Stability and Change in International Policy-Making: A Punctuated Equilibrium Approach

Review of International Organizations, Forthcoming

26 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2017

See all articles by Magnus Lundgren

Magnus Lundgren

Stockholm University

Theresa Squatrito

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of International Relations; University of Oslo - Department of Public and International Law

Jonas Tallberg

Stockholm University - Department of Political Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 19, 2017

Abstract

International organizations (IOs) have developed into important policy venues beyond the state. Yet our understanding of the broader dynamics of IO policy-making is limited. This article offers the first comparative analysis of macro patterns in IO policy-making. Theoretically, we draw on punctuated equilibrium theory to develop hypotheses about stability and change in the orientation of IO policy agendas. Empirically, we examine novel data on the policy output of five general-purpose IOs between 1980 and 2015, combining statistical analysis and comparative case illustrations. The analysis yields two central results. First, the policy agendas of all five IOs display patterns of punctuated equilibria, with longer periods of stability interrupted by shorter periods of dramatic change. Second, the level of institutional friction in decision-making contributes to variation in punctuations across IOs and within IOs over time. The results suggest four broader implications: (1) punctuated equilibrium theory applies to a broader empirical domain than previously thought; (2) patterns of change in IOs are more complex than conventionally expected; (3) institutional friction matters for IOs’ responsiveness to societal demands and problem pressures; and (4) deeper integration of punctuated equilibrium theory into the study of IOs can pave the way for a promising IR research agenda.

Keywords: International Organization, International Institution, Policy, Policy-Making, Punctuated Equilibrium

Suggested Citation

Lundgren, Magnus and Squatrito, Theresa and Tallberg, Jonas, Stability and Change in International Policy-Making: A Punctuated Equilibrium Approach (August 19, 2017). Review of International Organizations, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3023969

Magnus Lundgren (Contact Author)

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

Theresa Squatrito

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of International Relations ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United States

University of Oslo - Department of Public and International Law ( email )

P.O. Box 6706 St. Olavs plass
N-0130 Oslo
Norway

Jonas Tallberg

Stockholm University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

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