Does Stakeholder Involvement Foster Democratic Legitimacy in International Organizations? An Empirical Assessment of a Normative Theory
Review of International Organizations, Link to final version, online first: DOI 10.1007/s11558-014-9212-6, Forthcoming
42 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2014 Last revised: 26 May 2015
Date Written: December 22, 2014
The involvement of non-state organizations in global governance is widely seen as an important step toward global democracy. Proponents of “stakeholder democracy” argue that stakeholder organizations, such as civil society groups and other non-state actors, may represent people significantly affected by global decisions better than elected governments. In this article we identify a particularly promising sociological variant of this argument, test it against new evidence from a large-scale survey among stakeholder organizations with varying levels of involvement in international organizations (IOs), and find that the suggested stakeholder mechanism for producing democratic legitimacy in global governance does not work. Stakeholder involvement is unproductive for democratic legitimacy in IOs as perceived by stakeholders themselves. We suggest alternative explanations of this finding and argue that empirical analysis is useful for adjudicating normative arguments on the viability of stakeholder democracy in global governance.
Keywords: democracy, legitimacy, international organization, stakeholder, non-state actor
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