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Governing the world at a distance: the practice of global benchmarking

  • ANDRÉ BROOME and JOEL QUIRK
Abstract

Benchmarking practices have rapidly diffused throughout the globe in recent years. This can be traced to their popularity amongst non-state actors, such as civil society organisations and corporate actors, as well as states and international organisations (IOs). Benchmarks serve to both ‘neutralise’ and ‘universalise’ a range of overlapping normative values and agendas, including freedom of speech, democracy, human development, environmental protection, poverty alleviation, ‘modern’ statehood, and ‘free’ markets. The proliferation of global benchmarks in these key areas amounts to a comprehensive normative vision regarding what various types of transnational actors should look like, what they should value, and how they should behave. While individual benchmarks routinely differ in terms of scope and application, they all share a common foundation, with normative values and agendas being translated into numerical representations through simplification and extrapolation, commensuration, reification, and symbolic judgements. We argue that the power of benchmarks chiefly stems from their capacity to create the appearance of authoritative expertise on the basis of forms of quantification and numerical representation. This politics of numbers paves the way for the exercise of various forms of indirect power, or ‘governance at a distance’, for the purposes of either status quo legitimation or political reform.

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We are grateful for financial support from GR:EEN, European Commission Project Number: 266809. Additional funding was provided through a Warwick International Partnership Award with the University of the Witwatersrand on ‘Benchmarking in Global Governance’, the Global Research Priority in Global Governance, and the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. We are grateful for feedback on an earlier version of this article from participants at the ‘Benchmarking in Global Governance’ Research Workshop, University of Warwick, 12–14 March 2014. We greatly appreciate additional comments on more recent drafts from an anonymous reviewer and from the RIS editors, as well as comments from Sarah Bush, Alexandra Homolar, Matthias Kranke, and Ryan Walter.

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1 See the Global Benchmarking Database (N=205), version 1.8, available at: {www.warwick.ac.uk/globalbenchmarking/database} accessed 5 June 2015. We are grateful to Matthias Kranke for research assistance with compiling data on Global Benchmarks.

2 See, for example, Power, Michael, The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); Espeland, Wendy Nelson and Stevens, Mitchell L., ‘A sociology of quantification’, European Journal of Sociology, 49:3 (2008), pp. 401436; Power, Michael, ‘Evaluating the audit explosion’, Law and Policy, 25:3 (2003), pp. 185202.

3 See, for example, Locke, Richard, The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Slaughter, Anne-Marie, A New World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Moyn, Samuel, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012); Büthe, Tim and Mattli, Walter, The New Global Rulers: The Privatization of Regulation in the World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011); Fisher, Angelina, ‘From diagnosing under-immunization to evaluating health care systems: Immunization coverage indicators as a technology of global governance’, in Kevin E. Davis, Angelina Fisher, Benedict Kingsbury, and Sally Engle Merry (eds), Governance by Indicators: Global Power through Quantification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 217246.

4 Snyder, Jack and Cooley, Alexander, ‘Conclusion: Rating the ratings craze: From consumer choice to public policy outcomes’, in Alexander Cooley and Jack Snyder (eds), Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 180182.

5 Berger, Peter and Luckmann, Thomas, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (London: Allen Lane, 1967), p. 78.

6 Espeland, Wendy Nelson and Sauder, Michael, ‘The dynamism of indicators’, in Kevin E. Davis, Angelina Fisher, Benedict Kingsbury, and Sally Engle Merry (eds), Governance by Indicators: Global Power through Quantification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 91.

7 Djelic, Marie-Laure and Sahlin-Andersson, Kerstin, ‘Introduction: a world of governance – the rise of transnational regulation’, in Marie-Laure Djelic and Kerstin Sahlin-Andersson (eds), Transnational Governance: Institutional Dynamics of Regulation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 4; see also Adler, Emanuel and Pouliot, Vincent, ‘International practices: Introduction and framework’, in Emanuel Adler and Vincent Pouliot (eds), International Practices (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 78.

