the level of the first type of rules for action; see Franke and Roos 2010:1067–8) but what has not been explicated yet. As a consequence, we will proceed in two steps. First, we will account for the UN and the G20 as separate structures of corporate practice. Second, we will briefly introduce their relations as a distinct structure of corporate practice. The United Nations and the Group of Twenty as Structures of Corporate Practice In light of the pragmatist assumptions sketched in the previous section, structures may be grasped as “socially constructed objects which, despite that they are ideational, display an effect according to their meaning” (Franke and Roos 2010:1066). We can reconstruct the meaning of a structure of corporate practice by studying the effects it brings about.12 For this purpose, it is helpful to remember the centrality attributed to the concept of rules for action when it comes to making sense of structures of corporate practice and their effects. It is the (various types of) rules for action included in a structure of corporate practice that are held to bring about—to enable and constrain—effects. Rules for action have both enabling and constraining effects; correspondingly, structures of corporate practice enable and constrain action; they make some kinds of action possible and others impossible. Against this background, it is the task of the 12. If we accept that structures “consist of signs that mutually refer to each other” (Franke and Roos 2010:1066) we see the pragmatist maxim (Peirce 1905:171) operating here, which can be summarized as signs mean their effect, or in Biblical terms: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). In a relation of mutual constitution, it is the presence (or existence) of an inter-subjectively shared structure of signs that, on the one hand, makes social meaning possible, while this very presence (of an inter-subjectively shared structure of signs or meaning), on the other hand, is brought about by (and thus depends on) human beings (see Franke and Roos 2010:1066).


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present and the subsequent subsection to illustrate how (a very small sample of) those types of rules for action could be named that guide the UN, the G20, and the interrelations taking place between them. Let us begin with the first type of rules, which defines the constitutive problem of action. The UN can be grasped as a structure of corporate practice that addresses the problem of world order. Its basic rule for action can be formulated as follows: “Shape the relations among states in a way that they are peaceful, secure, friendly, and cooperative.” Referring even more explicitly to the Charter of the UN, one could also term the basic rules like this: “[S]ave succeeding generations from the scourge of war” (Preamble); “[M]aintain international peace and security” (Article 1); “[D]evelop friendly relations among nations” (Article 2); “[A]chieve international co-operation” (Article 3). The structure of corporate practice termed G20 (which is also located “above” the level of states) primarily regulates those problems that are related to pressing challenges to global economics and finance. Hence, the G20’s basic rule for action can be phrased as: “Swiftly address all troubles on the level of global economics and finance that have the potential to produce serious imbalances.” Or in terms of the group’s self-description (even if this is of course not as prominent and recognized (yet) as the Charter of the United Nations): “[Coordinate policy between members] in order to achieve global economic stability, [and] sustainable growth”; “[Promote] financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises”; “[Modernize] international financial architecture” (G20 2013). The second type of rules for action establishes various structural positions and defines the relationships among them. In case of the UN, this, first of all, includes the creation of substructures—that is, the principal and subsidiary organs (according to Article 7 of the UN Charter): “[Create] a General Assembly, a Security Council, an Economic and Social Council, a Trusteeship Council, an International Court of Justice and a Secretariat” (Article 7.1). A rule that defines the relationship between two of the UN’s principal organs is stated in Article 12.1: “While the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.” It is on this level of principal and subsidiary organs—substructures of the structure of corporate practice termed UN—where structural positions are established. Article 97, for instance, demands: “The Secretariat shall comprise a Secretary-General and such staff as the Organization may require. The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. He shall be the chief administrative officer of the Organization.” Another prominent structural position is created by Article 23, which regulates the composition of the UN Security Council and distinguishes permanent and non-permanent members. As to the G20, it can be grasped as an effect of a rule for action of the second type that there are special assistants (sherpas and sous-sherpas) to the regular participants of the meetings (the finance ministers and central bank governors, as well as, since 2008, the heads of state and government). Concerning their relationship it is adequate to establish a rule for action that holds: “The sherpas and sous-sherpas prepare the meetings of the finance ministers, the central bank governors, and the heads of state and governments.”


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Further rules of the second type regulate the relationship between the assistants across and within national delegations to the G20 meetings or constitute working groups (such as those on the International Financial Architecture [IFA], Development, Anti-Corruption, or Energy Sustainability). Regarding the G20 meetings on the level of the heads of state and government in particular, it is another effect of a rule for action of the second type that there are the structural positions of the chair of the group as well as of a member of the “G20 Troika” (consisting of the past, the present, and the future chair). Finally, the third type of rules for action constitutes structural potentials; it defines what is possible or impossible for those who hold a structural position. Article 24.1 of the UN Charter, for instance, holds that “Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Another very prominent (and particularly influential) rule for action of this type is formulated by Article 27.3 of the Charter: “Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members.” On the level of the G20, the structural potential of a sherpa is distinct from that of a central bank governor, a finance minister, or a head of state and government. Whereas sherpas (as we have already seen above in the case of defining the relationship between structural positions in the G20 process) prepare the meetings of central bank governors, finance ministers, and heads of state and government, a rule for action formulated on behalf of the latter could be stated: “Prepare decisions that are formally to be made on the national level (according to the rules of the respective polities).” From this perspective, a central advantage of the proposed pragmatist model becomes tangible: Both structures of corporate practice, the UN and the G20, can be examined at the same time and in the same terms; the model thus serves as a kind of common denominator. This means that it is not required to predetermine whether a structure of corporate practice deemed relevant is state or non-state, formal or informal, or whether it is better described as an organization, an institution, or else. What is decisive, instead, is to conceive any human actor—be it the UN Secretary-General or a sherpa—as embedded in a (couple of) distinct structure(s) of corporate practice with various structural positions and structural potentials. Relations between the United Nations and the G20 as a Structure of Corporate Practice According to our extension of the concept, it is not only the UN and the G20 that can each be grasped as a distinct structure of corporate practice; the same holds for their relations—even if those have not been highly visible so far.13 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, however, started participating in the G20 summits in 2008 and is confident of both structures’ potential for mutual support (UN News Centre 2012). Besides, the UN has assigned Assistant SecretaryGeneral (ASG) Jomo Kwame Sundaram from the UN Department for Social and Economic Affairs (DESA) with the task to serve as the organization’s G20 sherpa. Empirically, these are the starting-points for an analysis of the relations between the UN and the G20 as a structure of corporate practice of its own. Those who will study the UN secretary general’s meetings with the G20’s heads of states and governments, or the meetings between the sherpas from the G20 members with the G20 sherpa of the UN ASG Jomo 13. This claim does not contradict the observation that the United Nations and the G20 are frequently related to each other by scholars and think tankers, mostly to propose the G20 as a (geographically more nuanced) model for reforming the UN Security Council (see, for instance, Quarterman 2010).


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Kwame Sundaram, will be in a good position to reconstruct important rules for action—either by looking at the “self-descriptions” of participants (communiqués, interviews, etc.,) or by examining how others (the media, non-participating politicians, and diplomats, etc.) think of these meetings. Regardless of which research strategy will be chosen, the rules revealed in this way will refer to underlying problems of action, structural positions as well as structural potentials; they will manifest the contribution to global order provided by that structure of corporate practice that is currently located at the very center of world politics—the relations between the UN and the G20. Conclusion Our article set in with the observation that inter-organizational relations—relations among states, IOs, NGOs, and informal institutions—are omnipresent and play an increasing role in global governance and the establishment of global order. As a consequence, we primarily aimed at proposing a conceptual tool for the study of inter-organizational relations in world politics. This tool was built around the concept of structures of corporate practice and is rooted in the philosophy of classical pragmatism. In contrast to existing approaches that engage with inter-organizational relations in IR—global governance, resource dependence and sociological neo-institutionalism, as well as network theories—we hope our model is universally applicable in that it avoids both concentrating only on a certain structure of corporate practice (IOs, for instance) and studying only a particular policy field (security, for instance). The heuristic potential of the proposed model, which focuses on (various types of) rules for action understood as a way to cope with problems of action, was exemplified by means of the UN, the G20, and—very briefly—the relations between them. It goes without saying that this was done rudimentarily and programmatically. Put differently, our examination of the multitude of inter-organizational relations has only just begun. Further research is needed to theoretically elaborate on the model and fathom its blind spots but also (and primarily so) to establish its empirical value by carrying out case studies on a broader set of relations among the constituents of world politics. For now, Pandora’s Box seems to be open. REFERENCES Barnett, Michael and Martha Finnemore (1999) “The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations,” International Organization 53(4):699–732. Barnett, Michael and Martha Finnemore (2004) Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Barnett, Michael and Liv Coleman (2005) “Designing Police: Interpol and the Study of Change in International Organizations,” International Studies Quarterly 49(4):593–619. Biermann, Rafael (2008) “Towards a Theory of Inter-Organizational Networking,” Review of International Organizations 3(2):151–77. Brosig, Malte (2011) “Overlap and interplay between international organisations: theories and approaches,” South African Journal of International Affairs 18(2):147–67. Commission for Global Governance (ed.) (1995) Our global Neighbourhood, Oxford: Oxford University Press. da Conceiçao-Heldt, Eugénia (2010) “Who Controls Whom? Dynamics of Power Delegation and Agency Losses in EU Trade Politics,” Journal of Common Market Studies 48(4):1107–26. Copelovitch, Mark S. (2010) “Master or Servant? Common Agency and the Political Economy of IMF Lending,” International Studies Quarterly 54(1):49–77.


