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When are international organizations responsive to policy problems?

Lundgren, Magnus, Tallberg, Jonas, Sommerer, Thomas and Squatrito, Theresa ORCID: 0000-0002-6726-7629 (2023) When are international organizations responsive to policy problems? International Studies Quarterly, 67 (3). ISSN 1468-2478

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Identification Number: 10.1093/isq/sqad045


When are international organizations (IOs) responsive to the policy problems that motivated their establishment? While it is a conventional assumption that IOs exist to address transnational challenges, the question of whether and when IO policy-making is responsive to shifts in underlying problems has not been systematically explored. This study investigates the responsiveness of IOs from a large-n, comparative approach. Theoretically, we develop three alternative models of IO responsiveness, emphasizing severeness, dependence, and power differentials. Empirically, we focus on the domain of security, examining the responsiveness of eight multi-issue IOs to armed conflict between 1980 and 2015, using a novel and expansive dataset on IO policy decisions. Our findings suggest, first, that IOs are responsive to security problems and, second, that responsiveness is not primarily driven by dependence or power differentials but by problem severity. An in-depth study of the responsiveness of the UN Security Council using more granular data confirms these findings. As the first comparative study of whether and when IO policy adapts to problem severity, the article has implications for debates about IO responsiveness, performance, and legitimacy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2023 13:24
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2024 20:00

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