8 Herrera, Yoshiko M., Mirrors of the Economy: National Accounts and International Norms in Russia and Beyond (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010); Fioramonti, Lorenzo, Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number (London: Zed Books, 2013); Mügge, Daniel, ‘Fickle formulas: Towards a political economy of macroeconomic measurements’, Journal of European Public Policy, forthcoming.

9 Kelley, Judith G., Monitoring Democracy: When International Election Observation Works, and Why It Often Fails (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012); see Homolar, Alexandra, ‘Human security benchmarks: Governing human wellbeing at a distance’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015), pp. 843863.

10 Larner, Wendy and Heron, Richard Le, ‘Global benchmarking: Participating “at a distance” in the globalizing economy’, in Wendy Larner and William Walters (eds), Global Governmentality: Governing International Spaces (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004), pp. 212232.

11 Dutta, Nikhil K., ‘Accountability in the generation of governance indicators’, in Kevin E. Davis, Angelina Fisher, Benedict Kingsbury, and Sally Engle Merry (eds), Governance by Indicators: Global Power through Quantification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 437464.

12 See LeBaron, Genevieve and Lister, Jane, ‘Benchmarking global supply chains: the power of the “ethical audit” regime’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015), pp. 905924.

13 Raworth, Kate, ‘Measuring human rights’, Ethics and International Affairs, 15:1 (2001), pp. 111131; Fukuda-Parr, Sakiko, ‘Millennium development goal 8: Indicators for international human rights obligations?’, Human Rights Quarterly, 28:4 (2006), pp. 966997.

14 Fougner, Tore, ‘Neoliberal governance of states: the role of competitiveness indexing and country benchmarking’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 37:2 (2008), pp. 303326.

15 Larmour, Peter, ‘Civilizing techniques: Transparency international and the spread of anti-corruption’, in Brett Bowden and Leonard Seabrooke (eds), Global Standards of Market Civilization (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), pp. 95106; Langbein, Laura and Knack, Stephen, ‘The worldwide governance indicators: Six, one, or none?’, Journal of Development Studies, 46:2 (2010), pp. 350370; Heywood, Paul M. and Rose, Jonathan, ‘“Close but no cigar”: the measurements of corruption’, Journal of Public Policy, 34:3 (2014), pp. 507529.

16 Giannone, Diego, ‘Political and ideological aspects in the measurement of democracy: the Freedom House case’, Democratization, 17:1 (2010), pp. 6897.

17 Vetterlein, Antje, ‘Seeing like the World Bank on poverty’, New Political Economy, 17:1 (2012), pp. 3558.

18 Bhuta, Nehal, ‘Governmentalizing sovereignty: Indexes of state fragility and the calculability of political order’, in Kevin E. Davis, Angelina Fisher, Benedict Kingsbury, and Sally Engle Merry (eds), Governance by Indicators: Global Power Through Quantification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 132162.

19 See the various contributions to Cooley, Alexander and Snyder, Jack (eds), Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); see also Kelley, Judith G. and Simmons, Beth A., ‘Politics by number: Indicators as social pressure in International Relations’, American Journal of Political Science, 59:1 (2015), pp. 5570.

20 See, for example, Risse, Thomas, Ropp, Stephen, and Sikkink, Kathryn (eds), The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Finnemore, Martha and Sikkink, Kathryn, ‘International norm dynamics and political change’, International Organization, 52:4 (1998), pp. 887917; Abdelal, Rawi, Blyth, Mark, and Parsons, Craig (eds), Constructing the International Economy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010); Park, Susan and Vetterlein, Antje (eds), Owning Development: Creating Policy Norms in the IMF and the World Bank (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); Betts, Alexander and Orchard, Phil (eds), Implementation and World Politics: How International Norms Change Practices (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

21 See, for example, Carpenter, Charli, ‘Studying issue (non)-adoption in transnational advocacy networks’, International Organization, 61:3 (2007), pp. 643667; Carpenter, Charli, ‘Setting the advocacy agenda: Issues and non-issues around children and armed conflict’, International Studies Quarterly, 51:1 (2007), pp. 99120.

