The Power of Performance Indicators: Rankings, Ratings and Reactivity in International Relations
38 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
Global Performance Indicators (GPIs) are increasingly used to rank, rate or categorize states in a number of issue areas. Many of these new indicators are short-lived efforts to grab attention and are unlikely to matter much. But we believe there are good reasons to think that some GPIs affect important areas of state policy. Indeed, we argue that GPIs should be thought of increasingly as tools of global governance, involving rule-making and the exercise of soft power on a global scale and that their proliferation constitutes a profound social trend with implications for governance world-wide and reflects the diversity of actors and institutions attempting to influence policies across and among states. This article defines what we mean by global performance indicators, and describes their features. Using a new dataset and a series of interviews with producers of various indices, we document the proliferation of GPIs, which have been developed and promulgated by a wide range of actors, both public and private; unilaterally and multilaterally. We then elaborate possible causal mechanisms that we expect to connect externally generated GPIs with state policy, and hypothesize about the scope conditions for their effects.
Keywords: global governance, soft power, shaming, international relations, global governance indicators, indices
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