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International Parliamentary Institutions as Organizations by Robert M. Cutler, Carleton University International parliamentary institutions (IPIs) offer a particular promise for developing the study of international organizations (IOs) as organizations, because they strikingly manifest the phenomena of democratization and transgovernmentalism. Thanks to their specific nature as both sociological and political phenomena and their special communicative role in world society, IPIs are also good candidates for the application of complexity science to international studies. The article clarifies differing approaches to IPI studies, including definitional issues, and applies a particular framework (the “paradox of intentional emergent coherence”) to understand the emergence, autopoiesis, and coherence of IPIs through different phases of their epigenetic evolution. Analysis of the evolution of Baltic Assembly demonstrates the advantages of this second-order cybernetic framework over first-order cybernetic functionalism. In the process, a strategy is set out for assessing organizational performance by IPIs. Introduction International parliamentary institutions (IPIs) offer a particular promise for developing the study of international organizations (IOs) as organizations, because they strikingly manifest the phenomena of democratization and transgovernmentalism. Thanks to their specific nature as both sociological and political phenomena and their special communicative role in world society, IPIs are also good candidates for the application of complexity science to international studies. The article clarifies differing approaches to IPI studies, including definitional issues, and applies a particular framework (the “paradox of intentional emergent coherence”) to understand the emergence, autopoiesis, and coherence of IPIs through different phases of their epigenetic evolution. Analysis of the evolution of Baltic Assembly (BA) demonstrates the advantages of this second-order cybernetic framework over first-order cybernetic functionalism. In the process, a strategy is set out for assessing organizational performance by IPIs. The first section of this article reviews what IPIs do and why and makes a few remarks about the specificity of parliaments. The second section, to provide an example for discussion, sets out a brief institutional history of the BA, discusses how its behavior would be analyzed from the structural-functional perspective, and explains why that is a partial and insufficient explanation. The third section of the article sets out an alternative framework based in the understanding that IPIs are “complex systems,” in the technical sense of the term, which is


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briefly explained. It further sets out several key terms of the approach, including epigenesis and autopoiesis, which it also defines in general and explains in particular with reference to IPIs. Section three also enumerates six learning capacities that are necessary for an organization to achieve defined phases of evolution that are denoted as emergence, autopoiesis, and coherence. For that purpose, extensive reference is made, with also some exegesis, to classic pertinent works by Etzioni (1963) and especially by Deutsch (1963). The fourth section of the article retells the institutional history of the BA, using the framework and concepts set out in section three. It is shown how this approach asks and answers questions that the other cannot, and gives a deeper understanding and more thoroughgoing explanation of the BA’s evolution (including its evolutionary failures). The fifth section of the article concludes by summarizing the argument and exploring some of its implications. The Specificity of IPIs and the Task at Hand The proliferation of IPIs (Cutler 2001) is a relatively new phenomenon, but historical antecedents to the institution can be found. For example, the Landtage of the Holy Roman Empire in the Age of the Princes, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries, and the voting military-political assembly comitia centuriata under the Roman kings before the Servian reforms, from the eighth to the fifth centuries bce, are arguably IPIs, if properly considered in the context of the international system of their respective epochs. Nevertheless, until very recently, no one would have disagreed strongly with the origin of modern IPIs as suggested by Schermers and Blokker (1995:381), who cogently write: “Since international organizations cannot be controlled effectively by national parliaments, the only conceivable solution is the establishment of international organs with the task of exercising political control over the executive.” The BA is a striking counterexample: It is not just an IPI without an international organization, properly speaking, but one that emerged directly from transnational, civil society. Nor is it alone in this; the Central American Parliament is another example. Scientific research on IPIs is not well developed despite the phenomenon having been recognized as worthy of attention over a decade ago. One of the weaknesses in the literature, beyond definitional issues, is the tendency to regard IPIs as political phenomena, slighting their reality as sociological organizations. A fruitful perspective on IPIs, capable of accumulating and integrating a significant portion of existing disparate findings, is embedded in a world-society problématique, applied specifically using the concepts and categories of complexity science. (I mean by this the German tradition of Weltgesellschaft studies initiated by Luhmann 1971, rather than the English one, which tends to subsume it as a subcategory of the “international society” approach initiated by Bull 1977; or the American one, which uses the phrase in the context of a neo-Marxist “world-systems” approach. See also Ellis 2010, esp. pp. 22–25.) Depending upon the definition adopted, the Socialist International, the Pan-African Parliament, and the UN General Assembly, as well as individual party groups within the European Parliament, may all be regarded as members of the category, despite their obvious differences. It is useful from an expository standpoint to postpone discussion and comparison with other definitions until the second half of the second section of the article, so that the historical experience of the BA’s organizational development will put some meat


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on the skeleton of the frameworks of categories that are compared there. For the purposes of discussion until then, as well as after, this article adopts Cutler’s (2006:83) definition of an IPI, which nuances his earlier (2001:209) one. According to this, an IPI is “an international institution that 1) is a regular forum for multilateral deliberations on an established basis of an either legislative or consultative nature, 2) either attached to an international organization or itself constituting one, 3) in which at least three states or transgovernmental units are represented by parliamentarians, 4) who are either selected by national legislatures in a selfdetermined manner or popularly elected by electorates of the member states.” The problem-oriented task here on which multiple theoretical issues converge is to evaluate the sources of growth and decline of IPIs. Why do some IPIs respond adequately, others more dynamically and still others with sickness unto death, to the demands of organizational life placed upon them by their (internal and external) environments? A particular approach emerging from complex-systems studies (complexity science) offers insights into this question that are unavailable from the perspective of other conceptual frameworks. Its specialized terminology is also accessible to political scientists through the more familiar if disused concept of “learning.” Understanding the Baltic Assembly’s Evolution The Baltic Assembly: A Brief Institutional History Although the European Parliament perhaps justifiably draws the most attention when the evolution and activity of IPIs are the topic of discussion, nevertheless the development of the BA illustrates more concisely an application of the framework here outlined. This may be because the BA’s development is compressed into a shorter and more dynamic timeframe as well as involving a much smaller number of participants. Leaving aside the interwar Baltic Entente (for good historical and cultural background, see Zájedová 2008), the proto-history of the BA began while the Soviet Union still existed, when the Estonian Popular Front, the Latvian Popular Front, and the Lithuanian reform movement met together, in Tallinn in May 1989. From this meeting, there was established the Baltic Parliamentary Group (BPG). The BPG was in fact nothing other than what Kissling (2011:13) calls a government run/inspired NGO (GRINGO), a “more or less loosely structured entit[y] to associate parliamentarians at the regional, supra-regional or international level . . . set up under national law, and consequently lack[ing] international personality.” As it emerged from out of the aggregate social movement for Baltic independence, it was also a nascent form of what Cutler (2001:207) calls an “international parliamentarysocietal institution” (IPSI). The BPG quickly “graduated” to become what Kissling calls an “issue-related GRINGO.” It focused particularly on juridical independence and issues related to it, such as the acknowledgment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the withdrawal of Soviet armed forces from their territories, and also other cultural, politically symbolic demands. Created as the BA in November 1991 in Tallinn, the organization sought, throughout the early 1990s, to push forward the creation of more comprehensive regional governance structures. It did succeed in motivating the creation, at the intergovernmental level, of the Baltic States Council (BSC) in 1992; however, the BSC “ceased functioning in mid-1993, although there was no official act to this effect” (Vareikis and Zygelyte 1998:5).