22 See Carpenter, Charli, Lost Causes: Agenda-Setting and Agenda-Vetting in Global Issue Networks (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014); Bob, Clifford, The Marketing of Rebellion: Insurgents, Media, and International Activism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Wong, Wendy, Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012).

23 Gourevitch, Peter A., Lake, David A., and Gross Stein, Janice (eds), The Credibility of Transnational NGOs: When Virtue is Not Enough (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Brown, L. David, Creating Credibility: Legitimacy and Accountability for Transnational Civil Society (London: Kumarian Press, 2008).

24 May, Peter J., Koski, Chris, and Stramp, Nicholas, ‘Issue expertise in policymaking’, Journal of Public Policy, DOI: 10.1017/S0143814X14000233; see also Seabrooke, Leonard, ‘Epistemic arbitrage: Transnational professional knowledge in action’, Journal of Professions and Organizations, 1:1 (2014), pp. 4964.

25 Gutterman, Ellen, ‘The legitimacy of transnational NGOs: Lessons from the experience of transparency international in Germany and France’, Review of International Studies, 40:2 (2014), pp. 391418; see also Seabrooke, Leonard and Wigan, Duncan, ‘How activists use benchmarks: Reformist and revolutionary benchmarks for global economic justice’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015), pp. 887904. Sending, Ole Jacob, The Politics of Expertise: Competing for Authority in Global Governance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015), p. 12.

26 Bennett, Lance and Segerberg, Alexandra, The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the Personalization of Contentious Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

27 This has also been a major theme of work in cognate fields, such as Law. See Davis, Kevin E., Kingsburgy, Benedict, and Engle Merry, Sally, ‘Introduction: the local-global life of indicators: Law, power, and resistance’, in Sally Engle Merry, Kevin E. Davis, and Benedict Kingsbury (eds), The Quiet Power of Indicators: Measuring Governance, Corruption, and Rule of Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 124.

28 Löwenheim, Oded, ‘Examining the state: a Foucauldian perspective on international “governance indicators”’, Third World Quarterly, 29:2 (2008), pp. 255274; Best, Jacqueline, Governing Failure: Provisional Expertise and the Transformation of Global Development Finance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Barnett, Michael and Finnemore, Martha, Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004).

29 Ban, Cornel, Ruling Ideas: How Global Economic Paradigms Go Local (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); Broome, André and Seabrooke, Leonard, ‘Shaping policy curves: Cognitive authority in transnational capacity building’, Public Administration, doi: 10.1111/padm.12179; Sending, The Politics of Expertise.

30 Sharman, J. C., ‘Power and discourse in policy diffusion: Anti-money laundering in developing states’, International Studies Quarterly, 52:3 (2008), pp. 635656; Kelley and Simmons, ‘Politics by number’.

31 Koremenos, Barbara, Lipson, Charles, and Snidal, Duncan, ‘The rational design of international institutions’, International Organization, 55:4 (2001), p. 781; see also Jupille, Joseph, Mattli, Walter, and Snidal, Duncan, Institutional Choice and Global Commerce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

32 See LeBaron and Lister, ‘Benchmarking global supply chains’; Harrison, James and Sekalala, Sharifah, ‘Addressing the compliance gap? UN initiatives to benchmark the human rights performance of states and corporations’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015), pp. 925945.

33 See Porter, Tony, ‘Global benchmarking networks: the cases of disaster risk reduction and supply chains’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015); Clegg, Liam, ‘Benchmarking and blame games: Exploring the contestation of the Millennium Development Goals’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015); Kuzemko, Caroline, ‘Climate change benchmarking: Constructing a sustainable future?’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015), all in this Special Issue.

34 Death, Carl, ‘Governmentality at the limits of the international: African politics and Foucauldian theory’, Review of International Studies, 39:3 (2013), p. 768; see also Sending, Ole Jacob and Neumann, Iver B., ‘Governance to governmentality: Analyzing NGOs, states, and power’, International Studies Quarterly, 50:3 (2006), pp. 651672.

