The inclusion of NGO's in International Organizations

Cao, Ruixing, Foreign Affairs - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Potter, Philip, As-Dept Of Politics, University of Virginia

This paper explores the relationship between the size of international organizations (IOs) and the incorporation of transnational actors like NGOs. While NGOs are deeply involved in the daily operation of certain IOs, they are largely excluded in others. In contrast with constructivist perspective, which argues that NGOs are included because of concerns on IOs’ legitimacy and the spread of participatory norms, this paper offers an alternative argument on NGO incorporation originated from principal-agent theory. As actors within the international system with limited independence, IOs do not necessarily always promote the benefits of member states. While the cost of directly monitoring IOs behavior can be costly, states rely on NGOs to practice oversight on IOs and sound the “fire alarm”. The need for NGO monitoring increases as the size of IOs also increases. Besides monitoring, another factor that influences NGO incorporation is technical complexity. When IOs try to address issues that are complicated, it might need expertise from NGOs to design and implement efficient projects. Using data from 53 IOs, this paper test hypotheses based on these two arguments.

MA (Master of Arts)
International Organizations, NGOs
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