International Organizations as Corporate Actors: Agency and Emergence in Theories of International Relations
In this paper, the implicit and explicit conceptualizations of international organizations found in the three major theories of international relations are outlined and compared. It turns out that in a neorealist framework, international organizations can be explained; however, they exhibit no autonomy and cannot therefore be conceptualized as a corporate actor. Principally, the same applies to rational choice institutionalism, although limited autonomy is conceivable. Both theories are reductionist in the sense that they do not allow a corporate actor beyond the nation-state. International organizations are at best instruments of state interests. Solely social constructivist theories allow a conceptualization of international organizations as partly autonomous corporate actors. The reason for this conceptual openness lies in its ontology that includes ideational factors such as knowledge and ideas. The concept of emergence gives the core explanation for international organization autonomy: identities and interests of states and international organizations constitute each other mutually. This is specified by referring to the generation of new knowledge within international organizations as the key feature which accounts for feedbacks to the member-states of international organizations. This power of international organizations to alter perceptions and identities of their own ‘founding fathers’ makes them more than state instruments. International organizations thereby gain autonomy, which justifies conceiving of them as high-order corporate actors in international relations.
|Date of creation:||Feb 2008|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +49-(0)228 / 91416-0
Fax: +49-(0)228 / 91416-55
Web page: http://www.coll.mpg.de/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Powell, Robert, 1994. "Anarchy in international relations theory: the neorealist-neoliberal debate," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(02), pages 313-344, March.
- Kratochwil, Friedrich & Ruggie, John Gerard, 1986. "International organization: a state of the art on an art of the state," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(04), pages 753-775, September.
- Wendt, Alexander E., 1987. "The agent-structure problem in international relations theory," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(03), pages 335-370, June.
- Ness, Gayl D. & Brechin, Steven R., 1988. "Bridging the gap: international organizations as organizations," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(02), pages 245-273, March.
- Moravcsik, Andrew, 1997. "Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(04), pages 513-553, September.
- Putnam, Robert D., 1988. "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 427-460, June.
- Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982.
"Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
- David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
- Gourevitch, Peter, 1978. "The second image reversed: the international sources of domestic politics," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(04), pages 881-912, September.
- Grieco, Joseph M., 1988. "Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the newest liberal institutionalism," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 485-507, June.
- Wendt, Alexander, 1992. "Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 391-425, March.
- Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2008_7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Marc Martin)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.