35 Governmentality approaches are based on the work of Michel Foucault, see Fougner, ‘Neoliberal governance of states’; Joseph, Jonathan, ‘The limits of governmentality: Social theory and the international’, European Journal of International Relations, 16:2 (2010), pp. 223246; Vrasti, Wanda, ‘Universal but not truly “global”: Governmentality, economic liberalism, and the international’, Review of International Studies, 39:1 (2013), pp. 4969.

36 Neumann, Iver B. and Sending, Ole Jacob, Governing the Global Polity: Practice, Mentality, Rationality (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), p. 10; see also Dean, Mitchell, Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2009).

37 See also Freistein, Katja, ‘Effects of indicator use: a comparison of poverty measuring instruments at the World Bank’, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, DOI:10.1080/13876988.2015.1023053.

38 See, for example, Larner and Le Heron, ‘Global benchmarking’; Fougner, ‘Neoliberal governance of states’.

39 Joseph, , ‘The limits of governmentality’, p. 243.

40 Neumann, and Sending, , Governing the Global Polity, p. 66; Fioramonti, Lorenzo, How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics (London: Zed Books, 2014); Sending, The Politics of Expertise.

41 Barnett, Michael and Duvall, Raymond, ‘Power in international politics’, International Organization, 59:1 (2005), pp. 3975.

42 Simplification and extrapolation, commensuration, reification, and symbolic judgement are distinct components of the larger process of global benchmarking, rather than sequential phases.

43 Espeland, Wendy Nelson and Stevens, Mitchell L., ‘Commensuration as a social process’, Annual Review of Sociology, 24 (1998), p. 315.

44 Ibid., p. 316.

45 Fioramonti, , How Numbers Rule the World, p. 192.

46 Andreas, Peter and Greenhill, Kelly M., ‘Introduction: the politics of numbers’, in Peter Andreas and Kelly M. Greenhill (eds), Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010), p. 17.

47 Porter, Theodore M., Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), p. 86.

48 Simmons, Beth A., ‘Compliance with international agreements’, Annual Review of Political Science, 1 (1998), p. 77.

49 Davis, Kevin E., Kingsbury, Benedict, and Engle Merry, Sally, ‘Indicators as a technology of global governance’, Law and Society Review, 46:1 (2012), p. 76.

50 Barnett, and Duvall, , ‘Power in international politics’, p. 43.

51 Kelley, , Monitoring Democracy, p. 23.

52 This inward attribution of Western success is explored further in Hobson, John, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); see also Suzuki, Shogo, Civilization and Empire: China and Japan’s Encounter with European International Society (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009); on the assessment of ‘legitimacy’ in terms of Western policy standards, see Rethel, Lena, ‘Whose legitimacy? Islamic finance and the global financial order’, Review of International Political Economy, 18:5 (2011), pp. 7598.

53 See Sending, Ole Jacob and Harald Sanders Lie, Jon, ‘The limits of global authority: How the World Bank benchmarks economies in Ethiopia and Malawi’, Review of International Studies, 41:5 (2015), pp. 9931010.

54 Cooley, Alexander, ‘The emerging politics of international ranks and ratings: a framework for analysis’, in Alexander Cooley and Jack Snyder (eds), Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p. 4.

55 Espeland, Wendy Nelson and Sauder, Michael, ‘Rankings and reactivity: How public measures recreate social worlds’, American Journal of Sociology, 113:1 (2007), p. 6.

56 Sharman, J. C., ‘The bark is the bite: International organizations and blacklisting’, Review of International Political Economy, 16:4 (2009), pp. 573596.

57 Sharman, J. C., Havens in a Storm: The Struggle for Global Tax Regulation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006), p. 104.

58 Homolar, Alexandra, ‘Rebels without a conscience: the evolution of the rogue states narrative in US security policy’, European Journal of International Relations, 14:4 (2010), pp. 705727.

