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Chapter 1
Who Governs the Globe?1
Deborah Avant, Martha Finnemore, and Susan K. Sell

Academics and policy makers speak frequently about global governance but do so in the passive
voice. We treat governance as structure or process. Global governance is the management of
global processes in the absence of global government or collective efforts to identify,
understand, or address worldwide problems that go beyond the capacity of individual
governments to solve.2 Global governance is something that happens; no one, apparently,
actually does it. We rarely talk about global governors and have not made the agents in this
process central to our analysis.
To the extent that international relations (IR) scholars do think about whom global governors
might be, they think about states. States, after all, are obvious recognized political authorities.
Their job is to govern. And they do govern, or try to, in many areas of global activity. They sign
inter-state treaties, create international law, and promulgate wide-ranging rules to initiate,
regulate, and govern activity in desired ways.
States are by no means alone in this endeavor, however. The global policy arena is filled with a
wide variety of actors international organizations, corporations, professional associations,
advocacy groups, and the like seeking to govern activity in issue areas they care about. They
want new rules (or different rules) to solve problems, change outcomes, and transform
international life. International relations scholars are poorly equipped to understand this
kaleidoscope of activity by such a wide range of agents, though, because our theories are mostly
theories about states. Without theories about the powers, interests, and behavioral proclivities of
other actors, we do not have conceptual equipment with which to understand the kinds of effects
they might create in the world.
Consequently, in this project we explore the agents of global governancewhat we call global
governors. For purposes of this inquiry, global governors are actors who exercise power across
borders with some degree of legitimacy and continuity for purposes of affecting policy in an issue
area. Governors thus: create issues, set agendas, establish and implement rules or programs,
and evaluate and/or adjudicate outcomes. Rather than assuming that these governors are states,
we investigate. Who actually performs the tasks involved in governing? This leads us to ask
additional questions. Where do global governors come from? Who put them in charge (and
why)? How do they accomplish their goals? What effects do their actions produce?
Our investigations suggest that twenty-first century governors are a varied lot. Some, like the
flagship intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)the World Bank, the IMF, the UN come to
their governing tasks intentionally and willingly (even eagerly); others, like corporations, back
into governance roles and may even drag their feet. Who defers to governors or puts them in
charge also varies and is based on a range of different sources of authority. Expertise propels

Avant, Deborah, Finnemore, Martha and Sell, Susan K. (Eds). Who Governs the Globe? Cambridge
University Press, 2010.
Adil Najam get citation and Ramesh Thakur and Thomas G. Weiss, The UN and Global Governance: an
idea and its prospects. manuscript. See http://www.unhistory.org/publications/globalgov.html

professional associations to the fore, while advocacy organizations appeal to principles for their
authority, and corporations sometimes gain authority because others perceive them as capable of
achieving results. Some governors produce effects that approximate their intentions; others do
not come close. The one thing they have in common is that none of them governs alone. Almost
all governing in contemporary global politics seems to be the result of governor interactions of
various kinds. Governors divide labor, delegate, compete and cooperate with one another in
many ways to produce the outcomes we observe.
Our focus on governors of diverse kinds puts us in a league with a growing number of scholars
who question the state-centrism of our field. Certainly states are important in the governance of
global life, but they are only one of a variety of types of actors exercising power and making or
implementing the rules that govern global interactions. Corporations, NGOs, IGOs, professional
societies, international jurists, transnational networks, and various hybrid types of actors all work
hard to shape accepted and legitimate rules and promulgate new ones to their liking. We seek to
theorize better the influence and agendas of these diverse governing agents. Rather than seeing
like states our contributors see like professional associations, advocacy groups, and multinational corporations, so as to theorize about the political logics informing these different global
governors, and the implications of this for global governance.3
We argue that the key to understanding the political logic of these different governors can be
found in two relationships. The first is the relationship between the governor and the governed.
Why the governed defer tells us a lot about how the governor will behave and when she will gain
or lose authority. The second is the relationship among different governors. Governors rarely act
alone; they cooperate, compete, and conflict in a variety of structured ways. Both relationships,
with the governed and with other governors, are dynamic, as our case studies show clearly. To
explore these relationships, our analysis below identifies typologies of the various sources of
authority we find among global governors and the different relationships they have with one
another. The interaction between these two variables, we contend, promises to shape a rich
research agenda on global governors. The empirical chapters that follow illustrate different
patterns in these relationships.
We begin this chapter by discussing reasons to approach global governance from the perspective
of agents. There are practical policy reasons why a focus on agents, particularly diverse types of
agents, is essential for understanding contemporary politics. Changes in the world economy, in
politics, and in the international social fabric in recent years have diffused governance tasks and
involved more, and more types of, actors in governing. We simply cannot understand many
contemporary political issues without this broader view. Focusing on agents also encourages us
to avoid questionable assumptions common in research on global governance particularly
functionalism and instrumentalism and suggests a different normative framework.
The next section elaborates our conceptual tools for understanding the relationship of authority
between governors and governed as well as the relations among various governors. We identify
five bases from which governors draw authority and engender deference: institutional, delegated,
expert, moral, and efficacious. We then break down governance into several different tasks so
as to provide the basis through which to outline relationship between governors in accomplishing
these tasks. Four general patterns are apparent in the relations among governors: delegation,
contracting, networks, and hierarchy.

James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

Our final substantive section addresses the normative issues that the focus on relationships raises.
The complex, often baroque and opaque, relations both among governing authorities and with
various amorphous sets of governed raise questions about accountability and legitimacy in
world politics and suggest different approaches to answering these questions. We conclude the
chapter with an overview of the rich empirical studies that illustrate our claims in the remainder
of the volume.
Bringing agents back into global governance: Real world change, faulty assumptions, and
conceptual shifts
Assumptions that the global political system was constituted by unitary, instrumental states and
structured by the distribution of power among them made an analysts life easy. It focused
attention by stripping away the many pesky and distracting sideshows on the world scene. It
made the very messy world legible and comprehensible to both scholars and policymakers,
facilitating grand theory for the former and statecraft for the latter.4 The risk, of course, for both
analysts and policymakers is that simplification gets things wrong and is thus a poor guide to
Our contention is that the simplifying assumptions of IR theoryunitary, asocial, instrumental
states constrained only by the distribution of state powerstrip away much of what is essential
for understanding contemporary politics. Perhaps it told us more in the 1980s, when these
theories were developed, but real-world changes over the last quarter century have empowered
new actors in new ways, undermining the utility of these assumptions. Four such changes have
been particularly influential: globalization; the privatization/deregulation revolution; new
technologies; and the end of the Cold War.
Real world changes. Globalization, or the shift in the spatial reach of social action and
organization toward the interregional, intercontinental or global scale, has undermined the
coincidence between social action and state borders. 5 Globalization is commonly associated with
the global economy but its reach extends beyond economic issues. Environmental issues,
particularly problems such as global warming, join the fates of people across the globe.6 Ideas
about human rights became platforms for social connections with people across the globe as well
as military intervention to protect them.7 Even security became identified with humanity as
analysts, activists and states developed and implemented conceptions of human security.8 The
globalization of financial markets and concurrent increase in capital mobility, however, has had
some of the most dramatic impacts on state capacity by vastly undermining the ability of states to
set their own macroeconomic policy. States gradually abandoned capital controls, and
surrendered their ability to control the flow of capital in and out of their territories. That meant
that they had sacrificed monetary autonomy in favor of capital mobility and market-driven
(flexible) foreign exchange rates. Losing control of the money supply meant that they could no
longer engage in the kind of Keynesian management in which you could expand (print more
money) when the economy was in recession or contract the money supply when the economy

See James Scott, Seeing like a state: how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed
(New Haven: Yale University Press) 1998, esp. his Introduction pp.1-8.
David Held and Anthony McGrew, The Great Globalization Debate, in The Globalization Reader
(Polity), p. 3.
Jessica Tuchman Mathews, Redefining Security, Foreign Affairs Vol. 68, No. 2 (spring 1989): 162-177.
Martha Finnemore, The Purpose of Intervention (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003).
Roland Paris, Human Security: A Paradigm Shift or Hot Air? International Security 26,2 (fall