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Any institutional depth in the early to mid-1990s at all was achieved only thanks to the exchange of experience learnt from implementing the cooperation agreements with the Nordic Council (NC) on the one hand in 1992 and, on the other hand, the Benelux Interparliamentary Consultative Council (BICC) in 1994. There was no way organizationally for the BA to implement so ambitious one such cooperation program, much less two of them. The BA was holding only two sessions per year, and its members were already full-time parliamentarians in their own national assemblies. These developments can be set into order by use of the schema depicted in Figure 1, which illustrates the familiar structural-functional political-systems approach (Almond and Powell 1966; Easton 1953, 1965) to analyzing IPI development. Structural-functionalism once dominated North American political science and still exerts significant sway over the assumptions, sometimes unspoken, that continue to underlie influential approaches, including a widespread refusal to entertain the category of organizational learning. Its complicatedness (not the same thing as complexity!) may appear at first glance confusing, but it is fairly straightforward and altogether standard. Using the categories of Figure 1, one could say this Baltic Popular Front had significant demands but insufficient support from member-states; and significant “internal” demands (from the national civil societies) but insufficient “internal” support and capabilities; despite almost no demands yet very significant support from the international environment. Likewise, the weak level of the BA’s institutionalization would factor into [III], while relations with the NC and the BICC, for example, would fall into [IV]. The remainder of the BA’s institutional history reveals this syndrome has afflicted it for its entire life. Figure 1: A Functionalist General-Systems Inventory of Influences on IPI Behavior

Adapted from: Cutler 2006b:21.

Not until 1992 could the BA establish its own secretariat, which operated under provisional ad hoc rules for two years and adopted its own permanent procedural norms in 1994. Only then, it may be argued, did the BA become one of Kissling’s “international or regional parliamentary organizations” (IRPOs), i.e., an institution established by national legislatures cooperating together, not by national political executives, “whose members are


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official in the sense that national or regional parliaments dispatched delegations to them” and in which parliamentarians can participate only as members of national delegations. IRPOs possess a “partial international personality [that] is sui generis,” but this is “a novelty in international law” derived from the empirical study of those that actually exist; unlike GRINGOs; however, they possess full legal autonomy (Kissling 2011:15). Due to the failure of comprehensive regional international organization to establish itself in the Baltic area, the BA remained a “stand-alone” organization that was not integrated into an “international governmental organization’s system.” As an IRPO, it nevertheless retained “a derived and partial international personality sui generis and the political leverage going along with it” (Kissling 2011:26, 20). Although the BA had found it necessary to promote by itself the foundation of the Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM) in 1993, the latter did not hold its first meeting until 1994. After the BCM was finally launched in June of that year, the BA tried unsuccessfully to get it to participate in its own April 1995 meeting. Only the following year was a joint session between the BA and the BCM held. The two institutions adopted a cooperation agreement with a view toward an annual joint meeting. According to Kapustans (1998:33, details in Dekker 2004:73– 86.), the BA and BCM were originally “established and functioned on the basis of the Nordic example, then later has showed signs of direction to the Benelux model.” Even if the NC’s “external demands” for parliamentary cooperation with the Baltic States were sometimes met, they were not always met by the BA itself. For example, in the mid- and late 1990s, the national Baltic parliaments created standing committees, and even transgovernmental standing committees, in order to cooperate with the parliamentarians from the NC itself and with the NC’s member-states individually. At the time, this was seen as a success of the parliamentarization process in the Baltic States. However, even those transgovernmental all-Baltic parliamentary committees remained outside the BA framework. Eventually, the hopeful prospect of EU membership in the early twenty-first century resulted in Baltic parliamentary cooperation, which the BA once considered its own vocation, becoming placed into the framework of the EU’s regional external relations initiatives. The BA, for its part, did in 1996 adopt a program to begin coordination of legislation of the three states in order to bring them closer to the acquis communautaire with a view toward EU membership. The BA’s contacts with the NC and the BICC provided information allowing the latter two to act as “lobbies” for the Baltic States in international organizations. It is difficult to say these inter-institutional links were themselves more important than interpersonal connections among individuals holding multiple roles in multiple institutions. During this period, the BA provided a forum for the exchange of views among the three Baltic States and also for the expression of views held in common. It represented an international political resource for the respective governments in office but could not act in any autonomous or catalytic fashion. With the new century, there began within the BA a series of attempts at moderate institutional reforms designed to rationalize communications and facilitate the exchange of information. Strikingly, however, it was not until 2003 that the BA’s own work was formally coordinated with the BCM’s. In 2004, the BA and the BCM together adopted a protocol to


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their cooperation agreement routinizing somewhat their cooperation in the framework of the Baltic Council, but the Baltic Council lacks a self-standing apparatus and is constituted by that very cooperation. As of 2005, the BA was only one of four facets of Baltic parliamentary cooperation and not by any means the most important one. Other facets of Baltic parliamentary cooperation included meetings of the speakers of parliaments three to four times per year, contacts between the national parliaments’ standing committees outside the BA framework (including regular contacts among the Foreign Affairs and European Affairs committees), and contacts within the framework of other international organizations. Ribulis (2006) notes that from 1991 to 2005, the vast majority of the nearly two hundred documents adopted by the BA received no feedback from the BCM or anywhere else. In the three national parliaments, there was a low awareness of the BA, and those parliamentarians who were aware of it were inclined to rank its reputation as low. The BA’s activities were further impeded by a highly bureaucratic and cumbersome structure. The BA confronted another uncertain period following the Baltic States’ successful integration into the EU and NATO. The years from 2002 through 2007 represent a period of finding the proper questions to answer in order to promote the BA’s organizational evolution, and then finding the answers to those questions. After much discussion, the three countries agreed on the need to consolidate and simplify the consultation mechanisms. Following from the EU and NATO integration experiences, they also recognized the need to direct efforts away from declaratory activities and toward the identification and solution of practical problems. A principal reform during this period was to rationalize the BA’s committee structure and coordinate its activities with those of the three national parliaments. It is in fact remarkable that this natural development took so long to be recognized and implemented. Standing committees were created in the following fields: 1)  economics, energy, and innovations; 2) education, science, and culture; 3) natural resources and environment; 4) legal affairs and security; and 5) welfare. A sixth standing committee for budget and audit was also created, but it was then transformed into a session-specific committee with membership subject to greater scrutiny and review. This new structure has permitted a certain issue-area-specific cooperation to deepen with the NC and later BICC, through joint committee meetings of the responsible bodies of the different IPIs. The BA was nevertheless frequently sidelined by the cooperation among the national political executives of the two organizations (Nordic Council of Ministers and BCM), the members of which then take matters directly to their own national parliaments. Thus, when the Baltic States acceded to the EU, the “NordicBaltic Six” (NB6) was established among them and Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, yet lacking any specific interparliamentary component. After 2008, the BA appeared to have settled into its niche. In 2009, the BA signed a cooperation agreement with the GUAM Parliamentary Assembly, which was established in 2004, but this does not appear to have had practical effect. (GUAM is the on-and-off cooperation organization comprising Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.) Then in 2010 came the so-called “NB8 Wise Men Report” (Birkavs and Gade, 2010; for a prescient


