Guilt by association: The link between states' influence and the legitimacy of intergovernmental organizations


Journal Article

Unfavorable views toward a particular state will result in skepticism about the legitimacy of IGOs in which that state possesses influence. The more extensive the avenues of influence, the stronger this "guilt by association." The rationale is two-fold. First, a state that possesses institutionalized influence (e. g., a veto) within an intergovernmental organization faces substantial difficulties in credibly committing to non-interference with organizational activities. Second, even if a state somehow could commit to abstention from overt interference, it may exert covert ideational influence if it already has embedded its values into an IGO. Elites and laypeople alike recognize the avenues of influence that fuel guilt-by-association. With statistical analyses of public opinion data from 35,397 people in 23 countries, I provide the first systematic evidence that guilt-by-association exists: for the United States, Russia, Japan, and Pakistan, vis-à-vis the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. The evidence is robust to numerous alternative specifications. The findings contribute to international relations scholarship by enhancing our understanding of threats to IGO legitimacy and by providing concrete evidence for a mechanism by which antipathy toward powerful states matters in the international realm. © 2010 Springer Science + Business Media, LLC.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, T

Published Date

  • January 1, 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 57 - 84

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1559-7431

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11558-010-9088-z

Citation Source

  • Scopus