The Relevance of Political Science
Edited by Sören Holmberg and Bo Rothstein
Chapter 9: Do International Organizations Promote Quality of Government?
Monika Bauhr and Naghmeh Nasiritousi In 1998, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan identified good governance as “perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development” (Annan 1998). Following the growing consensus on the detrimental effects of bad government institutions (Mauro 1995; Evans and Rauch 1999; OECD 2001; Rothstein and Teorell 2008), several international organizations (IOs) have undertaken the task to address problems of bad quality of government (QoG) in member states as a matter of urgency. By virtue of their political and economic strengths, IOs are often expected to have the means to spread norms of appropriate behavior. However, the evidence presented so far on successes in this field has been mixed. While broad empirical studies have confirmed the link between international integration and reduced levels of corruption (Sandholtz and Gray 2003), numerous case studies fail to find a positive link between IO engagement and better government institutions (Kelley 2004; Schimmelfennig 2005). One reason for this is the lack of systematic understanding of the different pitfalls that IOs may encounter when engaging with member states. Past studies have explained failures in IOs’ strategies by looking at conditions at the recipient end of the targeted action. Thus the focus has predominantly been on hampering circumstances within the member country, such as lack of political will or the weakness of institutions (Dollar and Svensson 2000). While such explanations are in many cases important, they are inadequate for explaining failures by IOs to promote norms. This is because it is a...
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