threatened to overheat into inflation.9 Each of these facets of globalization has diminished state
control. Equally important, each has empowered other actorsNGOs, IGOs, transnational
groups of scientists, hedge funds and economists-- to govern in these issue areas.
The Thatcher and Reagan-led privatization and deregulation revolution has only compounded
this transfer of power to actors other than states. Starting in the 1980s, states, led by the most
powerful, began to systematically cut economic actors free from state control in hopes of
improving economic performance. State-owned enterprises were sold to private actors, state
functions were contracted to private actors and private actors were increasingly encouraged to
finance policies such as education, municipal services, and even security that had once been the
exclusive responsibility of states. States have delegated many functions of government to the
private sector. This faith in the wisdom of markets also led states to loosen regulation of
economic activity and increasingly other social activity as well. While we can debate the wisdom
of such policy and its impact on the economic growth of a variety of individual states, there is
little doubt that it has increased the role of non-state actors across the board: in economic, social,
and even security realms.10 Though global economic growth has exploded in the past 25 years,
states ability to control or regulate it has diminished, while non-state actors efforts to shape or
tame it have increased.
Many elements of globalization were made possible by new technologies which eased
communications, population flows, and the interchange of ideas. Information technologies such
as the internet and cell phones, global media, and the ease of air travel have often had mixed
effects, particularly on state capacity relative to that of other global actors. The same technology
that eased communication allowing corporations in the US to outsource computer support to India
(challenging the ability of the US government to affect its labor market) also allowed
communication among al Qaeda operatives. Cell phones are both essential tools of global
business and vehicles for popular dissent in places like the Philippines and Burma. New
technologies have also enhanced the capacities of states. They allow the creation of ever more
sophisticated communications, weapons systems, and infrastructure support, but each innovation
also brings with it new vulnerabilities that can be exploited by those with technological expertise.
Finally, the end of the Cold War further fueled these changes. The halt of major conflict between
the United States and the Soviet Union loosened the restraints on international activity imposed
by the superpower deadlock. In a wide variety of social, political, economic, and security realms,
activists and organizations began to push for change. The way the Cold War ended, with the
triumph of the US and the liberal model, bolstered the credence of the privatization and
deregulation ideas prominent in the US and emboldened many (generally US-supported)
international organizations to drop Cold War-style impartiality and push hard for liberal,
capitalist change. The resulting expansion of global markets and democracy has been dramatic.
At the same time this wave of change empowered a variety of non-state actors to press hard for
increased human rights protection, to work to restrict the spread of conflict, and to promote
attention to issues of global concern. It also inspired others to empower themselves to counter
some of these activities. As Clifford Bob discusses, the international efforts to restrict the flow of
small arms caused gun rights groups to mobilize transnationally to resist these restrictions. More

Barry Eichengreen, 1996. Globalizing Capital: a History of the International Monetary System
(Princeton: Princeton University Press).
But see Linda Weiss, The Myth of the Powerless State (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998) and
Daniel Drezner, All Politics is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2007).

deadly has been the rise of networks such as Al Qaeda to resist what they claim to be the
imposition of western cultural and economic practices on the Islamic world.
The result of these four changes has been that the state-centric, structural and/or functional
theoretical frameworks of the Cold War era capture rather little of the actual governance that goes
on in the world today. Only a fraction of global governance activity involves state representatives
negotiating only with each other about ways to make commitments credible or ways to escape
prisoners dilemmas. Indeed, as these trends toward globalization, deregulation, privatization,
and technological change accelerate, prevailing theories explain less and less. Large scale
violence is unleashed not only by states but by terrorist and criminal networks. When the US
goes to war almost half its force is made up of private security companies that recruit from all
over the world even from states who oppose the war. Not only is governance done by many
more actors than states, but the kinds of activities they undertake are much more diverse than the
stylized games IR scholars usually study. Rather than worrying about credible commitments
that others will not trust or believe that actors will follow through with promisesactors may
worry about the conversethat their actions will be taken as precedents and promises when none
are intended. Prisoners dilemmas (PDs) may get solved, not by creating a regime among states11
but by walking away from the game and choosing to work with different players. Climate change
negotiations, arguably (but not obviously) a PD, have been stalled among states with the result
that the game has simply broken up. Small groups of states (i.e. European ones) are acting to
curb emissions, as are sub-state actors such as California (in adopting stricter-than-US national
emissions standards), even when this is not rational since they cannot fix the problem alone.
Faulty Assumptions. Attention to the agents who carry out global governance also casts new light
on some common, often unconscious, assumptions that permeate thinking about global
governance in the academic and the policy world; we contend that these assumptions impede
rather than enhance understanding. One assumption is functionalist: governance will arise in
response to collective needs and supply public goods.12 Analysts often write as though the
existence of global problems will, by itself, through some unspecified mechanism, give rise to
governance arrangements to solve them. Indeed, functionalism of this type is often built into
definitions of governance. Governanceembraces governmental institutions, but it also
subsumes informal, non-governmental mechanisms whereby those persons and organizations
within its purview move ahead, satisfy their needs, and fulfill their wants.13 Similarly, much of
the literature on global governance equates it, implicitly or explicitly, with the provision of global
public goods. Practitioners complain, however, that governance is often not supplied on many
global issues and that governance outcomes are frequently disconnected from both the public and
the good. Complaints about global inaction on climate change and lack of access to HIV/AIDS
medicines are but two prominent examples. As debates about how to best solve each of these
problems demonstrate, inaction often has diverse causes; disagreement may be over which action
provides the best solution, but it may also be over the nature of the problem or whether there is
a problem at all. Rather than assuming that governance arrangements are the most efficient or
effective, our contributors attend to paths not taken and choices not made by agents in their

Stephen D. Krasner, International Regimes Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983.
Robert O. Keohane, The demand for international regimes in Stephen D. Krasner, ed., International
Regimes. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983, 141-171. James Rosenau and E. Czempiel, Governance
without Government: Order and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
James Rosenau, Governance, order, and change in world politics. In Rosenau and Ernst-Otto
Czempiel, eds., Governance without Government: order and change in world politics. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1992, p.4.

Often, too, analysts assume (or impute) an instrumental logic of action to those involved in
governing. International relations scholars overwhelmingly have analyzed governance as a
product of strategic choices and instrumental means-ends calculations.14 If choices do not
produce desired outcomes, in this perspective, it is either because of countervailing instrumental
action by others or because of environmental constraints. While instrumental action looms large
in much governance politics, it is not the only driver of behavior and there are dangers in
ascribing too much explanatory power to it. Means-ends rationality is often heavily bounded
such that outcomes bear limited resemblance to Pareto improvement.15 As much recent
scholarship has demonstrated, action may be driven by powerful social norms of legitimate or
appropriate behavior which interact with instrumental action in complex ways. 16 Rather than
reifying a single logic of behavior, then, we explore the ways in which these logics can and do
intertwine. Similarly, the context or environment for action may be more than constraining.
Social context may be generative and constitutive, creating new actors or new preferences.
By examining global governance as something that is not solely the result of instrumental action,
environmental constraints, or functional demands, many of our chapters highlight unintended
consequences, indeterminacy, and path dependence in governance processes. While agents may
be strategic and environmental pressures may be significant, governance results from interactions
between environmental demands and locally adaptive agents who may act according to a variety
of behavioral logics. Rather than unproblematic movement toward a unique equilibrium,
governance often unfolds in inefficient histories.17 Rules and institutions established at one
time may be locally stable and resistant to change even when dysfunctional from a larger
environmental perspective. Governors and their environments, both international and local, also
may co-evolve as their interaction changes actors values, identities, and preferences. Change
may or may not be consistent with the preferences of actors who undertake it. We do not assume
that change is obvious, inevitable, or, once in place, stable. Unintended consequences loom large
in much of history, including that of global governance.18
Perhaps the most powerful, or at least the most pervasive, assumptions surrounding global
governance are normative. Global governance is widely assumed to be a good thing. When we
speak of it, we link it to activities with decidedly positive aura-- cooperation, problem-solving,
providing public goods. These are all things we like; indeed, they are all things it is hard to
oppose. Linking global governance to these activities disposes us to think of any governance as
good in and of itself. Often this bias, too, is built into the very definition of the term. Consider,
for example, one of the most widely circulated and accepted definitions, that of the Commission
on Global Governance. The Commission defines global governance as the sum of the many
ways individuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs. It is a
continuing process through which conflicting or diverse interests may be accommodated and

David Lake and Robert Powell, Strategic Choice and International Relations. Princeton: Princeton
University Press 1999. Barbara Koremenos et. al. The Rational Design of International Institutions
International Organization 55,4 (Autumn 2001)
James March and Herbert Simon, Organizations, New York: Wiley, 1958, esp. ch6; Herbert A. Simon,
Rational Decisionmaking in Business Organizations, American Economic Review Sept 1979, 493-513;
James G. March, A Primer on Decision-making. New York: The Free Press, 1994; James G. March, The
Pursuit of Organizational Intelligence Boston: Basil Blackwell, 1999.
James G. March and Johan P. Olsen, The Institutional Dynamics of International Political Orders
International Organization 52, 4(1998):943-969.
See March and Olsen 1998; Gutner, and Cooley this volume.
James G. March and Johan P. Olsen, The Institutional Dynamics of International Political Orders
International Organization 52, 4 (Autumn 1998):943-69.

cooperative action may be taken.19 Governance here is equated with cooperative action but
any political observer knows that governance is not always cooperative nor are diverse interests
always accommodated. Indeed, diverse interests may lead to competition, even conflict, within
governing arrangements. Power, in its various forms, may make cooperative action hard to
distinguish from exploitation or domination. Investigating the diverse actors who govern helps
foreground some of these normative issues by alerting us to the varied normative agendas
governors might bring to their work. Jettisoning functionalism and instrumentalism encourages
us to explore some of the troubling, if sometimes unintended, consequences of governance.20
Moving beyond these assumptions to study varied actors requires new ways of thinking about
global politics and global governance. Grand theory is not our goal. Indeed, some of our
contributors would probably join James Scott in his suspicion of such theories. What we can
offer, though, is some orienting concepts that both set the scholars in this volume apart from some
of the older work on global governance and build bridges to work on non-state governors
elsewhere in the field. Diverse work on transnational activists, corporations, private authority,
and international organizations that inform our authors all shares our interest in agents other than
states but these literatures rarely talk to each other and commonalities among them are
infrequently explored.
Conceptual shifts. The first conceptual task in thinking about global governors is to clarify what
we mean by governance and governors. Not all actors who participate in global politics are
governors. Indeed, some of our chapters describe failed attempts to govern. To repeat our
definition, global governors are actors who exercise power across borders with some degree of
legitimacy and continuity, for purposes of affecting policy in an issue area.21 Thus governance,
in our view, is more than simple coercion. Scholars have been preoccupied for more than two
decades with enforcement of global rules and governing arrangements. Seen through a lens of
anarchy and real politick enforcement of rules is a continuing challenge, and states, the actors
with legitimate coercive powers, must be central to any governance analysis.22 Rule enforcement
is only one aspect of governing, though, and coercion is only one tool for enforcement. What is
striking about the breadth and depth of current governance arrangements in the world is that
many, probably most, of these are not obviously or explicitly backed by force. Governors may
have coercive powers and may use them at times, but more often governors are accepted in some
fashion by those whom they govern.


Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighborhood (New York: Oxford University Press,
1995), 2.
Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall make a related critique of extant definitions in Power in
International Politics International Organization 59(2005): 39-75 at 57.
There are a great many definitions of global governance. In addition to those already cited see Robert
O. Keohane, Global Governance and Democratic Accountability in David Held and Mathias KoenigArchibugi, eds., Taming Globalization: Frontiers of Governance. London: Polity Press, 2003, 130-59.
Also available at:
http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/LSEPublicLecturesAndEvents/pdf/20020701t1531t001.pdf. Definition is
at page 3.
The very large literature on cooperation under anarchy and international regimes exemplify this
orientation. See for example Lloyd Gruber, Ruling the World: Power Politics and the Rise of
Supranational Institutions, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000; Kenneth Oye, Cooperation Under
Anarchy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986); Lisa Martin, Coercive Cooperation: Explaining
Multilateral Economic Sanctions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994);); Arthur Stein, Why
Nations Cooperate: Circumstance and Choice in International Relations (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,

Governance requires more than big sticks; it also requires leadership and creativity. Put in social
science jargon, governance is not simply the result of structural constraints; it is also the result of
generative agents. It is transformational and innovative rather than simply prohibitive.23
Governance involves the creation of new issues, new interests, and new modes of action by
creative agents. Governors can gain acceptance from those they seek to lead by offering
attractive new ideas, formulating new strategies, and persuading people of the importance of new
social goals. While states may have advantages in coercion, they have no monopoly on these
other aspects of governance. Leadership and creativity have many sources. Understanding
governance as more than just rule-enforcement (or the provision of order)24 thus requires
consideration of more kinds of governors and of how they do their work.
Understanding governance in this transformational way also demands that we expand our
understanding of power. Power, in this view, cannot be simply a constraint nor is it simply a
structure. It is also a resource and a tool that governors use to lead, dispute, and shame, coerce,
cajole and persuade. The view of power as structural constraint runs deep in governance
analysis. In the older strand of neo theorizing (neorealist, neoliberal), the distribution of
material power constituted the international structure which determined political outcomes
through constraint. Power was constraint and structure only; creative deployment of power by
agents, what might commonly be called statecraft, was not explained by these theories.25 Even
more recent and far more nuanced views of powers role in governance, such as Barnett and
Duvalls, have a strong structural cast and leave in shadow the generative or productive power of
agents which we focus upon here.26 In Barnett and Duvalls taxonomy, interaction among agents
is compulsory power; its hallmark is constraint and coercion. Productive power, in their
view, involves diffuse social relations rather than actions by specific agents. Certainly
compulsion looms large in politics, as do institutional and structural forces. We do not deny the
productive power of diffuse social relations. Our interest lies equally, though, in the ways
specific agents use power to induce, persuade, and create.
Clearly, one must conceptualize these governors. Our focus in this project is on governors
agency, but many of our governors, like other collective actors in political life, have a
multifaceted, even chameleon-like character. Transnational advocacy groups, like those that Bob
and Carpenter study, are agents who push causes. Yet they are also forums in which smaller
units--individuals or sub-groups--brainstorm, argue, bargain, strategize, and develop consensus.
They are, in a sense, both agent and structure, sometimes simultaneously. This is not simply an
issue of mutual constitution, although mutual constitution is certainly taking place within these
groups. It is also a conceptual problem, but one social science deals with frequently. Nationstates are both agents and structures in a similar way. The US government is an actor (or agent)
in some analyses but may become a structure within which bureaucratic agencies, interest groups,
Congress, and courts all struggle in other analyses.27 Scholars might find it useful to impute
coherence to governors for some purposes, and to investigate coherence as an outcome of
contestation for others, depending on the questions they are asking. One may worry about this as
a challenge to analytic clarity, but may also treat it as an opportunity. It permits one more fully to

See McNamara, this volume.

See James N. Rosenau, Governance, order, and change in world politics in Rosenau and Czempiel,
Governance without Government, p.4-5.
Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979; Robert O.
Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1984.
Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall, Power in Global Governance in Power in Global Governance
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005, 1-32.
Martin Hollis and Stephen Smith, Explaining and Understanding IInternational Relations 1991.

explore some of the ways in which agency interacts with structures., both inside our governors
and outside.
Finally, one might wonder how this very broad vision of global governance and governors
diverse agents doing diverse thingsdiffers from models of domestic politics, perhaps pluralism
elevated to the global level. The usual reason to treat the global realm differently from the
domestic one, in theoretical terms, is the absence of a world government to enforce rules and
laws. With no one to enforce rules or laws, models of domestic politics should be hard to apply
at the international level and, yet, coercive powers have enjoyed a privileged place in IR theory.
By focusing on non-coercive governing powers, our perspective draws attention to political
processes that may operate in both domestic and international realms. Professionals deploy
expertise in similar ways in both contexts. Advocates use similar tools in both as well. So do
firms. Recognizing such similarities is useful. It allows us to learn from colleagues researching
similar political processes in more local contexts.
Rather than assuming that global governance is radically different from domestic or local
governance, we investigate the dimensions on which they differ or are similar, and reasons for
this variation. Unchecked coercion and lack of rule enforcement are certainly two possible
differences but there are others. Institutional fluidity and lack of one unifying hierarchy may
matter as well. Domestically, a stable nation state provides a relatively hierarchical and clear
organizational structure in which various actors might set agendas and make or implement rules.
When conflicts arise, there are arbitration and enforcement mechanisms in the form of courts and
administrative agencies. Global governors operate in much more horizontal and ambiguous
institutional contexts. Often, it is not at all clear who has authority to govern on an issue or what
set of institutions is authoritative or even relevant. This potentially has large effects which have
not been systematically theorized.28 One possible effect might be to facilitate and encourage the
kind of creative and generative governing activity that interests us. More institutional fluidity
might create more opportunities for diverse actors to shop for forums, shop for governors, and
create new governing structures than would be possible in a more hierarchical context where
laws, rules, and governing procedures are more clearly specified. Institutional fluidity might also
change the way that governors strategize, build relations with other governors, and focus scarce
In rethinking who governs and how, we build on recent research by scholars on such diverse nonstate actors such as private firms, NGOs, intergovernmental or supranational organizations, and
hybrid public-private partnerships. Keck and Sikkink were the first to point out the impact that
transnational advocacy groups could have on national and international policy. They

Important contributions towards understanding this complexity include: Hedley Bull, The Anarchical
Society (London: Macmillan, 1977): 254-55. Philip Cerny, Globalization and the Changing Logic of
Collective Action International Organization 49:4 (1995: 595-625; Wolfgang Reinicke Global Public
Policy: Governing without Government? (Washington: Brookings Institution, 1989); Stephen Kobrin, The
Architecture of Globalization: State Sovereignty in a Networked Economy in John Dunning, ed.
Governments, Globalization and International Business (Oxford Online Publishing, July 1999). Recent
debates over the efficacy of forum-shifting in international negotiation and international law are moving
this research agenda forward. For a positive view of the possibilities of forum-shifting, see Lawrence
Helfer, Regime-Shifting: the TRIPS Agreement and New Dynamics of International Intellectual Property
Lawmaking 29 Yale Journal of International Law 26-45 (2004). Helfer emphasizes opportunities provided
by a multiplicity of forums. For a more skeptical view, see Ahmed Latif, Developing Country
Coordination in International Standard-Setting Trade-Related Agenda, Development, and Equity Working
Paper 24, South Centre (June 2005), available at www.southcentre.org. Latif suggests that a multiplicity of
governors and forums raises transaction costs and thereby disadvantages those with fewer resources.