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forerunner, see Moisio 2003), which recommended institutionalizing BA-NC meetings within a broader organizational framework. The NB8 project’s emphasis (NB8 is NB6 plus Iceland and Norway) on creating a wide-ranging and pragmatic policy-issue cooperation structure has not enhanced the BA’s profile. The Wise Men specified that meetings should be held among the speakers of parliament and among the chairmen of the foreign affairs committees, but it made no explicit reference to continuing the joint committee meetings. Work is still under way to implement the broad recommendations of the NB8 Wise Men Report, but these give greater attention to inter-executive branch cooperation and foreign-affairs coordination. During this period, BA cooperation with the BICC has also languished. The Baltic Assembly’s Institutional History: Its Analytical Significance From the preceding institutional history, there emerges the significant technical detail that despite some superficial appearances to the contrary, there is no general organization of Baltic cooperation. There is the Baltic Assembly and there is the Baltic Council of Ministers, and there is an agreement between them that regulates their relations. However, despite their cooperation being denoted as the Baltic Council, there is no comprehensive general-purpose Baltic cooperation organization of which it is part. (For example, there is no all-Baltic international court; also, individual citizens of the Baltic States do not have the right to petition the BA.) As a result, the BA has never “graduated” to Kissling’s (2011:26) category of International/ Regional Parliamentary Specialized Agencies (IRPSAs), which resemble IRPOs “except for the fact that they are somehow integrated into an international governmental organization’s system.” The BA has always been, and remains, a “stand-alone” organization. Consequently, it has also never become a parliamentary organ of an international/regional organization (POIRO), since such assemblies are “set up or confirmed by an international treaty and/or embedded in an international treaty for the governmental organization as a whole” (Kissling 2011:38; for a comprehensive review of the entire spectrum of Baltic cooperation organizations at the time of the BA’s “reform period,” see Kasack 2005:135–53). The difference between the BA’s character and capacities at the time when it was what Kissling calls a GRINGO, and its character and capacities at subsequent phases of its evolution, is sufficient to motivate a qualitative distinction between the two eras. In the taxonomy of complex world society, GRINGOs are not really IPIs but are hybrids of parliamentary formations with societal formations, which are called IPSIs (international parliamentary-societal institutions). Kissling points out that GRINGOs, whether of universalpurpose or specific-purpose kind, lack the specific sort of political influence that is possible only with an international juridical personality. Kissling’s analysis points to the difficulties with the modification by Šabič (2008) of Klebes’s (1988:879–80) earlier typology. Klebes classified IPIs by enumerating their powers. His first category includes IPIs that engage in “the management of their internal affairs (within the limits of constitutional texts and budgetary means),” his second extends this to IPIs having “a passive consultative role (reaction to requests for opinion from governmental organs),” and his third is limited to IPIs having “an active consultative role (formulation of recommendations for governmental organs).” Šabič expands the extension of Klebes’s types while collapsing it atheoretically from three to two categories. As Cofelice (2012:8) observes, Šabič introduces


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his own “slightly broader working definition of IPIs” because of his criticism that previous definitions capture “only what IPIs are, but not what they do.” However, to proceed in such a manner involves a significant category error (Ryle 1949:16). No new definition is necessary if one wishes to study what IPIs “do” instead of what they “are.” This can be done operationally within the universe of institutions and under the established definition. Šabič’s atheoretical eclecticism ends up including IPSIs and other institutions that have no international juridical personality. These organizations are definitely worthy of study, but they should not be lumped together with IPIs, which do have such a personality, as Kissling explains. To cast a wider net for the sake of expanding the number of organizations in the universe to be studied is like ensnaring tuna and other fish in the trawl for the crustaceans that one really wishes to catch. Even if the BA gives an example of a GRINGO/ IPSI evolving into an IPI, comparing the behavior of GRINGO/IPSIs with that of IPIs is strictly analogous to comparing the behavior of non-state national liberation organizations with the behavior of states, subjects of international law. Although Kissling includes GRINGOs in her inventory of IPIs, her work in fact shows why they cannot be treated equivalently: “international juridical personality” whether de facto or de jure is the key distinction. GRINGOs are capable only of “morphostatic” or firstorder changes, where either things “look different while remaining basically as they have always been” or “change occurs as a natural expression” of the organization’s development. For example, when a general-purpose GRINGO such as the BPG in 1989 becomes an issuespecific GRINGO. By contrast, the “morphogenetic” or second-order change “occur[s] in the very essence, in the core [of the organization], and nothing special needs to be done to keep the change changed” (Smith 1982:318; for background, see Prigogine & Allen 1982, and Hatt 2009; for one detailed analytical framework, see Wilden 1980:373–77; also compare Archer 1995 and Niiniluoto 1999). Using the inventory provided in Kissling’s five appendices, this writer, reviewing the manuscript research notes of Cutler (2001), finds that his empirical work in that book chapter includes all IPIs existing at the time of its final redaction in 1999 that fall into Kissling’s non-GRINGO categories. (The sole exception is the Inter-Parliamentary Union or IPU, the unique universal-membership, general-purpose IPI.) Those categories are the categories that possess some kind of international juridical personality, even if this is (in Kissling’s words) “partial and is derived from empirical analysis of existing examples.” This coincidence with Kissling’s empirical work is aesthetically gratifying, since Cutler’s definition (2001:209; subsequently nuanced in Cutler 2006a:83) was in fact designed to capture institutions having some sort of international juridical personality in particular, yet without invoking international law explicitly. There is a particularly notable correspondence between Cutler’s “ladder” of IPI organizational evolution (see Table 1: taken from Cutler 2006:90–91; in turn modified from Cutler 2001:220) and Kissling’s independently established typology. Only members of Kissling’s last two, most highly developed categories (International/Regional Parliamentary Specialized Agencies and Parliamentary Organs of International/Regional Organizations) can attain to Cutler’s levels of 3.0 or above, because only those categories of Kissling’s have


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relations with international executive institutions (i.e., “traditional” IOs established by states under international law). GRINGOs can only attain to Cutler’s level 2.5 of “rule-supervisory (advisory oversight of self).” Finally, members of Kissing’s “middle” category (International/ Regional Parliamentary Organization, IRPO) would generally also be limited to Cutler’s level 2.5; but because of their special characteristics, they could possibly attain to level 2.7, i.e., “rule-supervisory (advisory oversight of other institutions).” In the case of the BA, analysis shows that this is precisely what the BA has been unable to do and where its evolution has been blocked. Table 1: Synthesis of Epigenetic and Functional Developmental Schemata with Specifications of Their Empirical Indicators for IPIs

Source: Cutler 2006a: 90–91.


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The correspondence of Cutler’s approach with Kissling’s subsequent, separate work represents an independent validation of the former. Kissling’s exhaustive empirical work undergirds and independently strengthens, while also nuancing, Cutler’s earlier theory-based typology, of which he elaborated examples through idiographic reference to the more limited number of IPIs existing at the time of his research a decade earlier. For the sake of completing a review of previous typologies in order to make it comprehensive, it may be observed that Klebes’s (1988:879–80) still earlier enumeration of the powers of IPIs undergirds Cutler’s distinction among the levels 2.0–2.2, 2.5 and 2.7–3.0. The first corresponds to what Klebes called “the management [by IPIs] of their internal affairs (within the limits of constitutional texts and budgetary means),” the second to “a passive consultative role (reaction to requests for opinion from governmental organs),” and the third to “an active consultative role (formulation of recommendations for governmental organs).” Finally, Cutler’s levels 3.5–4.0 correspond to what Klebes called “the possibility [for an IPI] to intervene in the normative activity” of the “intergovernmental structure” with which it is integrated. Epigenesis, Autopoiesis, and Learning Epigenesis and the Autopoiesis of IPIs Among IOs, there is arguably no better candidate than IPIs for the application of complexity science (adjective: “complex-scientific”) frameworks of analysis, some of which particularly complement certain strands of world-society theoretical orientations. A complex system is a system having multiple interacting components, of which the overall behavior cannot be inferred simply from the behavior of these components. Thus, its evolution cannot be understood or analyzed through the analysis of its constituent parts. The canonical example of a noncomplex system is an automobile factory, since by studying its inputs and how they are transformed inside the factory, the output can be accurately predicted. Complex-scientific approaches arose first in thermodynamics to explain how entropy could diminish on smaller scales even while necessarily increasing on bigger scales, then in biology when life was treated as an organized complexity that decreased entropy locally. The biological cell and living organisms they compose are the canonical examples of complex systems (Varela, Maturana, and Uribe 1974). In this tradition, the key contrast is between epigenesis and preformationism (Hall 1999:112–13). According to the latter doctrine, the organism is already wholly present, or pre-formed, in the gamete. According to the doctrine of preformationism, every successive stage of development merely grows in increasing size from pre-existing structures. It may be argued that the state, invented as a (vertically) organized bureaucracy for the administration of a (horizontally) extended territory is determined in such a manner, and that this accounts for its difficulties in adapting to a networked, partially deterritorialized world-political agenda. Epigenesis, on the other hand, signifies that every successive stage in the developmental process builds upon—more precisely, accretes around—the preceding stages of development. The main principle of complexity-based approaches that I invoke here is emergent coherence and its phases (Cutler 2006b). The three fundamental categories of emergent coherence are extensions of the three categories forming the basis for the structuralist epistemology that Piaget (1968) extracts from Lévi-Strauss. In particular,


