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Institutional sources of legitimacy for international organisations: Beyond procedure versus performance

  • Lisa Maria Dellmuth (a1), Jan Aart Scholte (a2) and Jonas Tallberg (a3)

Abstract

This article addresses a significant gap in the literature on legitimacy in global governance, exploring whether, in what ways, and to what extent institutional qualities of international organisations (IOs) matter for popular legitimacy beliefs towards these bodies. The study assesses the causal significance of procedure and performance as sources of legitimacy, unpacks these dimensions into specific institutional qualities, and offers a comparative analysis across IOs in three issue areas of global governance. Theoretically, the article disaggregates institutional sources of legitimacy to consider democratic, technocratic, and fair qualities of procedure and performance. Empirically, it examines the effects of these institutional qualities through a population-based survey experiment in four countries in different world regions with respect to IOs in economic, security, and climate governance. The findings demonstrate that both procedure- and performance-related aspects of IO policymaking matter for popular legitimacy beliefs. This result holds across democratic, technocratic, and fair qualities of IO procedure and performance. Disaggregating the results by issue area indicates that a broader scope of institutional qualities are important for legitimacy beliefs in economic governance compared to security governance and, especially, climate governance. These findings suggest that propositions to reduce the institutional sources of IO legitimacy to single specific qualities would be misguided.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: jonas.tallberg@statsvet.su.se

References

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6 Bernauer and Gampfer, ‘Effects of civil society involvement’; Binder, Martin and Heupel, Monica, ‘The legitimacy of the UN Security Council: Evidence from recent General Assembly debates’, International Studies Quarterly, 59:2 (2015), pp. 238–50; Dellmuth, Lisa M. and Tallberg, Jonas, ‘The social legitimacy of international organisations: Interest representation, institutional performance, and confidence extrapolation in the United Nations’, Review of International Studies, 41:3 (2015), pp. 451–75.

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9 Steffek, Jens, ‘The legitimation of international governance: a discourse approach’, European Journal of International Relations, 9:2 (2003), pp. 249–75; Buchanan and Keohane, ‘The legitimacy of global governance institutions’; Beetham, David, The Legitimation of Power (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

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14 O'Brien, Robert, Goetz, Anne Marie, Scholte, Jan Aart, and Williams, Marc, Contesting Global Governance: Multilateral Economic Institutions and Global Social Movements (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Porta, Donatella Della and Tarrow, Sidney G., Transnational Protest and Global Activism (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).

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17 Bernauer and Gampfer, ‘Effects of civil society involvement’; Binder and Heupel, ‘The legitimacy of the UN Security Council’; Dellmuth and Tallberg, ‘The social legitimacy of international organisations’; Tallberg and Zürn, ‘The legitimacy and legitimation of international organizations’.

18 Weber, Economy and Society.

19 Bernauer and Gampfer, ‘Effects of civil society involvement’.

20 Johnson, Tana, ‘Guilt by association: the link between states’ influence and the legitimacy of intergovernmental organizations’, Review of International Organizations, 6:1 (2011), pp. 5784.

21 Gabel, Matthew J., ‘Economic integration and mass politics: Market liberalization and public attitudes in the European Union’, American Journal of Political Science, 42:3 (1998), pp. 936–53; Hooghe and Marks, ‘Calculation, community and cues’; Rohrschneider, Robert and Loveless, Matthew, ‘Macro salience: How economic and political contexts mediate popular evaluations of the democracy deficit in the European Union’, Journal of Politics, 72:4 (2010), pp. 1029–45.

22 Edwards, ‘Public support for the international economic organizations’.

23 Binder and Heupel, ‘The legitimacy of the UN Security Council’; Dellmuth and Tallberg, ‘The social legitimacy of international organisations’; Brilé Anderson, Thomas Bernauer, and Aya Kachi, ‘Does international pooling of authority affect the perceived legitimacy of global governance?’, Review of International Organizations (2018), pp. 1–23, Online First, available at: {https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-018-9341-4}.

24 Edwards, ‘Public support for the international economic organizations’; Schlipphak, Bernd, ‘Measuring attitudes toward regional organizations outside Europe’, Review of International Organizations, 10:3 (2015), pp. 351–75.

25 Lisa M. Dellmuth, ‘Individual sources of legitimacy beliefs: Theory and data’, in Tallberg, Bäckstrand, and Scholte (eds), Legitimacy in Global Governance, pp. 37–55.

26 Scharpf, Governing in Europe.

27 See also Tallberg and Zürn, ‘The legitimacy and legitimation of international organizations’.

28 Fischer, Frank, Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise (London: Sage, 1989).

29 For an exception, see Hurd, After Anarchy.

30 Bernstein, Steven, ‘Legitimacy in global environmental governance’, International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, 1:1 (2005), pp. 152–6.