hypothesized that these actors, because they were motivated by values, operated differently than
strategic theories might suggest and thus required a different mode of theorizing. Their work has
inspired much scholarship building on and critiquing their conception.29 A. Claire Cutler,
Virginia Haufler, and Tony Porters work was also path-breaking and pointed out that in some
cases corporate actors developed private authority (more than simply power) over particular
issues.30 Also, while many have examined international organizations as agents of states, Ernst
Haas pioneered the study of IOs as actors in their own right.31 The recent study by Barnett and
Finnemore also treats them as autonomous actors and begins to theorize about the sources of their
authority. Others have adopted similar stances, examining agency in a variety of different
international organizations.32 Finally, a set of scholars has begun to examine the ways in which
states themselves have begun to change in the current global context. Edgar Grande and Louis
Pauly, along with their colleagues, have investigated the way sovereignty, itself, is being
transformed in its most basic dimensionsterritoriality, functionality, legitimacy.33
The Nature of Authority: Who put you in charge?34
To incorporate the array of actors and activities involved in governing into the way we think
about global governance, we propose a framework that hinges on a common understanding of the
sources of authority these actors can possess. If international organizations, transnational
advocacy groups, and corporations govern, who put them in charge? Why does anyone pay
attention to them? Understanding why actors are authorities, able to govern, allows us to
understand better their behaviors, their relationships, one to another, and their impacts.
A global governors power flows from her authority rather than from simple coercion. Certainly
coercion can create behavior change and be effective in establishing some kinds of rules in some
situations. In most aspects of world politics, however, no single actor has the power to dictate
rules and coerce compliance. The existence of rule-governed behavior in the absence of coercion


Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International
Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998); Cooley, Alexander and James Ron, The NGO Scramble:
Organizational Insecurity and the Political Economy of Transnational Action, International Security, Vol.
27, No. 1 (summer 2002), 5-39; Deborah Avant, Conserving Nature in the State of Nature: the Politics of
INGO Implementation, Review of International Studies, (July 2004); Susan Sell and Aseem Prakash,
Using Ideas Strategically: The Contest between Business and NGO Networks in Intellectual Property
Rights , International Studies Quarterly 48:1 (2004): 143-175.
A. Claire Cutler, Virginia Haufler and Tony Porter, eds., Private Authority in International Affairs
(Albany: SUNY Press, 1999).
Ernst B. Haas, Beyond the Nation State: Functionalism and Internationalism (Palo Alto: Stanford
University Press, 1964); Haas, When Knowledge is Power: Three Models of Change in International
Organizations (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); Wayne Sandholtz, High-Tech Europe: the
Politics of International Cooperation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
Barnett and Finnemore 2004; Catherine Weaver, Hypocrisy Trap: The World Bank and Poverty Reform.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming; Ngaire Woods, The Globalizers: The IMF, the World
Bank, and their borrowers. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006; Ian Johnstone, The Role of the
UN Secretary-General: The Power of Persuasion Based on Law Global Governance 9(2003)441-58; and
The Power of Interpretive Communities in Barnett and Duvall, Power and Global Governance. New
York: Cambridge University Press, 185-204.
Edgar Grande and Louis W. Pauly, eds., Complex Sovereignty: reconstituting political authority in the
twenty-first century. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
The following discussion draws on Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore, Rules for the World chapter


is a theoretical puzzle within most IR frameworks and is one reason that global governance
interests us.35
We define authority as the ability to induce deference in others.36 Authority is thus a social
relationship, not a commodity; it does not exist in a vacuum. Authority is created by the
recognition, (even if only tacit or informal), of others. Deference to the judgments of an authority
might take a variety of forms. Authority might cause actors to subordinate their own conscious
preferences to the directives of the authority and thus, in Robert Dahls sense, get one actor to do
what she would not otherwise do,37 but it might also have subtler effects. Authority might create
new preferences in actors who were previously indifferent or at odds. It might change
preferences in others who become persuaded to share the authoritys views based on the
authoritys moral or expert standing. It might mobilize new or different constituencies for
political action.
Deference may occur for a variety of reasons. Some actors may be authoritative because of the
office they hold. The President of the United States is authoritative because he (and potentially
she) holds that office; when that person leaves office, deference will be accorded to the next
individual who holds it. Some actors may be authoritative because of their inherent qualities.
Nelson Mandela, for example, has a certain amount of authority on the international stage
because of his moral character and reputation. Those did not disappear when he left the
presidency of his country. Actors may also be authoritative because of what they represent. They
may represent a respected institution, an under-represented other, or a lofty ideal. Many NGOs,
for example, induce deference (or try to) by claiming to represent noble ideas or deserving
In order to understand the political consequences of the exercise of authority for global politics, it
makes sense to examine the various sources of authority that agents draw upon.39 Broadly, we
see five bases of authority for global governorsinstitutional, delegated, expert, moral, and


See for example, John Braithwaite and Peter Drahos (2000) who, in their comprehensive study of global
business regulation, conclude that webs of dialogue more frequently resolve contested issues than do
webs of coercion in international exchange.
For a sampling of the rich literature on authority see, Richard E. Flathman, The Practice of Political
Authority (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Joseph Raz, ed., Authority (New York: New York
University Press, 1990); David Beetham, The Legitimation of Power (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities
Press International, Ltd., 1991.)
Robert A. Dahl, The Concept of Power, Behavioral Science, Vol. 11 (July 1957), pp. 201-215, and
Power, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences Vol. XII (New York: Free Press, 1968), pp.
Richard Flathman distinguishes those who are an authority from those who are in authority. The
former have inherent qualities that induce deference. In the realm of global governance, these might be
expertise or moral/reputational qualities. Nobel Prize winners, academic experts, heroes all are authorities
of this first type. The latter are actors who are in authority by virtue of the positions they hold. UN
secretary generals, CEOs of multinational corporations, leaders of NGOs are examples of this type. See
Flathman, The practice of political authority, esp. 16-19.
Our strategy is different from those who examine the realm of political authority. See David Lake,
Relational Authority in the Modern World: Toward a Positive Theory of Legitimacy, paper prepared for
the workshop on Legitimacy in the Modern World, University of California, San Diego, 8-9 December
2006; Lou Pauly. More historically see Carl Schmitt. We are interested in the exercise of authority with
political effects that draws from various sources.


Institutional (or Institution-based) authority derives from holding office in some
organizational structure. Managing Directors of the IMF or the heads of multinational
corporations gain authority from their positions in these institutions. Their authority is limited,
however, by the rules and purposes of the institution that authorizes them. If the head of the IMF
suddenly started pronouncing policy on nuclear proliferation, for example, people would not
defer. Indeed, they would probably view such action as illegitimate and wonder about the
persons competence. Similarly, when powerful states push the IMF to bend rules and make
loans to geopolitically sensitive but otherwise not creditworthy states, people will question the
authority and legitimacy of the governor.
Delegated (or Delegation-based) authority is authority on loan from some other set of
authoritative actors. Often, in the realm of global governance those who delegate are states or
sub-state agencies and state delegation to IOs, firms, and NGOs has been widely studied. The
nature of delegation arrangements can vary greatly as can the ways in which global governors
interpret, improvise, or shirk in these delegation arrangements. Often, too, one sees nests or
chains of delegation which may attenuate (or sever completely) the relationship between
preferences (or intentions) of the delegators and governance outcomes on the ground. For
example, Abraham Newman finds complex relationships emerging as states simultaneously
delegate authority to agents below and above the nation-state in their efforts to govern. 40
The disaggregated state, administrative daisy chains, horizontal network brokerage and
leapfrogged alliances that result from this complex delegation raise deep questions about
bureaucratic control, autonomy, and accountability. They also muddy the relationship between
state preferences and outcomes. This is not to say that the delegation is meaningless, however
far from it. Governors exercising or invoking this type of authority often justify their actions with
references to the wishes of their delegators--the principals--but often they will be balancing
these against other demands or even other sources of authority. The UN, for example, may find
itself cross-pressured; member states (the UNs principals) may not be willing to authorize
military action in a humanitarian catastrophe as in Darfur, but the moral authority of the
organization may depend on the UN looking like a credible opponent of genocide. The result is
often hollow or symbolic action that gives the appearance of doing something while not
contradicting limitations of those delegating authority.
Expert (or Expertise-based) authority is authority based on specialized knowledge.
Unlike delegated or institutional authority, it inheres in the actor. A Nobel Prize-winning
physicist or economist remains so, no matter what her or his job. Frequently, though, expertise is
coupled with other types of authority. Institutions or organizations often want experts on staff or
delegate complex technical tasks to experts. As with other forms of authority, expert authority is
limited in its use by the content of its expertise. Education professionals are unlikely to induce
much deference if they start making rules or expressing opinions about technical requirements for
the electronics industry and vice versa.41 Note, too, that there is a sense in which the application
of much professional expertise has a moral dimension. Most professionals believe that exercise
of their profession and application of their knowledge is a social good and furthers goals of the
larger community.42 For example, an economist working for the IMF may well be convinced of
the merits of structural adjustment policies for raising revenue and cutting spending. Her expert