59 Weisband, Edward, ‘Discursive multilateralism: Global benchmarks, shame, and learning in the ILO labor standards monitoring regime’, International Studies Quarterly, 44:4 (2000), pp. 643666.

60 Schneider, Anne and Ingram, Helen, ‘Social construction of target populations: Implications for politics and policy’, American Political Science Review, 87:2 (1993), p. 339.

61 Reuter, Peter and Truman, Edwin M., Chasing Dirty Money: The Fight Against Money Laundering (Washington, DC: International Institute of Economics, 2004), p. 22, available at: {www.piie.com/publications/chapters_preview/381/2iie3705.pdf} accessed 20 June 2014.

62 Büthe, Tim, ‘Beyond supply and demand: a politico-economic conceptual model’, in Kevin E. Davis, Angelina Fisher, Benedict Kingsbury, and Sally Engle Merry (eds), Governance by Indicators: Global Power Through Quantification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 51; see also Quirk, Joel, ‘The anti-slavery project: Linking the historical and the contemporary’, Human Rights Quarterly, 28:3 (2006), p. 576.

63 Larner, Wendy and Walters, William, ‘Globalization as governmentality’, Alternatives, 29:5 (2004), p. 496; see also Broome, André and Seabrooke, Leonard, ‘Seeing like an international organisation’, New Political Economy, 17:1 (2012), pp. 116.

64 On the construction of typologies see George, Alexander L. and Bennett, Andrew, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), pp. 237238.

65 Eriksen, Stein Sundstøl and Sending, Ole Jacob, ‘There is no global public: the idea of the public and the legitimation of governance’, International Theory, 5:2 (2013), pp. 213237.

66 Sinclair, Timothy J., The New Masters of Capital: American Bond Rating Agencies and the Politics of Creditworthiness (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005).

67 Larner and Le Haron, ‘Global benchmarking’.

68 Nye, Joseph S., Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York: Public Affairs, 2004).

69 {http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/} accessed 11 July 2014.

70 Gallagher, Anne, ‘Trafficking in Persons Report (Review)’, Human Rights Quarterly, 23:4 (2001), pp. 11361137; Gallagher, Anne, ‘Improving the effectiveness of the international law of human trafficking: a vision for the future of the US Trafficking in Persons Reports’, Human Rights Review, 12:3 (2011), pp. 381400.

72 Chuang, Janie, ‘The United States as global sheriff: Using unilateral sanctions to combat human trafficking’, Michigan Journal of International Law, 27:2 (2006), pp. 437494; Bunting, Annie and Quirk, Joel, ‘Contemporary slavery as more than rhetorical strategy’, in Annie Bunting and Joel Quirk, The Invention of Contemporary Slavery: Studies in Rhetoric and Practice (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2016).

73 Gallagher, , ‘Improving the effectiveness of the international law of human trafficking’, pp. 382384.

74 Chuang, , ‘The United States as global sheriff’, pp. 456457.

75 Weitzer, Ronald, ‘New directions in research on human trafficking’, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653:1 (2014), pp. 624; Steinfatt, Thomas, ‘Sex trafficking in Cambodia: Fabricated numbers versus empirical evidence’, Crime, Law, and Social Change, 56:5 (2011), pp. 443462.

76 Kelley, and Simmons, , ‘Politics by number’, p. 68.

77 See, for example, the articles in ‘Beyond Trafficking and Slavery’, openDemocracy, available at: {https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery} accessed 3 June 2015.

78 See Broome, André and Seabrooke, Leonard, ‘Seeing like the IMF: Institutional change in small open economies’, Review of International Political Economy, 14:4 (2007), pp. 576601; Clegg, Liam, ‘Our dream is a world full of poverty indicators: the US, the World Bank, and the power of numbers’, New Political Economy, 15:4 (2010), pp. 473492; Löwenheim, ‘Examining the state’.