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the complex-scientific extension of the Piagetian structuralist category of “totality” is coherence; the complex-scientific extension of the Piagetian structuralist category of “selfregulation” is autopoiesis (literally “self-creation” or “self-production”); and the complexscientific extension of the structuralist category of “transformation” is emergence. The shorthand term “emergent coherence” captures this triad: autopoiesis intermediates from emergence to coherence. Autopoiesis in a complex-scientific social system is the capacity of complex systems to set its own goals through progressive interaction with their environment and through learning in response to this (Holland 1996; Luhmann 1984, 1995). As an analytical complex-scientific category, it points to the striving, by whatever organization, for autonomy of goal-definition and entelechy of goal-realization. It cannot be sufficiently stressed that the reference to “goals” is not teleological but teleonomic. This means that the goals are in a certain sense “programed” but only at the level of the particular phase of organizational evolution, in terms of response to the immediate environment; they are not in reference to some hypothetical “final cause” (see Mayr 2004:51–57). This teleonomy is a descriptive and analytical tool that “reveals the consistency in their operation within the domain of observation” (Maturana and Varela 1980:86). As an organization grows, it progressively incorporates aspects of its environment into its own functioning, adapting to them. As it matures, it begins teleonomically to generate its own goals through its interactions with the environment. A complex organization acquires, through its successive stages of maturation (i.e., ‘epigenetically’) the capacity to evolve in response to its environment. This is a key feature that distinguishes second-order from first-order cybernetic approaches. Another distinction is to say the first-order cybernetics involves the study of observed systems, where second-order cybernetics involves the study of observing systems (Maruyama 1963; Geyer 1995). A system’s adaptation to a changing environment for the purpose of survival involves the autonomous establishment of what evolutionarily appear to be self-generated goals, and this is a facet of autopoiesis. Here is a key analytical category for assessing the development of IPIs in general as well as most if not all international institutions in complex world society. Autopoiesis for an IPI, representing the foundation of autonomous motive, signifies the proactive undertaking of relations with other organizations, as opposed to remaining only a coordinating center for actions of its own component organizational elements. To achieve autopoiesis, for example, the requisite learning capacities are steering capacity and depth of memory. Whether a given IPI has the organizational resources to put these capacities into evidence, plus the normative basis upon which to exercise them, will go a long way toward determining the success or failure of those two key problem tasks, of more general institutional growth or decline, and eventual organizational life or death (or stagnation). It will be indicated later in this article exactly how the BA’s difficulties result from such failures. Organization “inherently involves functions and their interrelations” (Rosen 1991:280), so the development of internal and external functions, posited by a structural-functional taxonomy, represents a set of potentials for the evolution of any given organization. The innovation and incorporation of procedures for accomplishing “internal functions” represent a response to developmental challenges in the life of the institution. The Table 1 “ladder”


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for assessing IPI evolution illustrates how organizations must, as a rule, first evolve internal functions permitting them to exist stably in relation with their constituent parts, before engaging subsequently, pro-actively, with the external environment. The evolution from one phase to the next of its epigenetic development is a marker of organizational success in adapting to the requisite tasks. The passage from one phase of evolution to another, in the epigenetic course that inheres in any type of international institution, represents successful institutional adaptation to a changing environment. The phases marked in Table 1 are not point discontinuities in the evolutionary ladder of an IPI qua institution but are transitions in the evolution and organization of its activity. In the more familiar structural-functional framework, these are called initiation, take-off, and spill-over. In the more appropriate complex-scientific framework, they are called (with differently nuanced meaning) emergence, autopoiesis, and coherence. A second-order-cybernetic approach founded in the theory of complex systems is able to operationalize autopoiesis, better than any recitation of functional mechanisms. In particular, a complex-scientific approach motivates a framework for evaluating the growth and decline of organizations and other social systems, determining what leads some of them to respond adequately to demands imposed upon them by their environment and others not (Cutler 2006b). Such a framework synthesizes a functional taxonomy of how organizations maintain homeostasis in order to survive with an epigenetic taxonomy of how organizations develop and adapt in order to grow (Etzioni 1963; for details respecting IPIs, Cutler 2001; for application, Cutler and von Lingen 2003; for abstract theorization, Cutler 2006b). Such an epigenetic approach helps to reduce the complexity. The epistemological leap from first-order to second-order cybernetics consolidates the functional framework expressed in Figure 1 into an epigenetic expression, in Figure 2, which portrays a cycle schematizing the development or the failure to develop (of any organization) at any phase of evolution. Figure 2: The Paradox of Intentional (Autopoietic) Emergent Coherence: A Cyclical Developmental Framework for Organizations and Social Systems, Unifying the Functional and Epigenetic Approaches

Source: Cutler 2006b:21

The epigenetic approach renders the structural-functional schema more parsimonious with no sacrifice of analytical rigor. This transformation reveals that the structural-functionalist loop (Figure 1) is embedded in the realization of an IPI’s own epigenetic development, that it indeed hides this, and that its own parameters are conditioned by the latter. Only two conceptual consolidations are required to transform the functionalist (first-order-cybernetic) schema in


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Figure 1, so as to reveal its epigenetic (second-order-cybernetic) essence as in Figure 2 (for details, see Cutler 2006:21–22). From them, two insights emerge that are not evident from the purely functional framework. First, what the endogenous demands and supports actually are evolve with each stage of development through which an IPI passes. Second, conversion, decision, and implementation each represent a response to the challenge of self-transformation presented by the imperative to outgrow one stage of development and enter another. What follows from the first of those two insights is that we may treat demands and supports together as a single manifestation of the epigenetic challenges proper to the stage of development reached by the IPI in question. What follows from the second is that conversion, decision, and implementation may be collapsed into a single category representing the IPI’s performance surmounting the given stage of development (i.e., its response to those epigenetic challenges). Table 2: How Deutschian “Capacities” Operationalize Performance Variables and Transform First-Order Cybernetics into Second-Order Cybernetics

Source: Cutler 2006b:18.

Evolution and Organizational Learning Table 2 maps the internal functions and the stages of epigenetic development onto a common domain. The evolutionary scheme in Table 2 illustrates the identity of the “normativeintegrative” external function with Etzioni’s (1963) seminal “nature of emerging units” category of epigenetic sequences of integration. In particular, the evolutionary levels of the simple taxonomy—congress, assembly, parliament, and legislature—fall under the umbrella of external functions, specifically as the stages of the normative integration of the IPIs. As such, they have particular reference to their status and personality and competence under international law.


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(The connection here to Kissling’s typology has already been made clear.) That correspondence integrates the principal categories of the epigenetic framework (top two rows of Table 2) and the principal taxonomy of the functional framework (bottom two rows of Table 2). Under the functionalist framework, there are three elements of “interactions with other organizations” (hierarchies, goal-definition, and goal-realization taken together, threat systems), and under the epigenetic framework there are three performance criteria. Table 2 sets these into a one-to-one correspondence and operationalizes the first-order-cybernetic categories in a necessarily second-order-cybernetic manner. There is, then, a one-to-one correspondence between the functional framework’s subcategories of interactions with other organizations and the epigenetic framework’s criteria of performance. Undergirding the logic is a synthesis of the two frameworks offered by Deutsch and by Etzioni. Their full synthesis, denoted the “paradox of intentional emergent coherence” (Cutler 2006b), lays stress on the complex-scientific category of autopoiesis and its associated phenomenon, learning. It may be summarized as follows. The limitations of the conceptual apparatus available to Etzioni (1963) a half-century ago left him sometimes a prisoner of a functionalist and homeostatic framework. Studying phenomena of complex world society today requires the reconceptualization of his parameters for evaluating the “performance” of what he called the “epigenesis of political communities.” The limits upon the growth of knowledge that affected Etzioni also applied to Deutsch’s (1963) advanced cybernetic work of social science published the same year. It was a limitation of the era. Deutsch’s approach, however, may properly be called “one-and-a-half-order” cybernetic, akin to the “middle voice” of verbs in classical Greek, where the subject acts on or for itself, halfway between (passive, observed) first-order-cybernetic and the (active, observing) second-order-cybernetic frameworks (compare Juarrero 1999:109–25 passim; see also Geyer 1995). Introducing second-order cybernetic correctives to Etzioni’s original taxonomy of performance variables transforms the above-discussed functionalist framework, which treats organizations homeostatically. In particular, it transforms that framework into a fully epigenetic cycle of organic development (Cutler 2006b). Deutsch (1963:133) is mainly concerned with capacities for learning and their loss. For this purpose, he considers “mind” to be “a self-preserving physical process of communicating and manipulating symbols” that he “provisionally define[s] as any self-sustaining physical process that includes the nine operations of 1) selecting, 2) abstracting, 3) communicating, 4) storing, 5) subdividing, 6) recalling, 7) recombining, 8) critically recognizing, and 9) reapplying items of information.” The two conditions sine qua non for learning, he calls “novelty” and “creativity.” Novelty is “produced” in the first three of those nine operations, through which “th[e] new combination of old elements [is] matched or abstracted in the mind.” Creativity is then “consummated” in the next four (storing, subdividing, recalling, and recombining), whereby “a new image or symbol must be stored, pertaining to the new pattern as a whole, regardless of its earlier combinatorial origin” (emphasis in the original). Unlike eclecticism, creativity “abstracts and reapplies new patterns from the combination.” When a “new pattern [is] applied [not only] to new recombinations within the mind [but moreover] to new patterns of action by the effectors of the net,” then this, “the beginning