Newman, this volume. Prakash and Potoski also identify networks of governance chains, this volume.
See Mundy and Buthe essays, this volume.
Steven Brint uses the phrase social trustee professionalism to describe this moral aspect of professions
that view themselves as repositories, even guardians, of socially-important knowledge necessary for human
progress. See Steven Brint, In the Age of Experts: the changing role of professionals in politics and public
life. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.


notions of the social good may not be broadly shared, however. These same structural
adjustment policies have led to food riots and mass protests in borrower countries, compromising
the effectiveness of expertise-based authority and its effects on outcomes.
Moral (or Morality-based) authority is legitimated by service to some widely-accepted set
of principles or values. It can inhere in both actors and offices. Desmond Tutu probably enjoys
moral authority of both kinds: he has moral authority as a bishop in the Anglican Church, but also
because of his principled beliefs, personal history, and character. Appeals to moral values are a
very common authorizing tool for a wide variety of actors seeking to govern globally. Moral
claims might be used to galvanize partisan supporters, as with NGOs who are trying to create new
issues or set agendas.43 Appeals to widely-held moral values like peace, security, prosperity,
human dignity, and freedom pervade virtually all aspects of the governance process. Some such
appeals are more credible than others, however, and some actors are more credible in making
them. Corporations may do a great deal of good in the world, but because they are, by their
nature, profit-driven, people suspect their motives making moral authority more difficult for them
to tap. NGOs, by contrast, almost always provide moral claims and are able to do so in part
because no one thinks they are in it for the money. NGOs often benefit from an aura of moral
authority because of this perceived altruism, even if they happen to be incompetent and do little
to further the causes that authorize them.
Efficacious authority44 involves deference based on competence. This has close kinship
with institutional, delegated, and, potentially, expert authority but is distinct. Many scholars,
including Joseph Raz, have described authority which derives from and is justified by the task the
authority is supposed to perform.45 If the community agrees that a task must be accomplished,
then satisfying the communitys preferences authorizes the actor who does this and creates
deference to her. Solving the problem or completing the task may not depend upon the holding of
a particular office in an institution or possession of any rarified knowledge. Instead, effective
action is what creates legitimate authority for the governor. People defer to the governor because
she produces desired results. Empirically, it is hard to think of a pure case of this.46 Most
global governors who are effective at solving problems get their opportunities to do so from some
other source of authority. Pioneers of the microcredit movement might come close to
exemplifying this category, though. Microcredits most famous pioneer, Mohamed Yunus had no
important institutional position of power (Grameen began as a university research project)
although he did have some expertise (Yunus has a doctorate in economics and experience as a
banker), so even this is not a pure case. Yunus current status as an authority in this field comes
largely from his success and the results his organization has produced. Note too that, conversely,
lack of efficacy or competence can undermine authority drawn from other sources. The IMF and
World Bank have had their authority questioned based on accusations of poor performance.
Perceived failures in peacekeeping have strained the UNs authority to undertake such missions.
One common strategy governors use to expand their authority is to demonstrate competence in
new areas, beyond the sources and mandates that originally authorized them. In Lebanon Hamas,
while primarily a militant political organization, has gained political support by providing a range
of social services. Similarly, the Colombian Cali and Medellin drug cartels gained popular
support by building schools and funding local soccer teams. Conversely, some governors are
reluctantly drawn into developing new competencies. Virginia Hauflers examination of the new

See Clifford Bob, this volume

Dear authors: does this category work for you? Does it stand up analytically? Is it useful to you??
Raz, Authority, 5-6.
Paul Red Adairs authority claims lay in successfully extinguishing oil rig fires.


business and conflict agenda that promotes private sector responsibility for conflict prevention
efforts is a clear instance of the reluctant governor.47 In its Chad-Cameroon pipeline project
Exxon-Mobil is charged with preventing conflict; it is doubtful that Exxon-Mobils CEO
envisioned this role when initiating the project.
Most global governors are authorized by some mix of authority types. Indeed, understanding the
many ways in which governors creatively draw on varied sources of authority to induce deference
is part of our research agenda. Sources of authority may be in tension. Institutional rules may
require behavior at odds with expert knowledge. Experts often complain about bureaucratic red
tape when they work inside organizations that govern globally. For instance, in an emergency the
need for quick cash disbursement may be at odds with the layers of authorization needed to
release the funds. Delegation demands from states may be at odds with the moral principles that
authorize a governor. One example would be the UNs inability to intervene in Rwanda because
of lack of support from member states. Delegation demands for functional performance may be a
serious threat to some governors who may have trouble delivering on promises. Continued
poverty in many parts of the world despite extensive and expensive World Bank efforts has
produced a long string of criticism of the Banks performance from member states and others.
Governors spend a great deal of energy managing these types of conflicts. They strategize to
create new interpretations of their missions that reconcile conflicting demands for action that
might otherwise be dangerous or paralyzing. They present themselves strategically to different
audiences, tailoring policies and justifications for policies to satisfy institutional, delegation,
expert, moral, or competence requirements. Understanding how governors manage conflicts
among authority sources is an important part of our project.
What do Global Governors do?
Global governors use their political authority to engage in at least four types of activities.
Setting agendas and creating issues. Much of the IR literature simply assumes that issues
needing governance are obvious and their appearance needs little explanation. As several of our
empirical chapters show, this is far from true. Actors often struggle hard to persuade others that a
problem or issue exists.48 In many cases the problem is not a problem for everyone. Some
actors, often powerful ones, may like the status quo and either deny or refuse to acknowledge the
existence of a problem at all. Even when no powerful or active resistance exists, actors struggle
to get their particular problem noticed. Then, when everyone agrees there is a problem, so what?
The world is full of problems. Time and attention are limited. How do some actors get their
problem defined as issues and placed on consequential agendas when others fail to do so?
Making rules. This might happen through strategic interaction at high level conferences,
as traditional statist analyses describe, but rules have many sources. Some are unintended
consequences of decisions taken for different reasons.49 Example? Other rules may become
codified and widely accepted simply on the basis of past practice, not through formal decisions.
The US prerogative to name the head of the World Bank and Europes right to name the head of


Haufler, this volume.

See Charli Carpenter, this volume; also see David Rochefort and Roger Cobb, eds. 1994. The Politics of
Problem Definition: Shaping the Policy Agenda (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press).
Authors: there must be examples of this but were having trouble coming up with good ones.


the IMF, for example, was an informal agreement that became institutionalized over time.
Similarly, the regional blocs at the UN are artifacts of past practice.
Implementation. Once promulgated, implementing rules is hardly a straightforward or
simple process. Devising policies that put rules into practice is almost always a contested process,
and enforcement may be equally fraught with controversy. Many rules made by high-level
government actors are vague, even platitudinous, requiring other actors to exercise a great deal of
discretion and autonomy to translate them into action on the ground. Even when states or other
governors try to write specific and detailed rules, they are always designed to be applied across
diverse cases. That means that no specific case will fit the rules perfectly and there will always
be exceptions, modification, and improvisation by implementing agents. Even if all actors agree
on what the rules required, acting on those requirements requires resources, information, and
coordination, all of which are notoriously absent in many transnational settings.
Evaluating, monitoring, and adjudicating outcomes. Disputes over implementation and
compliance often require evaluation, monitoring and/or adjudication. Actors such as international
judges, who get to decide what constitutes compliance with rules, are powerful players in the
governance process.50 So, too, are actors who evaluate and monitor the actions of IGOs, NGOs,
MNCs, and other actors who implement programs designed to govern various pieces of
transnational activity. This is a particularly contested process. Stakeholders have different views
of what constitutes compliance. Controversies over World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual
property rules and access to HIV/AIDS medicines are vivid examples such contestation.51
These are stylized abstract categories of governor activities, designed to aid analysis. In practical
governing, these activities may overlap and feed back on each other in many ways. Adjudication
may set new agendas for actors. Implementation may create issues that raise new governance
challenges. Similarly, who does what may vary. In some cases, one governor may carry out
many of these activities. Other issues may involve many actors in different aspects of these
governing activities. An agenda-setter in one instance may be an implementer or evaluator at
another time. Rules may be made by one actor but implemented by many or vice versa.
Understanding these variations and complexities of who does what is one research agenda
generated by our approach.
Relations among governors
Studies of relations among states look only superficially at how governors relate to one another.
The assumption that states exist in a world of anarchy led analysts to focus only on the conditions
that led to conflict or cooperation among like units states. The governors we see in the world
today, however, are not like units at all and they do not all participate in the same activities.
Some, such as transnational advocacy networks focus their attention on issue formation, agenda
setting, and sometimes monitoring. Others, such as the EU, participate in nearly all the
governance activities we identify. Governing is rarely something that a single governor can do
alone, however, so relations among them must be central to our inquiry.
Thinking about authority beyond the state thus requires attention to not only the relations between
governors and governed and the array of authority they are based upon, but also much more

See Danner and Voeten, this volume.