31 Scott, W. Richard, ‘Unpacking institutional arguments’, in Powell, Walter W. and DiMaggio, Paul J. (eds), The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1991), p. 169; Lenz, Tobias and Viola, Lora A., ‘Legitimacy and institutional change in international organizations: a cognitive approach’, Review of International Studies, 43:5 (2017), pp. 939–61.

32 Scholte, Jan Aart, ‘Towards greater legitimacy in global governance’, Review of International Political Economy, 18:1 (2011), pp. 110–20.

33 Ameli, Saied R., ‘The Organization of Islamic Conference, accountability and civil society’, in Scholte, Jan Aart (ed.), Building Global Democracy: Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 146–62.

34 Held, David, Democracy and the Global Order: From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995).

35 De Cremer, David and Tyler, Tom R., ‘The effects of trust in authority and procedural fairness on cooperation’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 92:3 (2007), pp. 639–49.

36 Skitka, Linda, ‘Do the means always justify the ends or do the ends sometimes justify the means? A value protection model of justice reasoning’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28 (2002), pp. 588–97; Dohertly, David and Wolak, Jennifer, ‘When do the ends justify the means? Evaluating procedural fairness’, Political Behavior, 34 (2012), pp. 301–23; Peter Esaiasson, Mikael Persson, Mikael Gilljam, and Torun Lindholm, ‘Reconsidering the role of procedures for decision acceptance’, British Journal of Political Science (2016), pp. 1–24.

37 Lind, E. Allan and Tyler, Tom R., The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice (New York: Plenum Press, 1988); Tyler, Tom R., Why People Obey the Law: Procedural Justice, Legitimacy, and Compliance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990); Tyler, Tom R., Boeckmann, Robert J., Smith, Heather J., and Huo, Yuen J., Social Justice in a Diverse Society (Boulder: Westview Press, 1997).

38 Macdonald, Terry, Global Stakeholder Democracy: Power and Representation beyond Liberal States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); Steffek, Jens, Kissling, Claudia, and Nanz, Patrizia (eds), Civil Society Participation in European and Global Governance: A Cure for the Democratic Deficit? (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007).

39 Scholte, Jan Aart (ed.), Building Global Democracy? Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Tallberg, Jonas, ‘Transparency’, in Cogan, Jacob K., Hurd, Ian, and Johnstone, Ian (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 11701192.

40 See, for example, Held, Democracy and the Global Order; Bernstein, Steven, ‘Legitimacy in intergovernmental and non-state global governance’, Review of International Political Economy, 18:1 (2011), pp. 1751.

41 Bernauer and Gampfer, ‘Effects of civil society involvement’.

42 Della Porta and Tarrow, Transnational Protest and Global Activism; Norris, Pippa, Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

43 Pevehouse, Jon C., Democracy from Above: Regional Organizations and Democratization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Keohane, Robert O., Macedo, Stephen, and Moravcsik, Andrew, ‘Democracy-enhancing multilateralism’, International Organization, 63:1 (2009), pp. 131.

44 Liesbet Hooghe, Tobias Lenz, and Gary Marks, ‘Contested world order: the delegitimation of international governance’, Review of International Organizations (2018), pp. 1–13, Online First, available at: {https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-018-9334-3}.

45 Inglehart, Ronald and Norris, Pippa, ‘Trump and populist-authoritarian parties: the silent revolution in reverse’, Perspectives on Politics, 15:2 (2017), pp. 443–54.

46 Hardt, Heidi, Time to React: The Efficiency of International Organizations in Crisis Response (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Tallberg, Jonas, Sommerer, Thomas, Squatrito, Theresa, and Lundgren, Magnus, ‘The performance of international organizations: a policy output approach’, Journal of European Public Policy, 23:7 (2016), pp. 1077–96.

47 Majone, Giandomenico, ‘Europe's “democratic deficit”: the question of standards’, European Law Journal, 4:1 (1998), pp. 528; Bernstein, ‘Legitimacy in global environmental governance’.

48 Chan, Gabriel, Carraro, Carlo, Edenhofer, Ottmar, Kolstad, Charles, and Stavins, Robert, ‘Reforming the IPCC's assessment of climate change economics’, Climate Change Economics, 7:1 (2016), 164001, pp. 116.

49 Reus-Smit, Christian, ‘International crises of legitimacy’, International Politics, 44 (2007), pp. 157–74.

50 Keohane, Robert O., After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984); Scharpf, Governing in Europe.

51 Lindberg, Leon N. and Scheingold, Stuart A., Europe's Would-Be Polity: Patterns of Change in the European Community (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1970).