79 Langbein, and Knack, , ‘The worldwide governance indicators’, pp. 369370.

80 Ibid., p. 351.

81 Kraay, Aart, Kaufmann, Daniel, and Mastruzzi, Massimo, ‘The worldwide governance indicators: Methodology and analytical issues’, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5430 (2010), p. 4, emphasis in original, available at: {http://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/pdf/10.1596/1813-9450-5430} accessed 15 July 2014.

82 Walle, Steven van de, ‘The state of the world’s bureaucracies’, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 8:4 (2006), pp. 439440.

83 Thomas, M. A., ‘What do the worldwide governance indicators measure?’, European Journal of Development Research, 22:1 (2010), p. 50, emphasis added.

84 Thomas, , ‘What do the worldwide governance indicators measure?’, p. 32.

85 Abdelal, Rawi and Blyth, Mark, ‘Just who put you in charge? We did’, in Alexander Cooley and Jack Snyder (eds), Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p. 46.

86 Fioramonti, , How Numbers Rule the World, pp. 6061.

87 Standard and Poor’s, Sovereign Government Rating Methodology and Assumptions (New York: Standard and Poor’s, 2011) available at: {www.standardandpoors.com/ratings/articles/en/us/?articleType=PDF&assetID=124531655404} accessed 15 July 2014.

88 Sinclair, , The New Masters of Capital, p. 176.

89 Paudyn, Bartholomew, ‘Credit rating agencies and the sovereign debt crisis: Performing the politics of creditworthiness through risk and uncertainty’, Review of International Political Economy, 20:4 (2013), pp. 799800.

90 Bush, Sarah, The Taming of Democracy Assistance: Why Democracy Promotion Does Not Confront Dictators (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p. 14.

91 Fund for Peace, Failed States Index 2014: Somalia Displaced as Most-Fragile State, available at: {http://library.fundforpeace.org/fsi14-overview} accessed 15 July 2014.

92 Fund for Peace, Press Release: Fragile States Index 2014 Released, available at: {http://library.fundforpeace.org/fsi14-pressrelease} accessed 3 June 2015.

93 Messner, J. J. (ed.), Failed States Index 2014 (Washington: Global Fund for Peace, 2014), available at: {http://library.fundforpeace.org/library/cfsir1423-fragilestatesindex2014-06d.pdf} accessed 10 July 2014, p. 3.

94 Messner, , Failed States Index, p. 9.

95 Call, Charles, ‘The fallacy of the “failed state”’, Third World Quarterly, 29:8 (2008), pp. 14911507; Gordon, Ruth, ‘Saving failed states: Sometimes a neocolonialist notion’, American University International Law Review, 12:6 (1997), pp. 903974; Nay, Olivier, ‘International organisations and the production of hegemonic knowledge: How the World Bank and the OECD helped invent the fragile state concept’, Third World Quarterly, 35:2 (2014), pp. 210231.

96 Cassese, Sabino and Casini, Lorenzo, ‘Public regulation of global indicators’, in Kevin E. Davis, Angelina Fisher, Benedict Kingsbury, and Sally Engle Merry (eds), Governance by Indicators: Global Power through Quantification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 468469.

97 Homolar, ‘Benchmarking human security’; see also Bradley, Christopher G., ‘International organizations and the production of indicators: the case of Freedom House’, in Sally Engle Merry, Kevin E. Davis, and Benedict Kingsbury (eds), The Quiet Power of Indicators: Measuring Governance, Corruption, and Rule of Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 2774.

* We are grateful for financial support from GR:EEN, European Commission Project Number: 266809. Additional funding was provided through a Warwick International Partnership Award with the University of the Witwatersrand on ‘Benchmarking in Global Governance’, the Global Research Priority in Global Governance, and the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. We are grateful for feedback on an earlier version of this article from participants at the ‘Benchmarking in Global Governance’ Research Workshop, University of Warwick, 12–14 March 2014. We greatly appreciate additional comments on more recent drafts from an anonymous reviewer and from the RIS editors, as well as comments from Sarah Bush, Alexandra Homolar, Matthias Kranke, and Ryan Walter.

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