Sell and Prakash, 2004; John Odell and Susan Sell, Reframing the Issue: the WTO coalition on
intellectual property and public health in Odell, Negotiating Trade: Developing Countries in the WTO and
NAFTA (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 85-114.


detailed and self-conscious attention to the relations among authorities in producing governance.
Loosely, we can see four ideal-typical forms of relationships among governors each of which
may result in cooperative or conflicting dynamics. Many real-world governing situations will
involve some combination of forms.
Delegation. Delegation commits functions or powers to another actor as an agent or
deputy.52 Governors can subdivide tasks in an issue area and delegate some or all of them to
various other actors. Delegation often operates through a long term commitment whereby the
principal, for instance NATO member states, creates an agent, NATO, to perform particular tasks
related to security. The agent has some discretion over how she performs the task but agrees to
accept instruction as part of the relationship.
On the global stage these delegation relationships can involve almost any imaginable set of
actors. States might delegate upward to IOs or other supranational actors as states in Europe
have to the EU on various regulatory efforts. States might also delegate downward to sub-state
actors as the Untied States has with gun control. Much of the IR literature focuses on states as
delegators but states are not the only actors who delegate. IOs delegate as the UN has long
delegated responsibility for monitoring the Geneva Conventions to an NGO, the International
Committee of the Red Cross. NGOs also delegate to umbrella groups such as Inter Action to
create policies on areas of common concern or help them coordinate their efforts as well as to
private firms.
States can be agents as well as delegating principals. Depending on an analysts needs and
perspective, states can be viewed as agents of their electorates, of global capital, or of powerful
interest groups.53 In important ways, states can also become implementing agents of many of the
transnational or supranational governors they created. States delegate to the WTO, empowering
it to pass judgment on trade practices, but states then become the WTOs agents when it comes to
actually implementing and enforcing WTO rulings with national firms. Similarly, states delegate
to the ILO the task of setting labor standards, but then become implementing agents of ILO
standards. These delegation relationships can thus take on a circular character.
Delegation can be complex in other ways. Delegation to one agent can breed more delegation to
others. This can create delegation chains and new relationships that the original principal neither
foresaw nor intended. As Abe Newman argues, in both Europe and North America, government
delegation both up to IOs (the EU and NAFTA, respectively) and down to sub-national actors has
created situations of dual (or multiple) agents who develop relationships and cooperate among
themselves. These coalitions then affect the creation of rules, the implementation of policy, the
monitoring of policy, or even the preferences of their government principals. These more
complex agency situations pose challenges to principal control as well as implications for the
functionality and legitimacy of policy outcomes.
The classic statement on delegation is Ronald Coase, The Nature of the Firm, Economica, Vol 4
(1937), pp. 386-405. Gary Miller discusses the twin theorizing among analyses of delegation in
organizational economics on the one hand and psychology and political science on the other. See Gary
Miller, Managerial Dilemmas: the Political Economy of Hierarchy (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1992). Delegation has also been taken up by sociologists. See Harrison White, Agency as
Control, in John Pratt and Richard Zeckhauser, eds., Principals and Agents: the Structure of Business
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985).
On global capital see William K. Tabb, Economic Governance in the Age of Globalization (N.Y.:
Columbia University Press, 2004. For an argument about the power of interest groups in foreign policy,
see John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby, London Review of Books Vol. 28, No. 6 (23
March 2006).



Contracting. Contracting is related to delegation but rather than creating an organization

or relationship to accomplish tasks over an extended period, governors can use the market to
make specific agreements with existing entities to accomplish tasks in the short term.54 For
instance, the UN often contracts with humanitarian relief groups to deliver food and medical care
in the wake of a crisis. States contract with a variety of international agents for-profit and notfor-profit - to deliver poverty relief, disaster assistance, governmental reform and more all over
the world. Non-state actors, including both NGOs and corporations, contract with one another
routinely in a whole range of transnational policy arenas.
Contracts may be renewed many times, but they also may be terminated at the end of the contract
period. Cooley and Ron have demonstrated how the competition over resources between
contractors can lead governors who act as agents to sacrifice commitments to the very principles
that lead to their authority in the first place.55 Contracting also poses challenges to the governor
issuing the contract. While some kinds of framework contracts are built on a long term
relationship of trust between the principal and agent, most are not. When trust is not present,
governors must pay close attention to details in writing the contract and even then may not get the
services they want. While principals have a great deal of latitude before a contract is issued, once
issued, it is harder to get contractors to take instructions than agents in delegation relationships
because the contract instrument enshrines the original agreement for both principal and agent.56
Contracting is a growing part of global governance. It is attractive because issuing a contract to a
corporation or NGO allows short term responses to new challenges that are often harder to
generate with existing relationships of delegation (due to enshrined standard operating procedures
or organizational cultures). Contracting also allows principals to avoid committing to a new
long-term relationship of delegation. This very flexibility, however, poses questions about the
legitimacy, accountability, and effectiveness of contracted work. It also has to potential to
transform governing actors themselves, as Cooley demonstrates in his chapter.
Networks. Governors can also be organized in networks in which like-minded persons
might share information and ideas in ways that shape agendas and/or devise solutions to potential
problems. Network interaction tends not to be as formal as delegated or contractual
relationships. Those writing about transnational advocacy have been explicit about networks as a
mode of relationship.57 Anne-Marie Slaughter has also shown how similarly placed bureaucrats
in different countries may form a network to cooperate at the sub-state level and do much global
governance without involving their heads of state at all.58
Mark Granovetter has argued that networks can provide powerful social contexts in which actors
become embedded. Embeddedness changes agent preferences and self-perceptions in


Oliver Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies: Analysis and Anti-trust Implications (New York: Free
Press, 1975).
Cooley and Ron 2002.
John Donahue, The Privatization Decision: Public Ends, Private Means (Basic Books, 1989).
Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
1998; Ann Florini, The Third Force: the Rise of Transnational Civil Society (Washington, DC: Japan
Center for International Exchange and Carnegie Endowment, 2000).
Anne Marie Slaughter, A New World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).


consequential ways.59 Within networks, some nodes can be more important than others.60 As
Granovetter has also argued, the place of individuals in an overarching network can indicate
important potential for diffusing new ideas. While individuals with strong ties to one another
may be important for understanding small groups, the relationship between groups can be better
understood by focusing on the weak ties individuals have with a much broader range of others. It
is through weak ties that small scale social interactions become translated into large scale social
Features of networks may also make the network more effective at some tasks than others.
Networks are sometimes arranged around vague concepts. This can bring together many different
actors with distinct goals in a way that is useful for advocacy but less so for creating effective
policy. As Roland Paris has argued, the very features that made human security an effective
mobilization tool its seeming application to many features of human existence has also made
it a poor tool for generating any hierarchy of action that would be needed for effective policy
Though many have examined networks as tools for engendering cooperation, they can also serve
to mobilize one side of a fight. As Bobs chapter in this volume indicates, the National Rifle
Association (NRA) was able to network effectively with guns rights organizations and the fire
arms industry to call into question the global initiative to restrict the flow of small arms.
Influential networks can also engender competition within, over what issues to take up and how
best to pursue them, as indicated by Carpenters chapter in this volume.
One of the key features of networks is their diffuse linkages. This diffusion facilitates
participation. Word of mouth, internet lists and chat rooms, professional networks and the like
can galvanize vast mobilization in ways that give voice to many who may not otherwise have
input into global governance schemes. This very diffusion, though, may limit the accountability
of network actors.
Hierarchies.63 In contrast to networks, which are a relatively flat or horizontal set of
relationships, governors may also be related in hierarchies, or vertical relations in which one
governor has power or authority over other governors. Hierarchies may be formal and explicitly
constituted in law or institutions, like those in bureaucratic organizations. Explicit hierarchies of
law inside the European Union, for example, create hierarchical relations between various courts
and judges. They also create some hierarchy between judicial governors and other EU
bureaucrats. Hierarchies may also be informal, however, as in the example of gatekeepers
within transnational advocacy networks described by Carpenter. Such hierarchies may be rooted
in asymmetries of power in its varied forms or in asymmetries of authority. Actors with more
resources or expertise may become gatekeepers or in some other fashion rise to the top of a
hierarchical grouping of governors. Moral authority, too, may confer leadership status on
particular actors within groups of governors active on an issue. While it is the absence of formal
hierarchy that creates many of the interesting puzzles about global governance for IR scholars,
Mark Granovetter, Economic Action and Social Structure: The problem of embeddedness American
Journal of Sociology 91,3(1985) 481-510.
For example, see Peter Drahos, Securing the Future of Intellectual Property: Intellectual Property
Owners and their Nodally Coordinated Enforcement Pyramid Case Western Reserve Journal of
International Law 36 (2004): 53, 55-61.
Mark Granovetter, The strength of weak ties American Journal of Sociology 78, 6 (1973): 1360-80.
Roland Paris, Human Security: Paradigm Shift or Hot Air? International Security Vol. 26, No. 2 (fall
Authors: does this category stand up logically and is it useful empirically?