52 Keohane, After Hegemony.

53 Ecker-Ehrhardt, Matthias, ‘Why do citizens want the UN to decide? Cosmopolitan ideas, particularism and global authority’, International Political Science Review, 37:1 (2016), pp. 99114; Dellmuth and Tallberg, ‘The social legitimacy of international organisations’.

54 Helfer, Laurence R. and Schowalter, Anne E., ‘Opposing international justice: Kenya's integrated backlash strategy against the ICC’, iCourts Working Paper Series, 83 (2017), pp. 152.

55 Tyler, Why People Obey the Law.

56 O'Brien et al., Contesting Global Governance; Della Porta and Tarrow, Transnational Protest and Global Activism; Scholte, Jan Aart, Fioramonti, Lorenzo, and Nhema, Alfred G. (eds), New Rules for Global Justice: Structural Redistribution in the Global Economy (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016).

57 Gabel and Scheve, ‘Estimating the effect of elite communications’, pp. 1014–16; Mutz, Population-Based Survey Experiments, ch. 2.

58 Mutz, Population-Based Survey Experiments, ch. 1.

59 Berinsky, Adam J., Huber, Gregory A., and Lenz, Gabriel S., ‘Evaluating online labor markets for experimental research: Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk’, Political Analysis, 20:3 (2012), pp. 351–68.

60 Kreuter, Frauke, Presser, Stanley, and Tourangeau, Roger, ‘Social desirability bias in CATI, IVR, and web surveys: the effects of mode and question sensitivity’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 72:5 (2008), pp. 847–65.

61 YouGov invited people in the sample to participate through email, informing the respondents about the length of the study and offering monetary incentives. YouGov's incentive programme is points-based. Point values are determined by survey length and are allocated upon survey completion. Respondents are able to use these points either for entries into prize draws or toward a cash payment.

62 Ansolabehere, Stephen and Rivers, Douglas, ‘Cooperative survey research’, Annual Review of Political Science, 16 (2013), pp. 307–29; Ansolabehere, Stephen and Schaffner, Brian F., ‘Does survey mode still matter? Findings from a 2010 multi-mode comparison’, Political Analysis, 22:3 (2014), pp. 285303.

63 Crawford, Carol A. Gotway, ‘Comment’, Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, 1:2 (2013), pp. 118–24; Liu, Honghu, Cella, David, Gershon, Richard, Shen, Jie, Morales, Leo S., Riley, William, and Hays, Ron D., ‘Representativeness of the patient-reported outcomes measurement information system Internet panel’, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 63:11 (2010), pp. 1169–178.

64 See Appendices A and B for the exact wording of questions, and Appendix C in the supplementary material for additional variables provided for the YouGov panels.

65 For the purpose of transparency, Appendix D in the supplementary material reports a series of randomisation checks, also known as balance tests. These tests are based on the responses to 13 additional questions asked in the survey, capturing inter alia political knowledge about global governance and political interest in IOs. The tests check if the randomised allocation of respondents across treatment groups has worked by assessing if there is a statistically significant difference in mean confidence across levels of these variables. The tests reveal only few imbalances, which should not compromise causal inference.

66 Mutz, Population-Based Survey Experiments, p. 9.

67 Ibid., pp. 64–5.

68 Tyler, ‘Psychological perspectives on legitimacy and legitimation’; Chong, Dennis and Druckman, James N., ‘Framing theory’, Annual Review of Political Science, 10 (2007), pp. 103–26.

69 Gallup International Association, Voice of the People (Zürich: Gallup International Association, 2005); Dellmuth, Lisa M., ‘The knowledge gap in world politics: Assessing the sources of citizen awareness of the United Nations Security Council’, Review of International Studies, 42:2 (2016), pp. 673700.

70 See, for example, Caldeira, Gregory A. and Gibson, James L., ‘The legitimacy of the Court of Justice in the European Union: Models of institutional support’, American Political Science Review, 89:2 (1995), pp. 356–76; Inglehart, Ronald, Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Countries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997); Gibson, James L., Caldeira, Gregory A., and Baird, Vanessa A., ‘On the legitimacy of national high courts’, American Political Science Review, 92:2 (1998), pp. 343–58; Norris, Pippa, ‘Confidence in the United Nations: Cosmopolitan and nationalistic attitudes’, in Esmer, Yilmaz and Petterson, Thorleif (eds), The International System, Democracy and Values (Uppsala: Uppsala University Press, 2009); Inglehart, Ronald and Welzel, Christian, Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Bühlmann, Marc and Kunz, Ruth, ‘Confidence in the judiciary: Comparing the independence and legitimacy of judicial systems’, West European Politics, 34:2 (2011), pp. 317–45; Johnson, ‘Guilt by association’; Voeten, Erik, ‘Public opinion and the legitimacy of international courts’, Theoretical Inquiries in Law, 14:2 (2013), pp. 411–36; Dellmuth and Tallberg, ‘The social legitimacy of international organisations’.

