Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Organizations are central to global governance

AngelSazCarranza1-570x398By Angel Saz Carranza.  As a complement to David Coen and Tom Pegram’s recent call for a renewed global governance research effort, I underscore the usefulness to include in such an effort the organization perspective. Global governance needs administrative and organization research.

Coen and Pegram correctly highlight the dire need to advance research on global governance by advancing inter-disciplinary and combining multiple methods.  They call for the integration of International Relations (IR)—for long the sole disciplinary approach used to study of global governance-, European Public Policy Studies (EPP), and International Law approaches. Their call for a new generation of global governance research is very timely.

The world as a whole has become by now the highest and uppermost governance level. This level was essentially built after WW2, a level in which 332 intergovernmental organizations (IOs)—i.e. formal organizations set up by more than two governments—play a central role alongside international treaties and private regulators. Now, despite the existence of these IOs, still many global public goods are not supplied adequately: sustainable climate, human security, cybersecurity or monetary policy governance. Somehow, these IOs are not delivering.

The overwhelming research on these organizations has come from international relations scholars, who have generally seen these organizations as arenas where international politics occur. EPP and IL have recently followed suit. Other scholars have also sparsely studied IOs: political scientists and game-theorists have looked at IO decision-making and incentive structures and institutional theorists have looked at IOs as global rule-makers.

Yet, these organizations have attracted practically no attention from organizational and administrative scholars. For example, while it has a lot to offer, the organization studies (OS) and public administration (PA) literature has so far ignored the international institutional setting. International organizations resemble in many cases public agencies, with certain rigidities and bureaucratic traits well known by PA (and some OS) scholars. Also, based on anecdotal evidence, IOs have been incorporating many management practices—in particular strategic and performance-management related—which national public agencies have been struggling with for some time now.

These organizations face issues of public purpose, values, legitimacy, organization fragmentation, authority, and accountability in a similar way to a (sub)national governmental administration. Indeed, public network management and public leadership seem quite transposable to IOs. (Unique to IOs, though, is the lack of a clear anchoring in sovereignty.)

While not explicitly calling for an organizational approach to global governance, Coen and Pegram’s idea of global public policy clearly covers “delivery”, “implementation”, and “operations” as they state themselves. The motivation of this short post is to underscore the importance of including the organizational vector in this new generation of research on global governance, making sure it does not falls through the cracks of political analysis, international relations, and law.

Governance seems a very appropriate venue to spearhead such a research stream: A journal explicitly focusing on public bureaucracies and executive branches, sponsored by the IPSA’s Structure and Organization of Government research committee, and combining public policy, international politics, and public administration.

Angel Saz Carranza is  a Professor of Strategy at the ESADE Business School and Director of the ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics.

Written by Governance

October 19, 2015 at 8:59 am


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