hierarchy is not absent in international governing relations but its basis has not yet been well
Conflict, competition, and cooperation within and among forms. Much of the existing theoretical
work on global governance focuses on cooperation. Creating cooperation under anarchy was
the original theoretical problem for scholars in this field and cooperation has been understood to
be synonymous with, and necessary for, governance to occur. As we dig deeper into the actual
mechanics of governing activity, however, it becomes clear that cooperation is far from the only
dynamic that produces governance or governance outcomes. Some kinds of relations among
governors entail substantial competition, for example the contracting relations investigated by
Cooley.64 Similarly, there is competition, albeit of a different kind, in selection of international
judges to sit on international tribunals.65 Competition may spill over into outright conflict among
governors at times. Conflict may be central to agenda control, implementation, and the
unmaking of policies by some governors.66 Conflict within (as opposed to among) governors
may shape outcomes as well. Disagreement and conflict within the EUits members but also its
component parts-- has certainly shaped its current form, as McNamara describes.67
Such conflicts could have many sources, but one would be conflict among different sources of
authority that legitimate a governor. One governor (or a group within a governor) may push one
policy as best and right on the basis of one authority claim while another governor (or group
within a governor) may advocate a very different policy rooted in a different authority base. At
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, for example, creditor and donor states
advocated for structural adjustment policies for years on the basis both of economic expertise and
on their institutional position as major shareholders and principals of those organizations.
Debtor states and NGOs often fought these policies by calling on moral claims (obligations to the
worlds poor) buttressed by a countervailing set of economic arguments that structural adjustment
policies would fail to achieve the results claimed by proponents.68 Varied dynamics of
cooperation, competition, and conflict illustrated by research in this volume suggest the need for
more research to investigate conditions under which different dynamics will prevail and with
what consequences.
VI. Moving beyond Global Public Goods: Accountability, Legitimacy and Normative issues
in Global Governance
Global governance is widely assumed to be a good thing. We equate it with activities that are
hard to dislikecooperation, problem-solving, and the provision of public goods. A hard look at
some of the actual governing that goes on in the world, however, suggests that this positive aura
surrounding the term may not always be warranted. Ethical implications of much governing
activity are often mixed and complex. Whether governance activities are a good thing depends
a great deal on answers to the question, good for whom? and good for what purpose?
One reason we neglect to ask these questions may be the language we use to talk about
governance. The rhetoric commonly used to carry out our inquiries carries a normative bias
about which scholars have not always been self-conscious or reflective. Two terms, in particular,
are loaded: cooperation and public goods. In a world where conflict and violence are all too

Cooley, this volume; Cooley and Ron op. cit.

Danner and Voeten, this volume.
Bob, this volume.
McNamara, this volume.
These conflicts continue in the MDGs debates analyzed by Gutner, this volume.


common, cooperation is often portrayed (sometimes implicitly) as the antithesis or cure for these
ills. If only states could cooperate, we would have fewer wars, solve more problems, and live in a
more harmonious world (or so the rhetoric suggests). As analysts, though, we know that
cooperation, itself, is neither good nor bad; it is the ends to which we cooperate that can be
normatively judged. Hitler and Stalin cooperated to invade Poland and a great deal of
cooperation is required to undertake genocide, massive environmental destruction, and
exploitation. The fact that cooperation is occurring to produce governance does not, by itself, say
anything about the ethics of that activity.
Another rhetorical source of analytic confusion lies in common use (or misuse) of the term
public good. Governors may have a variety of motivations in carrying out their activities.
Some may be self-interested, some principled, some may be acting for profit, others may be
altruists but many (probably most) are some combination of these. Whatever their motive, a
common tactic among global governors is appealing to the greater collective or public good to
legitimate their action. Such appeals, after all, provide the basis for claiming that others should
defer and grant them authority in the first place. One result of such appeals in the academic
literature has been some conflation of global governance for the public good with provision of
public goods in an economic sense. The definition of a public good in economics is a good that
is both non-rival and non-excludable. Clean air, clean water, lighthouses, and national defense
are classic examples. The term public good is thus a technical description of a product; it is not
a statement of its normative value. Global governance analysis is not always clear about this
distinction, however, and sometimes conflates products (goods) with what is desirable
(good.) This tendency has deep roots in academic thinking. Much of the work on hegemonic
stability as a form of global governance in the 1980s was driven by worries over US decline and
the effects this might have on both global stability and the public goods US hegemony
provided. Whether the loss of US hegemony was good or bad was not much debated in this work
nor was the normative value of the US-sponsored order and array of public good (or goods) it
In analyzing the work of governors for this volume we attend to some very obvious normative
issues in ways that flow logically from our analytic approach and inform it.
Qui Bono? Who benefits from the actions of global governors and, conversely, who is
hurt?70 While most governors make broad claims about widespread public benefits of their
action, not all do. Some governors work openly for the benefit of one specific groupan
industrial sector or an oppressed population, for example. They may argue that benefiting this
group somehow has diffuse benefits for all, but the particularism of their actions is openly
proclaimed. Other governors may claim to be working in the public interest and for everyones
benefit but find that their vision of who the public is and what the public wants is not shared by
all. Economists working in both IOs and governments may find that pareto-improving free trade
arrangements are not universally loved. Some people do get hurt but, equally important, people
value other things besides ever-expanding capitalism. They value local cultures, traditions, and
community that may be crushed by global markets. Even when governors work for some
reasonably consensual goal, like controlling disease, governors may find that intended

For more contemporary work that does engage some of these issues see Inge Kahl, Isabelle Grunberg,
and Marc Stern, Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21 st Century. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1999.
This question informed much of Susan Stranges scholarship. See S. Strange, The Retreat of the State
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Strange, Casino Capitalism (Manchester University
Press: N.Y., 1997); Cave! Hic Dragones: a Critique of Regime Analysis International Organization 36,2
(Spring 1982): 479-496.


beneficiaries are not the actual ones if corrupt distribution systems siphon valuable medicines
away from the needy and enrich local middlemen. Clashes among governors (and with the
governed) over who should benefit, who does benefit, and what benefits governors should pursue
permeate most efforts by governors, and our authors attend to these fights.
The qui bono question is not only a normative one for us; it also raises analytic
concerns that bear directly on the structure of our analysis. One involves the relation between
governors and the governed. Why should the governed defer if governing is bad for them?
Possible answers to this question have very different moral valances. We might defer out of
some version of rational inadequacy. Perhaps we are uncertain about or miscalculate the
outcomes of governing due to scant information. Perhaps we are simply not paying attention. A
great deal of governing goes on every day in the world that influences our lives in many ways. It
would be impossible to keep track of them all. So we go along and muddle through, deferring
to a great many authorities doing things that affect everything from the price of bread to nuclear
destruction. The deeply structured nature of social life means that refusing to defer to authority
often requires significant time, attention, and effort much of which must be organized collectively
to have effects, and obstacles to collective action are well-known.
We might also defer to bad governance because we lack power to do otherwise. As
Barnett and Duvall have shown, power can have many faces in governing arrangements. It might
take the form of overt coercion by governors but it can also be deeply embedded in social
relations and diffused through institutional structures that seem far removed, ergo invisible, to
those over whom it is exercised. Normative structures of justice, nationalism, civilization or
progress can be extraordinarily powerful in inducing deference to governing arrangements that
might not be in the narrow interest of actors. Savvy governors (or aspiring governors) can deploy
rhetoric, not just to persuade but also to coerce, by drawing on these normative structures to
undercut strategies for dissent and arguments that might undercut governor authority.71 Scholars
of global governance have not much focused on rhetoric as a tool of governing beyond
persuasion, but a broader view of rhetorics power may be useful as we explore governors beyond
The qui bono question may also have implications for the legitimacy of governors.
Studies of state legitimacy have shown that legitimacy is not tied neatly to material benefits. The
poor are often among the most nationalistic in many countries. But continued exploitation and
abuse clearly do have effects on legitimacy, for both states and, we suspect, for our governors.
Understanding what creates deference in governance losers is thus an important analytic problem
for us as well as a normative one since the analytic understanding has implications for efforts at
(ii) Accountability. Power exercised without accountability is always morally suspect and global
governors are no exception. Governors often exercise great power over the lives of people far
removed from them and who may have few avenues of redress or protest when they are harmed
by a governors actions. Increasingly in contemporary politics, however, accountability of
governors is essential to their legitimacy and to their authority; deference is hard to generate
without some means of holding governors to account. One interesting feature of the global
governors we study is that many of them actively seek accountability as a means of increasing
their authority and legitimacy. Thus, while some governors may try to escape scrutiny, many
others seek it out as a means of gaining more influence.
Demands for accountability in global governors raise a variety questions which we
address in our research.
a) Accountable to whom? Most governors are the object of accountability claims by
more than one constituency. This may be necessary and good, particularly if the governors work
Barnett and Duvall 2005, 2007; Patrick T. Jackson and Ronald Krebs, Twisting Tongues and Twisting
Arms: The Power of Political Rhetoric EJIR 13, 1(March 2007):35-66. Stephen Gill add cite.


