restricted access 2. International Bureaucracies
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2 International Bureaucracies Steffen Bauer, Steinar Andresen, and Frank Biermann Research on international relations is marked today by a resurgence of interest in the role and relevance of international bureaucracies and international organizations after a long period of academic neglect since the late 1970s (overview in Bauer et al. 2009). This chapter makes a threefold contribution to this thriving field of research. First, we add to current research by conceptualizing international bureaucracies as a distinct category of actors within international organizations and international relations. This helps to relate them to other types of nonstate actors that have been emphasized in recent research on global governance , such as multinational corporations (Tienhaara, Orsini, and Falkner, this book, chapter 3) or transnational networks of scientists (Gupta et al., this book, chapter 4). Second, this chapter sheds light on the role of international bureaucracies as distinct stakeholders within new types of governance mechanisms, such as transnational environmental regimes (Pattberg, this book, chapter 5), transnational public-private partnerships (Bäckstrand et al., this book, chapter 6), and transnational governance experiments (Bulkeley et al., this book, chapter 7). Third, we assess and explain the influence of international bureaucracies within an overarching institutional architecture that is marked by increasing segmentation of different layers and clusters of rule making and rule implementing (see part III, this book). Although the insights advanced in this chapter apply to global governance in a broader sense, empirical manifestations of key developments are particularly prominent in the realm of environmental policy, which has long been a fertile ground for institutional innovation in international cooperation (Zürn 1998; Mitchell 2002; Young 2008). The Global Governance Project early on focused its research on the role and relevance of international bureaucracies, involving six partner institutions in three countries. This chapter presents the core findings from these diverse 28 Steffen Bauer, Steinar Andresen, and Frank Biermann research efforts and places them in the wider context of global governance research (for more extensive treatments, see Andresen and Skjærseth 1999; Andresen 2001, 2002, 2007; Bauer 2006a; Bauer, Busch, and Siebenhüner 2009; Biermann, Siebenhüner, and Schreyögg 2009a,b; Biermann and Siebenhüner 2009a). Conceptualization We conceptualize international bureaucracies in our work as agencies that have been created by governments or other public actors with some degree of permanence and coherence and beyond formal direct control of single national governments, and that act in the international arena to pursue a policy. The capacity of a bureaucracy to act is vested in an administrative apparatus with a hierarchically organized group of international civil servants that have an externally defined mandate and resources, explicit organizational boundaries, and a set of formal rules of procedures within their policy area (Biermann, Siebenhüner et al. 2009; see also Biermann and Bauer 2004). This notion of international bureaucracy is more comprehensive than the narrower concepts of international organizations in international law that focus on the legal status of an entity regardless of functions, actual role, or effectiveness. However, our notion is more specific than the broader concepts that are prevalent in organizational studies. What’s important is that our definition allows differentiating between international organizations and international bureaucracies. An international organization is, in our use of the term, an institutional arrangement that combines three elements: a normative framework, a group of member states, and a bureaucracy as administrative core. For instance, the International Maritime Organization agrees through decision of its general assembly and subsequent ratification by member states on the creation of new international principles and rules in its area of activity. States can join the organization and they can participate in rule making, with the expectation that they accept and implement the collectively agreed rules. In addition, the International Maritime Organization comprises a hierarchically organized group of civil servants that acts within the mandate of the organization and within the decisions of the assembly of member states. This is what we call the international bureaucracy. This conceptualization thus allows helping “to keep analytically apart the international bureaucracies as actors and the collectivity of member states of an international organization, both of which are referred to as international International Bureaucracies 29 organizations in much writing in the mainstream international relations literature” (Biermann, Siebenhüner, et al. 2009, 40). Consequently, we also distinguish between bureaucracies and institutions, which we see purely as sets of principles and rules. Research on international bureaucracies, as defined, contributes to two developments in the study of international organization and global governance. These developments make international bureaucracies, even though...


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Subject Headings

  • Environmental policy -- International cooperation.
  • Environmental responsiblity -- International cooperaiton.
  • Global environmental changes.
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