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The effect of international environmental institutions: how we might learn more


  • Bernauer, Thomas


Analysts of international politics can measure and explain the effect of international environmental institutions on the behavior of states and other actors and on the natural environment in three steps. First, we measure the outcome to be explained in terms of goal attainment, defined as the difference, over time or across cases, between actor behavior or the state of the natural environment on dimensions identified by institutional goals and certain end points determined by institutional goals. Second, we assess the effect of an institution in terms of the extent to which the existence or operation of the institution contributes, ceteris paribus, to variation in goal attainment. We transform these two variables into a score of institutional effectiveness to indicate the degree to which institutions contribute to the resolution of the environmental problems that motivate their establishment. Third, we analyze the relationship between institutional effectiveness and specific dimensions of institutional design—such as decision-making rules, membership and access conditions, and the compliance system.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernauer, Thomas, 1995. "The effect of international environmental institutions: how we might learn more," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(02), pages 351-377, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:49:y:1995:i:02:p:351-377_02

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    Cited by:

    1. Amitrajeet Batabyal, 1999. "Developing Countries and Environmental Protection: Contract Design in Perfectly Correlated Environments," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 305-323, July.
    2. Batabyal, Amittrajeet A., 1996. "An agenda for the design and study of international environmental agreements," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 3-9, October.
    3. Tamar Gutner & Alexander Thompson, 2010. "The politics of IO performance: A framework," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 227-248, September.
    4. Reischl, Gunilla, 2012. "Designing institutions for governing planetary boundaries — Lessons from global forest governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 33-40.
    5. Batabyal, Amitrajeet A., 1997. "Developing countries and environmental protection: the effects of budget balance and pollution ceiling constraints," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 285-305, December.
    6. Batabyal, Amitrajeet A., 1998. "Developing countries and international environmental agreements: The case of perfect correlation," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 85-102.
    7. Heubaum, Harald & Biermann, Frank, 2015. "Integrating global energy and climate governance: The changing role of the International Energy Agency," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 229-239.
    8. Jürg Vollenweider, 2013. "The effectiveness of international environmental agreements," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 343-367, September.
    9. Tobias Böhmelt & Jürg Vollenweider, 2015. "Information flows and social capital through linkages: the effectiveness of the CLRTAP network," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 105-123, May.
    10. Jon Skjærseth, 2003. "Managing North Sea Pollution Effectively:Linking International and Domestic Institutions," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 167-190, June.
    11. Frank Grundig, 2012. "Dealing with the temporal domain of regime effectiveness: A further conceptual development of the Oslo-Potsdam solution," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 111-127, May.
    12. Steinar Andresen, 2007. "The effectiveness of UN environmental institutions," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 317-336, December.
    13. Batabyal, Amitrajeet A., 1998. "On the irrelevance of collusion in perfectly correlated environments," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 393-405.
    14. Susanne Schmeier & Andrea K. Gerlak & Sabine Blumstein, 2016. "Clearing the muddy waters of shared watercourses governance: conceptualizing international River Basin Organizations," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 597-619, August.

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