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of some new item of behavior, we may call initiative.” Initiative, then, consists in the eight and ninth operations that Deutsch attributes to the mind, “reapplying [the recombined then critically recognized] items of information” (1963:133, 133–34, 134). For Deutsch, then, restated in complex-scientific terms, “novelty” is the taproot of emergence, “creativity” is the taproot of autopoiesis, and “initiative” is the taproot of coherence. The relations of Deutsch’s six learning capacities (middle row of Table 2) to the three phases of the paradox of intentional emergent coherence unfold from that insight. Deutsch’s taxonomy of six obstacles to learning (“losses” of capacity that impede it) provides the operationalization of IPI performance at each stage of epigenetic development. Although his language couches the explanation in terms of an individual person or consciousness, there is no anthropomorphism involved in conceiving the boundary of the “organism” to define an organization. One may therefore apply the discussion to social and political institutions composed of human beings, including IPIs. Types of Learning Capacity and What They Enable In this manner, Deutsch’s work helps to render Etzioni’s approach more epigenetic, drawing it closer to a second-order cybernetic perspective. Deutsch’s (1963) remarks on obstacles to learning in cybernetic systems are directly to this point. Specifically, he discusses “losses,” any of which can prevent effective learning. Since the inverse of such a loss is a capacity, he in fact enumerates six capacities that promote learning. It turns out that a different pair of these six capacities for learning are related to each of the three performance variances (hierarchies, goaldefinition and goal-realization taken together, and threat systems). Three pairs of capacities are mutually exclusive, and, collectively, they exhaust the set of six, as follows: 1. Hierarchies are promoted primarily by the capacity for “fundamental restructuring” and secondarily by the capacity for “[partial] inner rearrangement.” For Deutsch, these have to do with commitment. Here his attempts to translate into modern cybernetic terms certain concepts of Enlightenment philosophy begin. (He subsequently addresses reverence, idolatry, love, curiosity, grace, and spirit in information-processing language.) “Faith,” he writes (emphasis in the original), as a “concept of commitment . . . may be faith in ‘fear and trembling’” that the proposition to which one is committed may be wrong or wrongly understood or wrongly enacted or impossible to enact; but what matters is commitment to the proposition. Faith he would balance by “humility [that] might advise us to distrust our judgments even in such cases.” Deutsch thus advises to “combine humility with faith” for this permits “rapid but thorough commitment” while maintaining openness “to alternative information and the capacity for rearrangement and possible recommitment to other goals” or to different understandings of goals previously sought (Deutsch 1963:232, emphases added). Faith and humility, the two poles of the deliberative tension characterizing the Enlightenment’s philosophy of religion (Cassirer 1951:160–82) manifest, through action, as individual-psychologized attitudes of confidence and skepticism. They find socialized expression respectively as the striving for superiority on the one hand and, on the other hand, social interest (Gemeinschaftsgefühl: see Adler 1964). Of the three “operations” of the “mind” concerning hierarchies, “[partial] inner rearrangement”


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involves 1) selecting, and it is a requisite preliminary to “fundamental restructuring,” which involves 2) abstracting and 3) communicating. That is the sense in which these two capacities, particularly the latter, are animated by novelty. 2. Goal-definition and goal-realization (in the teleonomic sense) are promoted primarily by “steering capacity” and secondarily by “depth of memory.” The latter is not just the “storage capacity” of memory “but particularly . . . the effectiveness” of “recall and recombination of data, and for the screening and identification” of their optimal combinations. Failures or loss of “steering capacity,” the primary one here, “may involve the overvaluation of structure over function” or “strong responses that come late [that] are characteristic of oversteering.” They are exacerbated if inner communication channels become more complicated, as this can lead to “loss of coordination between behavior and memory,” according to Deutsch (1963:222, 225, 226). Of the nine “operations” of the “mind” that he originally enumerated, the “depth of memory” capacity enabling goal definition and realization involves 4) storing and 5) subdividing; and it is a requisite preliminary to “steering capacity,” which involves 6) recalling and 7) recombining. That is the sense in which these two capacities, and particularly the latter, are animated by creativity. 3. Threat systems (i.e., for response to threat) are promoted primarily by “power” and secondarily by “intake channels.” The latter, which is the secondary capacity informing initiative, refer the application of “initiative to the widening of [the] range of intake of information” by way of a “mind [that] is [capable] of such creative learning” as to be “open . . . [to] more new kinds of information [through deployment of] its self-steering, abstracting, and combinatorial powers.” In play, therefore, is the “effectiveness of previously existing channels of information from the outside world, or the loss of entire channels, or the loss of the ability to rearrange such intake channels and to develop new ones.” Referring implicitly back to the first pair of learning capacities Deutsch esteems that the “combinatorial richness of possibilities for novelty may already be . . . vastest perhaps in a mind that is open, that is, applies initiative to the widening of its range of information from what we may still believe to be an infinite universe.” Referring implicitly the second pair of learning capacities, he adds that “the more capable a mind is of such creative learning, the more new kinds of information can be reached by its self-steering, abstracting, and combinatorial powers, the more properly it may considered inexhaustible” (Deutsch 1963:134, 222, 134, emphases added). Power, the primary capacity informing initiative, refers to “resources and facilities required to make the behavior of the system prevail over obstacles in its environment.” Deutsch suggests developing the concept “in connection with [the philosophical categories of] will and character” by which he means “the more or less stable inner program . . . of an individual or organization, . . . the extent to which they can continue to . . . impose extrapolations or projections of their inner structure upon the environment.” Power is, then, “in this narrow sense [somewhat like] . . . the ability to afford not to learn.” Deutsch also attempts to differentiate “gross power,” a system has of “acting out its internal program by imposing a given amount of changes upon the environment”


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from “net power,” which would be the difference between gross power and the chance “of another critical or relevant amount of changes occurring in the inner structure of the system” (Deutsch 1963:110, 110–11, 111). Of the nine “operations” of the “mind” that Deutsch originally enumerated, the “intake channels” capacity enabling threat systems involves 8) critically recognizing, and it is a requisite preliminary to “power,” which involves 9) reapplying. That is the sense in which these two capacities, and particularly the latter, are animated by creativity. The Baltic Assembly’s Institutional History Retold It is instructive to retell the brief history of the BA from the complex-scientific standpoint depicted in Table 1 and Figure 2. As an additional shorthand aid to the exposition, Table 3 recalls the three basic complex-scientific categories (emergence, autopoiesis, and coherence) in order to establish the correspondence among phases of IPI evolution (detailed in Table 1) and their corresponding epigenetic performance variables (related in Table 2 to organizational learning capacities). To begin with, it is helpful to recall that the BA could not formally become an IPI until independent states, subjects of international law, existed that were strong enough to underwrite its institutionalization in November 1991. This effectively signified the BA’s transition from phase 0 to 1 (pre-Congress to Congress) in Table 1. Table 3: Phases of Evolution of an IPI and Their Correspondence with Complex-scientific Categories

