Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Beyond institutional design: explaining the performance of international organizations

Lall, Ranjit ORCID: 0000-0003-1455-3506 (2017) Beyond institutional design: explaining the performance of international organizations. International Organization, 71 (2). 245 - 280. ISSN 0020-8183

[img] Text (Beyond Institutional Design: Explaining the Performance of International Organizations) - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (524kB)
Identification Number: 10.1017/S0020818317000066


International organizations (IOs) have long been a central focus of scholarship in international relations, yet we know remarkably little about their performance. This article offers an explanation for differences in the performance of IOs and tests it using the first quantitative data set on the topic. I argue that the primary obstacle to effective institutional performance is not deviant behavior by IO officials—as conventional “rogue-agency” analyses suggest—but the propensity of states to use IOs to promote narrow national interests rather than broader organizational objectives. IOs that enjoy policy autonomy vis-à-vis states will thus exhibit higher levels of performance. However, in the international context policy autonomy cannot be guaranteed by institutional design. Instead, it is a function of (1) the existence of (certain types of) institutionalized alliances between IOs and actors above and below the state; and (2) the technical complexity of IO activities. I provide empirical evidence for the argument by constructing and analyzing a cross-sectional data set on IO performance—based in part on a new wave of official government evaluations of IOs and in part on an original survey of IO staff—and conducting a comparative case study in the realm of global food security.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The IO Foundation
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2018 14:02
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2024 06:27

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics