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Leading by design: Informal influence and international secretariats

Leading by design: Informal influence and international secretariats This article tests three hypotheses concerning the influence of international secretariats in world politics. This is a topic that has so far received limited systematic attention by IR theorists, who have tended to regard secretariats as bit players in global affairs. Drawing on institutional design literature, I develop a detailed theoretical explanation for both secretariat leadership and state mastery of international organizations. Because powerful actors anticipate channels for informal influence when designing secretariats, they seek to maximize formal bureaucratic autonomy. I assess the explanatory power of this theory through an analysis of negotiations over the design of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). A detailed archival investigation reveals that powerful countries, led by the United States, sought to maximize the autonomy of the UNEP secretariat. Developing countries, which expected to exert less informal influence on the new secretariat, sought to ensure strong intergovernmental control over UNEP’s secretariat. Since UNEP has been a frequently cited example of secretarial leadership and initiative, finding that the UNEP secretariat’s ability to act autonomously was in significant part determined by past institutional design choices holds relevance for theory development. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Review of International Organizations Springer Journals

Leading by design: Informal influence and international secretariats

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References (69)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Social Sciences; Social Sciences, general; Political Science; Economics, general
ISSN
1559-7431
eISSN
1559-744X
DOI
10.1007/s11558-016-9245-0
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article tests three hypotheses concerning the influence of international secretariats in world politics. This is a topic that has so far received limited systematic attention by IR theorists, who have tended to regard secretariats as bit players in global affairs. Drawing on institutional design literature, I develop a detailed theoretical explanation for both secretariat leadership and state mastery of international organizations. Because powerful actors anticipate channels for informal influence when designing secretariats, they seek to maximize formal bureaucratic autonomy. I assess the explanatory power of this theory through an analysis of negotiations over the design of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). A detailed archival investigation reveals that powerful countries, led by the United States, sought to maximize the autonomy of the UNEP secretariat. Developing countries, which expected to exert less informal influence on the new secretariat, sought to ensure strong intergovernmental control over UNEP’s secretariat. Since UNEP has been a frequently cited example of secretarial leadership and initiative, finding that the UNEP secretariat’s ability to act autonomously was in significant part determined by past institutional design choices holds relevance for theory development.

Journal

The Review of International OrganizationsSpringer Journals

Published: Feb 27, 2016

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