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The Power of the Chair: Formal Leadership in International Cooperation

International Studies Quarterly 54 (1): 241-265, 2010

25 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2012  

Jonas Tallberg

Stockholm University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This article addresses the influence wielded by the formal leaders of international cooperation – those state or supranational representatives that chair and direct negotiations in the major decision bodies of multilateral organizations and conferences. This is a topic that so far has received limited systematic attention by IR theorists, who have tended to treat bargaining parties as functionally and formally equivalent, leaving little theoretical space for formal leadership. Drawing on rational choice institutionalism, I introduce a theory that develops a coherent argument for the delegation of authority to the chairmanship, the power resources of negotiation chairs, and the influence of formal leaders over outcomes. I assess the explanatory power of this theory through evidence on formal leadership in three alternative organizational settings: the EU, the GATT/WTO, and UN environmental conferences. I find in favor of the chairmanship as a source of independent influence in international cooperation. Formal leaders perform functions of agenda management, brokerage, and representation that make it more likely for negotiations to succeed, and possess privileged resources that may enable them to steer negotiations toward the agreements they most prefer.

Keywords: leadership, entrepreneurship, chairmanship, chair, leaders, negotiations, international organizations, European Union, GATT, WTO, United Nations

Suggested Citation

Tallberg, Jonas, The Power of the Chair: Formal Leadership in International Cooperation (2010). International Studies Quarterly 54 (1): 241-265, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2180533

Jonas Tallberg (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

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