Who Gets to Live Forever? An Institutional Theory on the Life and Death of International Organizations
Paper prepared for the ECPR Joint Sessions, Mons, 8-12 April 2019.
21 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 8, 2019
International organizations do not live forever. Recent empirical studies show that around 39% of international organizations created since 1815 have formally died. Yet we know, in fact, little about their decline and death. This is surprising as it is well-known that different forms of governance -- city-states, great powers, public agencies, alliances and others -- have a life-cycle. Building on recent empirical studies, this paper provides a conceptual and theoretical perspective on the decline and death of international organizations. It embeds debate on decline and death in the broader academic literature on the life-cycle of different governance arrangements. Building on research about the design and development of international organizations, it outlines an institutional theory on the decline and death. An institutional theory helps us to understand why, subject to similar external pressures, some international organizations decline and die where others survive.
Keywords: international organizations, governance, life-cycle, death, institutional theory
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