The epigenetic performance variable at issue in the transition from phase 1 to phase 2 (Congress to Assembly) is the establishment of hierarchies (from Table 3), manifested through the organization of communication and information. The two capacities necessary for this (from Table 2) were, primarily, fundamental restructuring and, secondarily, inner rearrangement. The foundation of the BSC was an attempt to create an environment that would permit the BA to develop both these capacities, but, as noted above, the BSC failed quickly. In Deutsch’s terms the BA, starting from late 1991 onward, attempted (partial) “inner rearrangement.” None of the BA’s activity was sufficient to reach a new stable equilibrium of organizational performance until a “fundamental rearrangement” of its internal structure, represented at a minimum by a permanent secretariat, could be achieved. Three years were required, from 1991 to 1994, for the BA to progress from phase one to phase two. During that whole time, the BA secretariat operated only on an ad hoc basis. Overcoming that obstacle to institutionalization was a prerequisite to any “fundamental restructuring.” Without it, there was little material from which to construct an institutional memory for which to develop any “depth of memory,”


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which for Deutsch is the secondary learning capacity requisite for the next, autopoietic phase of IPI evolution (Table 2). Here institutional memory does not refer to the oral tradition passed on by political leaders, even if they had remained in office throughout the whole period in question. Moreover, there were no such leaders whose activities were entirely, or even predominantly, dedicated to the BA so there could be no “institutional memory” in that sense. In general, the reminiscences of current or former individual members of any institution’s administrative elite could constitute some sort of memory for the organization, but it is not a commonly available or accessible or transparent sort of memory. In the case of the BA, even a permanent administrative elite was lacking. Institutional memory in the context employed here really refers to institutionalized memory, existing as organizational archives and departments of documentation and research along with the budgets and human resources to sustain them. Such administrative units, of which the creation and existence signify internal differentiation and organizational evolution, only become more necessary for efficient recall as the institution’s life becomes longer and longer. So long as there was no organized institutionalization of the BA, there could be no institutional(ized) memory. The BA’s institutional history also appears to validate Deutsch’s (1963:227) observation that in the absence of “depth of memory” to undergird the development of a steering capacity, the “only answer . . . seems to be inner rearrangement, partial or comprehensive” of memory, search, and recall in order to enhance recombination: i.e., falling back upon the learning capacities associated with hierarchies. From the mid-1990s through the early years of the last decade, the EU encouraged the three Baltic States to cooperate in order to prepare for accession. However, the BA lacked financial resources as well as expertise in designing subregional market integration. Through the late 1990s, the Baltic States engaged in much significant interparliamentary cooperation among themselves, as well as externally outside the region, without reference to the BA, ignoring it. The rationalization of communications inside the BA that was attempted during the years 2002–2007, including a streamlining of the BA committee structure and the coordination of the BA’s own work with that of the BCM, reinforced somewhat the BA’s chronically weak “steering capacity” and autopoiesis. Nevertheless, the BA remains unable to achieve real autopoiesis, because its steering capacity is still maimed by the recurring failure to be able to exploit any depth of memory. It was, and remains, stuck at Cutler’s level 2.5 (see Table 1), “rule-supervisory (advisory oversight of self).” Although it is able to accomplish what Klebes called an “active consultative role” vis-à-vis the BCM, it remains unable to translate this into Cutler’s level 2.7, “rule-supervisory (advisory oversight of other institutions),” because it can only make recommendations and cannot inspect or critically verify the activities of the BCM. Today the BA remains a forum mainly for the exchange of views. Its recommendations may serve as the basis for decisions by the BCM, but even these “decisions” remain nevertheless purely declarative in character. Any implementation of them depends upon the proposal and passage of legislation in the individual national parliament and its approval by the national political executive. The BA is therefore unable to penetrate up to, let alone through, level 3.0 (“deterrent oversight”). This is why the BA, even though it has throughout its short life


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engaged in “operational activities” (ostensible level 3.5) outside the Baltic transgovernmental and intergovernmental cooperation system, remains unable to institutionalize that cooperation as well. The lack of a steering capacity means in both a literal and metaphoric sense that the BA does not drive (through power, a requisite of the still further next phase of evolution, see Table 2) its own activity. The sociological and political fact is that there is no general institution that organizes Baltic cooperation. Despite reference to them together as the “Baltic Council,” there is only the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council of Ministers, plus an agreement between them that regulates their relations. The BA has recently been subsumed under and wholly overtaken by the wide-ranging, pragmatic, and policy-issue oriented eightmember Nordic-Baltic (“NB8”) cooperation structure. Measures of Organizational Evolution and the Future of IPIs One may therefore speak of a syndrome that afflicts the BA’s organizational evolution, wherein past failures imprint future difficulties (compare Binder et al. 1971; Etzioni 1963, esp. pp. 416–20; Grew 1978). A measurement strategy, for lack of a better term, for this aspect of IPI evolution may be formalized from the fact, that at each of the three given phase transitions in the evolutionary development of the organization, one Deutschian “capacity” (which he expresses as “loss” of such capacity) is principal and another is auxiliary. Such a “measurement strategy” may be transformed into a notational logic that allows the successes and failures of learning and organizational development to be compared not only across the different phases of epigenetic evolution but also across multiple IPIs as well as over time. In particular, such a formal notation would present a uniform method of coding that is systematic, consistent, and universal, yet adapted to the idiosyncratic, indeed path-dependent, development of any individual IPI, and at any phase of its development. The formal notation might follow the logic of institutional development, in which for an IPI to complete successfully the transition from Congress to Assembly, Assembly to Parliament, or from Parliament to Legislature, it must manifest both of the Deutschian capacities necessary at that level of transition (Table 2). We might suppose further, that it must develop the auxiliary capability first as a condition for the principal capability at any stage of transition; and also it must retain at least the principal capacity that was necessary during any previous transition. The mathematical expression of this principle is that the principal capacity at each level is coded as 2, the auxiliary capacity as 1. We might suppose that for each capability the values of the learning may be 0, 1 (when only the minor capacity proper to the phase transition is present), 2 (when the major capacity proper to the phase transition is present), or 3 [ = 2+1 ] (when both are present). The rule for success is that the major capacity must be in evidence; thus, a score of 0 or 1 is considered failure. For example, in order for the product to be 12, it is necessary to have 3×2×2 where the 3 and the first 2 produce the second 2, giving the product 12 (as illustrated in the third bullet-point below). A score of 9 cannot represent success at the spill-over level, because the only way of getting 9 are 3×1×3 and 3×3×1, both of which represent failure, because one of the scores is neither 2 nor 3. Additionally a score of 8 at the spill-over level is postulated to be failure, because we assert the necessity to have one of the secondary learning capacities as well as both


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primary learning capabilities, in order to produce the possibility of successful performance in respect of the third set of capabilities (transition from Parliament to Legislature). All of which is to say, that successful performance permitting transition to the next phase is possible: • in the transition from phase 1 to phase 2 only with a score of 3 [ = (2+1) ]; • in the transition from phase 2 to phase 3 only with a score of 6 [ = (2+1) × (2+0) ] or 9 [ = (2+1) × (2+1) ]; • in the transition from phase 3 to phase 4 only with a score of 12 [ = (2+1) × (2+0) × (2+0) ], 18 [ = (2+1) × (2+1) × (2+0) or (2+1) × (2+0) × (2+1) ], or 27 [ = (2+1) × (2+1) × (2+1) ]. For convenience, the mapping of the products given in Table 4 is expressed by a lowercase Greek letter, in order to remind that this is an ordinal and not an interval measure. This way of proceeding also permits the “sequencing” of an IPIs epigenetic development in a more abstract way. Institutional history may be expressed formally by a combination of symbols representing the evolution over time, with other notation interpolated to signify how much time has passed. Such a formalized expression of an institutional history might allow easier comparison among IPIs at a slightly more abstract level that is nevertheless not too abstruse. Editorial constraints of length prevent this method, which is exploratory anyway, from being applied here to the BA, also lest it be supposed to be definitive. Table 4: Coding Scheme for Success or Failure in Epigenetic Development

The following, concluding remarks are nevertheless possible. In evaluating the development of an IPI, account must be taken of the fact of its having reached a certain phase of evolution through its own history, because its further possibilities depend upon the accretion of experience to that time. (The influence of successive accretions of experience upon future possibility is what differentiates “epigenesis” from mere “genesis.”) Where do the challenges come from? They may come from an internal developmental dynamic internal to the institution and/or from incoming demands imposed by the international environment. In this conception, the international system is nothing but the ecological carrier of innovations necessary for IPI survival that constrain how the IPI might respond to the other demands upon it. Analysis of the existence of historical IPIs (prior to 1991, for example) might take also into account a differentiation among international systems and particularly the constraints that they may place upon IPI evolution. It is natural to hypothesize that IPIs born under different international systems may exhibit different developmental syndromes, since different


