Introduction: The Power of Global Performance Indicators

29 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2019

See all articles by Judith G. Kelley

Judith G. Kelley

Duke University - Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Beth A. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: January 17, 2019


In recent decades, IGOs, NGOs, private firms and even states have begun to regularly package and distribute information on the relative performance of states. From the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index to the Financial Action Task Force blacklist, Global Performance Indicators (GPIs) are increasingly deployed to influence governance globally. We argue that GPIs derive influence from their ability to frame issues, extend the authority of the creator, and—most importantly—to invoke recurrent comparison that stimulate governments' concerns for their own and their country's reputation. Their public and ongoing ratings and rankings of states are particularly adept at capturing attention not only at elite policy levels but also among other domestic and transnational actors. GPIs thus raise new questions for research on politics and governance globally. What are the social and political effects of this form of information on discourse, policies and behavior? What types of actors can effectively wield GPIs and on what types of issues? In this symposium introduction, we define GPIs, describe their rise, and theorize and discuss these questions in light of the findings of the symposium contributions.

Keywords: International governmental & non-governmental organizations, globalization, performance evaluation, measurement, quantitative metrics, status, reputation, competition, public opinion, advocacy, Millennium Development Goals, MDG, Aid Transparency Index, AT

Suggested Citation

Kelley, Judith Green and Simmons, Beth A., Introduction: The Power of Global Performance Indicators (January 17, 2019). International Organization, Forthcoming; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-06. Available at SSRN:

Judith Green Kelley

Duke University - Trinity College of Arts & Sciences ( email )

Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Beth A. Simmons (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
7817990076 (Phone)

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