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Diffusion Across International Organizations: Connectivity and Convergence

  • Thomas Sommerer and Jonas Tallberg
Abstract

While extensive research shows that policies and institutions spread across states through processes of diffusion, we know little about diffusion among international organizations (IOs). We develop a novel approach for the study of diffusion among IOs. This approach consists of three components: a theoretical focus on connectivity among IOs as pathways for diffusion; a conceptual differentiation between alternative types of convergence effects; and a methodological strategy combining dyadic and spatial analysis of diffusion. We illustrate the usefulness of this approach through an empirical case: the diffusion of participatory governance arrangements among IOs from 1970 to 2010. The analysis shows that connectivity among IOs contributes to convergence, which typically is manifested through imitation of very specific institutional models. The article's findings have implications both for the study of IOs and for the general study of diffusion.

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Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2013 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association in San Francisco, the 2014 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association in Toronto, and at workshops at the University of Göttingen, Lund University, and Stockholm University. For helpful comments and suggestions, we are particularly grateful to Thomas Biersteker, Anja Jetschke, Barbara Koremenos, Gary Marks, Alexander Ovodenko, Duncan Snidal, and the editors and two anonymous reviewers of IO. The research for this article was conducted in the Transaccess project and the Transdemos program at Stockholm University. We gratefully acknowledge the generous funding provided by the European Research Council and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

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