71 Hetherington, Marc J., ‘The political relevance of political trust’, American Political Science Review, 92:4 (1998), pp. 791808; Norris, Democratic Deficit.

72 Easton, David, ‘A re-assessment of the concept of political support’, British Journal of Political Science , 5:4 (1975), p. 447.

73 Kahneman, Daniel and Tversky, Amos, ‘Prospect theory: an analysis of decision under risk’, Econometrica, 47:2 (1979), pp. 263–92; Baumeister, Roy F., Bratslavsky, Ellen, Finkenauer, Catrin, and Vohs, Kathleen D., ‘Bad is stronger than good’, Review of General Psychology, 5:4 (2001), pp. 323–70.

74 To estimate the causal effect of institutional qualities on popular confidence in IOs, data have been pooled across the three experimental rounds, so that the observations of confidence in the three institutions are clustered in individuals. Treatment effects are calculated for each of the six institutional qualities by subtracting mean confidence in the treatment groups from mean confidence in the control group. Due to the randomised allocation of respondents across treatment groups, treatment effects can be calculated by using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis, where confidence is regressed as a dependent variable on a dummy variable indicating the treatment (1=treated, 0=not treated). All difference-in-means tests have been performed through OLS regression models using weighted data and robust standard errors clustered at the level of individuals. The discussion interprets both the substantive size of the treatment effects and their statistical significance.

75 Gaines, Brian J. and Kuklinski, James H., ‘Treatment effects’, in Druckman, James N., Green, Donald P., and Lupia, Arthur (eds), Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

76 Held, Democracy and the Global Order; Zürn, ‘Democratic governance beyond the nation-state’; Bernstein, ‘Legitimacy in intergovernmental and non-state global governance’.

77 Lind and Tyler, The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice; Tyler, Why People Obey the Law; Gibson, James L., Caldeira, Gregory A., and Spence, Lester Kenyatta, ‘Why do people accept public policies they oppose? Testing legitimacy theory with a survey-based experiment’, Political Research Quarterly, 58:2 (2005), pp. 187201.

78 Scharpf, Governing in Europe; Hooghe, Liesbet and Marks, Gary, ‘A post-functionalist theory of European integration: From permissive consensus to constraining dissensus’, British Journal of Political Science, 39:1 (2009), pp. 123.

79 Scott, ‘Unpacking institutional arguments’; Lenz and Viola, ‘Legitimacy and institutional change in international organizations’.

80 Tallberg and Zürn, ‘The legitimacy and legitimation of international organizations’.

81 Hooghe et al., Measuring International Authority; Zürn, A Theory of Global Governance.

82 O'Brien et al., Contesting Global Governance; Christian Rauh and Michael Zürn, ‘Endogenous legitimation dynamics in global economic governance: Authority, politicization, and alternative narratives’ (2017), unpublished paper.

83 Binder and Heupel, ‘The legitimacy of the UN Security Council’.

84 Chong and Druckman, ‘Framing theory’.

85 Gallup International Association, Voice of the People.

86 See Appendix F in the supplementary material; also, Mondak, Jeffery, ‘Reconsidering the measurement of political knowledge’, Political Analysis, 8:1 (1999), pp. 5782, on the use of knowledge questions.

87 Bakaki, Zorzeta and Bernauer, Thomas, ‘Do global climate summits influence public awareness and policy preferences concerning climate change?’, Environmental Politics, 26:1 (2017), pp. 126.

89 Hainmueller, Jens, Hangartner, Dominik, and Yamamoto, Teppei, ‘Validating vignette and conjoint survey experiments against real-world behavior’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112:8 (2015), pp. 2395–400.

90 Thomas Bernauer, Steffen Mohrenberg, and Vally Koubi, ‘How Relevant Are Input and Output Performance to Popular Legitimacy in International Governance?’, paper presented at the 10th Annual PEIO conference, Bern, 12–14 January, 2017.

91 Zaum, Dominik (ed.), Legitimating International Organizations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Gronau, J. and Schmidtke, H., ‘The quest for legitimacy in world politics: International institutions’ legitimation strategies’, Review of International Studies, 42:3 (2015), pp. 535–57; Karin Bäckstrand and Fredrik Söderbaum, ‘Legitimation and delegitimation in global governance: Discursive, institutional, and behavioral practices’, in Tallberg, Bäckstrand, and Scholte (eds), Legitimacy in Global Governance, pp. 101–18.

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