affects multiple groups, but it can make life complicated for governors and produce complex,
even contradictory, policies. The World Bank is accountable to its member states but has found
itself increasingly under pressure to be accountable to both NGOs, who work with it and monitor
its actions, as well as to the populations effected by its projects. These constituencies may not all
want the same things from the Bank creating dilemmas that Bank staff must manage.
b) Accountable for what? Many governors have multifaceted missions which may
include very abstract or diffuse goals that are hard to measure. Worse, many demand
contradictory actions. The UN is supposed to safeguard the sovereignty and independence of its
members but it also has a responsibility to protect people who may be endangered by the
actions of a member government. How, then, does one hold such a governor to account? What,
exactly, would constitute good performance for this governor? Different constituencies may
have very different views on this, vastly complicating the life of the governor and managing these
conflicting demands can be a challenge.
c) Accountable by what mechanism? As constituencies have demanded more
accountability from governors, an impressive array of mechanisms has appeared to accomplish
this end. Transparency is one particularly common tool for monitoring what governors do. The
explosion in information governors of all kinds release about themselves and their activities is
largely driven by these accountability demands.72 Participation by concerned constituencies in
governor decision making is another. The IFIs now pride themselves on including representatives
of borrower states and affected populations in decision making about their work, albeit with
controversial results. Offering or withholding funding based on performance is another obvious
way to hold governors to account. Donors to NGOs often use this tool and the US withheld dues
to the UN to induce performance changes.73
Careful analysis of accountability demands and governor responses can be revealing. It
helps us understand more about who has power and who is likely to benefit from governance
arrangements, but it also says something about how governors, themselves, understand their
responsibilities and their missions.74
VII. Overview of the book.
We have organized the chapters to come into four sections, based largely upon the sources of
governing authority. Although often governors have several bases of authority, we have grouped
governors according to their most prominent authority source. Within roughly similar bases of
authority, we see different politics result from different relations among governors and the
dynamic introduced by competition among sources of authority.
The first section consists of three chapters that examine the politics of authority based on
delegation. Tamar Gutner examines the IMF as a governor whose authority has generally been
delegated to it by member states, Alex Cooley focuses on contractors who are exercising
authority in war zones delegated to them by states and international organizations and Abe
Newman looks at the interaction between sub-state and supra-state agents again of states.

Ann Florini ed., The Right to Know: Transparency for an Open World. New York: Columbia University
Press, 2007.
Grant and Keohane describe seven different accountability mechanisms. Ruth Grant and Robert O.
Keohane, Accountability and Abuses of Power in World Politics American Political Science Review
99(2005): 29-43. On accountability in NGOs see Hugo Slim, By What Authority? The Legitimacy and
Authority of Non-governmental Organizations Journal of Humanitarian Assistance (2002) available at:
Authors: this section is purposefully short. What overarching issues are crucial and missing?
What normative issues are emerging in your cases that you think could be fruitfully discussed in the
framing chapter?


These stories, though, are not the traditional ones we have heard about where states with clear and
exogenous preferences delegate to IOs who then pursue their wishes.
Gutner uses a rationalist framework to argue that delegation can be problematic when principals
in this case member states and the UN do it poorly. Asking the IMF, as they have, to
participate in developing and implementing policy to meet the Millennium Development Goals is
an example of what Gutner calls mission seep where a broad array of international actors are
asked to pursue the same goals. It has pushed the IMF out of its core strengths and bears all the
signs of delegation pathology where principals delegate tasks that are unclear, unrealistic or
highly complex. Her analysis thus hinges on competing dynamics among sources of authority
the institutional and expertise based authority the IMF has developed versus the authority it has
been delegated in a new realm. The IMF has every incentive to jump on the MDG bandwagon
because that is what states have asked and that is where the money is. But in so doing, the IMF is
working toward the same goals as many other organizations with no coordination and there is
little consensus on the relationship between the MDGs and the IMFs Poverty Reduction and
Growth Facility. It is being responsive to its principals (and thus a good agent) but in a way that
leads away from the principals ultimate goals. In a sense, Gutner suggests that the IMF would
do a better job (for both its principals and the populations who are most impacted by its actions)
were it to rely more on its expertise and developed institutional authority to bound the missions it
agreed to take on. As it is, though states and IOs have a common set of goals complete with
targets and timetables, no one is accountable for the outcome. Having global governors like the
IMF to delegate to, ironically, makes it easier for states to nod to global outcomes but not meet
Cooley also adopts a rationalist framework to argue that delegation works through a particular set
of dynamics when governors contract with one another to implement policy. Contracting
particularly with incomplete, short term, renewable contracts leads to competition among
contractors that undermines both the principals goals and the agents continued authority. He
illustrates how the dynamic is similar whether the principals are states (like the US) or IOs (like
the UN) and also whether the agents are corporations (like Halliburton) or NGOs (like CARE).
The ultimate result Cooley outlines is quite similar to what Gutner finds agents that are deliver
services through incomplete, renewable, short run contracting relationships undercut both
principal policies and their own authority.
Abe Newman offers a view of governors with delegated authority that generate new, and
sometimes quite competent, governing arrangements that make regulatory rules. In his chapter,
sub-state and supra-state agents, when they cooperate (both with each other and with
transnational experts) develop their own governing authority that allows them to circumvent
pressures by short run pressures by states and attend to longer term goals that cater to a broader
transnational constituency. The irony here is that dual delegation undermines state control but in
a way that may lead to policy that benefit a broader range of states in the long term and
simultaneously enhances the authority of these new regulatory networks. He illustrates these
claims looking at market regulation and social policy in the EU and beyond.
Next, several perspectives on expert based authority are offered by Allison Danner and Erik
Voeten, Aseem Prakash and Matthew Potoski, and Tim Buthe. They suggest various paths by
which expertise joins with other bases of authority to create rules (international environmental
and electrical standards) and adjudicate them (international criminal tribunals).
Danner and Voetens chapter provides a transition between delegated and expertise as bases for
authority as they describe how international tribunals were set up by states as delegated authority


but became, by virtue of judges expertise greater authorities in their own right and have begun to
shape the preferences of their member states.
Prakash and Potoski examine the creation of ISO 14001 a voluntary club launched by the
International Organization for Standardization. Expertise based (and agreed upon) environmental
standards lay the foundation for this club. In keeping with the expectations of club theory, the
fact that environmental standards were non rival but excludable opened the possibility for
launching a voluntary club. Convincing would be participating companies that abiding by these
standards would be profitable and that non-abiders would not reap the gains was crucial to their
development. Prakash and Potoski describe the way in which the ISO used its expertise to
triangulate between different constituencies (companies, NGOs and consumers) in creating the
14001 standards and how those constituencies determined limits to ISO 14001s activities: rule
making and monitoring but not enforcement.
Tim Buthe focuses on how the International Electrotechnical Commission emerged as a standards
organization that makes rules in the first place. He shows how the confluence of expertise and
self interest drew individuals who were at once scientists and investors together as networks to
launch an organization that could enhance harmonization in ways that led to greater profitability.
Though the basis of its authority was expertise, individuals who served to gain material benefits
from standardization were crucial to the creation of the commission. He describes how this
particular confluence both generate a new governor and limited what kinds of standards would
In the section on morality based authority, both Charli Carpenter and Clifford Bob suggest new
twists on morality based authority and Karen Mundy demonstrates that agreement on principles
does not necessarily translate into effective policy.
Though others have focused on transnational advocacy networks as principled actors, Carpenter
demonstrates that there are hierarchies among the issue networks that are important for
determining which issues are formulated as agenda issues and which are left by the wayside. By
looking at an issue that has not been taken up by networks concerned with children and war the
issue of children born of rape she demonstrates the importance of these hierarchies and posits
an innovative method through which other might study them.
Clifford Bob takes issue with the implicit assumption underlying much work on global
governance that there is only one moral vision. By focusing on the fight between NGOs over the
regulation of small arms, he uncovers the process through with agenda setting efforts by one
group claiming the moral high ground can be fought and even undermined by another claiming a
different moral vision.
Karen Mundys analysis of global governance on education begins with the paradox that despite
agreement on a principle education for all UNICEF was unable to implement policy while the
as the principle became contested under the Millennium Development goals, it also generated
more consistent policy. She makes it clear that much more research should focus on the links
between agenda setting, rule making, and implementation.
Our final section pairs a chapter by Virginia Haufler about a governor that only reluctantly
assumed efficacious authority with one by Kate McNamara where another governor intentionally
constructed institutional authority.


Hauflers analysis of the process by which issue framing by advocacy networks generated
governing authority not for themselves but for the transnational corporations they meant to
implicate. In their efforts to get transnational corporations to take responsibility over the
possibility that their behavior fed into conflict, advocacy networks opened the potential for global
corporations to have greater political impacts. Far from endorsing this role, global corporations
have thus far been reluctant governors pointing out their lack of institutional authority over
conflict issues. The fact that they have such a large impact on the ground, however, continues to
draw them in to conflict preventions activities (if only to avoid being blamed).
In contrast, McNamara argues that the EU is actively constructing institutional authority for itself
through the mobilization of symbols. Ironically, agents within the EU are using a quintessentially
modern form bureaucracy to construct the symbolic underpinnings of a postmodern state. It
is the mobilization of symbols, she claims, (by networks of governors?) as much as any actual
impact that has created a sense of Europe and Europeans that is having significant political
impacts even regardless of national backlashes. Her analysis might also have ramification for
other symbolic and postmodern entities such as the international community.