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NGO Influence in International Organizations: Information, Access and Exchange

  • Jonas Tallberg, Lisa M. Dellmuth, Hans Agné and Andreas Duit

While there is broad consensus that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) sometimes succeed in influencing policy making within international organizations (IOs), there is much less agreement on the factors that make NGO lobbying effective. This article makes two contributions to this debate. First, the determinants of influence among NGOs active in different IOs, issue areas and policy phases are examined. The analysis builds on original survey data of more than 400 NGOs involved in five different IOs, complemented by elite interviews with IO and state officials. Secondly, the article advances a specific argument about how the strategic exchange of information and access between NGOs and IOs increases NGO influence in IOs. This argument, derived from theories of lobbying in American and European politics, is contrasted with three alternative explanations of NGO influence, privileging material resources, transnational networks and public opinion mobilization, and the broader implications of these results for research on NGOs in global governance are explored.

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Department of Political Science, Stockholm University (emails:;;; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University (email: Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Joint Sessions of the ECPR, Antwerp, 10–15 April 2012; the Joint Sessions of the ECPR, Mainz, 11–16 March 2013; the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, San Francisco, 3–6 April 2013; and the Annual Meeting of the Swedish Political Science Association, Stockholm, 2–4 October 2013; as well as workshops and seminars organized by Copenhagen Business School, European University Institute, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionales, Lund University, Stockholm University and Zeppelin University. For helpful comments and suggestions, we are particularly grateful to Jan Beyers, Elisabeth Bloodgood, Thomas Conzelmann, Dirk De Bièvre, Andreas Dür, Liesbet Hooghe, Thomas Risse, Theresa Squatrito, Jens Steffek, Robert Thomson, Anders Uhlin, and to the editor and three anonymous reviewers of BJPolS. The research for this article was funded by the European Research Council (Grant 200971-DII) and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Grant M2007-0399:1-PK). Data replication sets are available at and online appendices are available at

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