Institutional overlap in global governance and the design of intergovernmental organizations

Reinsberg, B. and Westerwinter, O. (2023) Institutional overlap in global governance and the design of intergovernmental organizations. Review of International Organizations, (doi: 10.1007/s11558-023-09488-2) (Early Online Publication)

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How does the increasingly dense network of overlapping institutions in global governance affect the design of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)? We argue that institutional overlap can unleash mimicking dynamics whereby states design new IGOs using the design of existing organizations that engage in similar issue areas and perform similar governance tasks for similar member states as templates. Using design templates from the reference group of overlapping institutions is a strategy for boundedly rational designers in situations of complexity because it reduces uncertainty and lowers the costs of identifying suitable institutional solutions. Overlap therefore increases the design similarity between new and pre-existing IGOs, specifically where pre-existing organizations have institutional designs that made them endure. Introducing a new measure of institutional overlap in global governance and new data on the design and governance tasks of the 534 IGOs from the Correlates of War Project, we corroborate our argument using regression analyses. Our results hold important lessons for theories of institutional design, regime complexity, and global governance more broadly.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding from the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and the University of St. Gallen is gratefully acknowledged. Oliver Westerwinter is also grateful for the generous support of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the Max Weber Programme at the European University Institute.
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Reinsberg, Dr Bernhard
Authors: Reinsberg, B., and Westerwinter, O.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Review of International Organizations
ISSN (Online):1559-744X
Published Online:28 March 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Review of International Organizations 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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