Institutional design and bureaucrats' impact on political control


Journal Article

Why do governmental institutions look as they do, and who controls them? International relations scholars often point to states. However, two-thirds of today's intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) were created not by states alone, but with participation by international bureaucrats working in preexisting IGOs. International bureaucrats' design activities can be modest or proactive. Meanwhile, their interests differ from states' interests: insulating their organizational family from state intervention facilitates international bureaucrats' pursuit of material security, legitimacy, and policy advancement. The more proactive the design activities of international bureaucrats, I argue, the more insulated the resulting institution will be from mechanisms of state control (e.g., financial monopolization or veto power). Statistical analyses of an original dataset support the prediction and are robust to alternative specifications as well as approaches to control for endogeneity. The implications - concerning institutional design, principal-agent relationships, bureaucratic autonomy, and democratic deficits - go far beyond international relations. Copyright © Southern Political Science Association 2012.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, T

Published Date

  • January 1, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 75 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 183 - 197

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-2508

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3816

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S0022381612000953

Citation Source

  • Scopus