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international environments may impose different tasks upon them and their members. The typical developmental syndromes of IPIs born since 1991 may well differ qualitatively from, although being typologically congruent with, that of IPIs those were born before 1991. It is natural to suppose, also, that demands upon IPIs by their members should differ across international systems, because the degree of relative autonomy of regional international systems varies with the overall structure of international politics. For example, in a densely networked international environment, life may impose the obligation that an IPI begin engaging in external relations before all of its internal functions are fully developed and institutionalized. The BA would be an example of this phenomenon (Compare Navarro 2010; Murzakulova 2012). If typical, it would suggest the counterintuitive conclusion that the nature of world society and politics in the current era actually tends to limit the general extension of powers and responsibilities of IPIs, even as their networked nature and greater connectedness encourage more liberally their creation. Yet, it is also possible this was a feature only of the post–Cold War transition, and the greater structural stability of the present international system will lead to a reversion to the older syndrome by new IPIs. For this and many other reasons, more theoretically driven comparative empirical research is to be desired. REFERENCES Adler, Alfred (1964) “On the Origin of the Striving for Superiority and Social Interest,” in Heinz L. Ansbacher and Rowena R. Ansbacher (eds.) Superiority and Social Interest: A Collection of Later Writings, 3rd rev. ed., New York: Viking Press. [Article first published in German in 1933.] Almond, Gabriel A. and G. Bingham Powell (1966) Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach, Boston: Little, Brown. Archer, Margaret S. (1995) Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Binder, Leonard et al. (1971) Crises and Sequences in Political Development, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Birkavs, Valdis and Søren Gade [rapporteurs] (2010) NB8 Wise Men Report, [Copenhagen and Riga]: [Foreign Ministry of Denmark and Foreign Ministry of Latvia]. Bull, Hedley (1977) The Anarchical Society, New York: Columbia University Press. Cassirer, Ernst (1951) The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, Princeton: Princeton University Press. [First published in German in 1932.] Cofelice, Andrea (2012) International Parliamentary Institutions: Some Preliminary Findings and Setting a Research Agenda, Working Paper W–2012/3, Brugge: UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies. Cox, Robert and Harold K. Jacobson (eds.) (1973) The Anatomy of Influence: Decision-making in International Organization, New Haven: Yale University Press. Cutler, Robert M. (2001) “The Emergence of International Parliamentary Institutions: New Networks of Influence in World Society,” in Gordon S. Smith and Daniel Wolfish (eds.) Who Is Afraid of the State? Canada in a World of Multiple Centres of Power, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Cutler, Robert M. and Alexander von Lingen (2003) “The European Parliament and European Security and Defence Policy,” European Security 12(2):1–20. Cutler, Robert M. (2006a) “The OSCE’s Parliamentary Diplomacy in Central Asia and the South Caucasus in Comparative Perspective,” Studia Diplomatica 59(2):79–93. Cutler, Robert M. (2006b) “The Paradox of Intentional Emergent Coherence: Organization and Decision in a Complex World,” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 91(4):9–27. Dekker, Aarts (2004). De Benelux als voorbeeld: Een onderzoek naar de voorbeeldwirking on de Baltic Assembly en de Visegrád Group, M.A. thesis in Public Administration. Rotterdam: Erasmus Universiteit.


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Deutsch, Karl W. (1963) The Nerves of Government: Models of Political Communication and Control, New York: Free Press of Glencoe. Easton, David (1953) The Political System, New York: Knopf. Easton, David (1965) A Systems Analysis of Political Life, New York: Wiley. Ellis, David (2010) “The Organizational Turn in International Organization Theory,” Journal of International Organizations Studies 1(1):11–28. Etzioni, Amitai (1963) “The Epigenesis of Political Communities at the International Level,” American Journal of Sociology 68(4):407–21. Geyer, Felix (1995) “The Challenge of Sociocybernetics,” Kybernetes 24(4):5–32. Grew, Raymond (1978) “The Crises and Their Sequences,” in Raymond Grew (ed.): Crises of Political Development in Europe and the United States, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hall, Brian K. (1999) Evolutionary Developmental Biology, 2nd ed., Alphen aan de Rijn: Kluwer. Hatt, Ken (2009) “Considering Complexity: Toward a Strategy for Non-linear Analysis,” Canadian Journal of Sociology 34(2):313–347. Holland, John (1966) Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity, New York: Perseus Books. Juarrero, Alicia (1999) Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System, Cambridge: MIT Press. Kapustans, Janis (1998) Cooperation among the Baltic States: Reality and Prospects, Riga: [NATO Research Fellowship Programme]. Kasack, Christiane (2005) “Interaction of inter-parliamentary with inter-governmental bodies: The example of the Baltic Sea Region,” in Andres Kasekamp (ed.) The Estonian Foreign Policy Yearbook 2005, Tallinn: Estonian Foreign Policy Institute. Keck, Margaret E. and Kathryn Sikkink (1998) Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. Kissling, Claudia (2011) The Legal and Political Status of International Parliamentary Institutions, Berlin: Committee for a Democratic U.N. Klebes, Heinrich (1988) “Les institutions parlementaires internationales,” Revue générale du droit international public 92(4):815–80. Klebes, Heinrich (1990) “The Development of International Parliamentary Institutions,” Constitutional and Parliamentary Information, No. 159:77–100. Luhmann, Niklas (1971) “Die Weltgesellschaft“ Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 57(1):1–35. Luhmann, Niklas (1984) Soziale Systeme: Grundriss einer allgemeine Theorie, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Luhmann, Niklas (1995) Social Systems (Writing Science), Stanford: Stanford University Press. [Translation of Luhmann, 1984.] Maruyama, Magoroh (1963) “The Second Cybernetics: Deviation-Amplifying Mutual Causal Processes,” American Scientist 5(2):164–79. Maturana, Humberto R. and Francisco J. Varela (1980) Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 42, Dordrecht-Boston-London: D. Riedel. Mayr, Ernst (2004) What Makes Biology Unique? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Moisio, Sami (2003) “Back to Baltoscandia? European Union and Geo-Conceptual Remaking of the European North,” Geopolitics 8(1):72–100. Navarro, Julien (2010) “The Creation and Transformation of Regional Parliamentary Assemblies: Lessons from the Pan-African Parliament,” Journal of Legislative Studies 16(2):195–214. Niiniluoto, Ilkka (1999) Critical Scientific Realism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Murzakulova, Azel’ Dzhaparkulovna (2012) Mezhparlamentskie instituty SNG: problemy ustoichivosti i integratsii na postsovetskom prostranstve [CIS Interparliamentary Institutions: Problems of Stability and Integration in Post-Soviet Space], Bishkek: Tsentr “Polis Azia.” Piaget, Jean (1968) Le structuralisme, Paris: Press Universitaires de France. Prigogine, Ilya and Peter Murray Allen (1982) “The Challenge of Complexity,” in W.C. Schieve and Peter Murray Allen (eds.) Self-Organization and Dissipative Structures: Applications in the Physical and Social Sciences, Austin: University of Texas Press.


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Ribulis, Aili (2006) “Baltic Parliamentary Cooperation between the Past into the Future,” in Andres Kasekamp (ed.) The Estonian Foreign Policy Yearbook 2006, Tallinn: Estonian Foreign Policy Institute. Rosen, Robert (1991) Life Itself: A Comprehensive Inquiry into the Nature, Origin, and Fabrication of Life, New York: Columbia University Press. Ryle, Gilbert (1949) The Concept of Mind, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Šabi– Zlatko (2008) “Building Democratic and Responsible Global Governance: The Role of International Parliamentary Institutions,” Parliamentary Affairs 61(2):255–71. Schermers, Henry G. and Niels M. Blokker (1995) International Institutional Law, 3rd rev. ed., LondonThe Hague-Boston: Kluwer. Smith, Kenwyn K. (1982) “Philosophical Problems in thinking about organizational change,” in Paul S. Goodman (ed.) Change in Organizations: New Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Practice, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Varela, Francisco J., Humberto R. Maturana and R. Uribe (1974) “Autopoiesis: The Organization of Living Systems, Its Characterization and a Model,” Biosystems 5(4):187–196. Wilden, Anthony (1980) System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange, 2nd ed., London: Tavistock. Zájedov, Iivi (2008) “Baltic Regional Co-operation,” Slovenská politologická revue 8:51–62.



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