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Democratic Intergovernmental Organizations?
Normative Pressures and Decision-Making Rules


  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107089990

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About the Authors
  • This work posits that, over the past two centuries, democratic norms have spread from domestic politics to intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). Grigorescu explores how norms shaped IGO decision-making rules such as those driving state participation, voting, access to information, and the role of NGOs and transnational parliaments. The study emphasizes the role of 'normative pressures' (the interaction between norm strength and the degree to which the status quo strays from norm prescriptions). Using primary and secondary sources to assess the plausibility of its arguments across two centuries and two dozen IGOs, the study focuses on developments in the League of Nations, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization.

    • Uses archival sources, covering two centuries' worth of development in international organizations
    • Focuses on how international organizations have become more democratic, rather than if they should (as opposed to most existing literature)
    • Focuses on a large number of these organizations, highlighting six in particular but examining up to two dozen others as well
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Alex Grigorescu's book is a pioneering contribution on when and how democratic norms influence the institutional design of intergovernmental organizations. Carefully assessing the historical developments of a broad range of organizations, Grigorescu convincingly shows how 'normative bargaining' over democratic standards have changed IGOs. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in institutions, norms, or democracy in global governance.' Jonas Tallberg, Stockholm University, and author of The Opening Up of International Organizations: Transnational Access in Global Governance

    'Grigorescu is asking big questions about global institutions. He is interested in power, legitimacy, representation, and governance at the global level, and he looks closely at the internal processes of international organizations to see how democratic norms are and are not expressed within them. Combining careful attention to powerful international organizations with clear thinking about the development of global norms, this is an important addition to the growing literature on global governance.' Ian Hurd, Northwestern University, Illinois

    'Is the democratic deficit of IGOs being reduced? Alexandru Grigorescu makes a persuasive case that IGOs have slowly, if still only partially, incorporated domestic democratic norms into their own rules. His clear, systematic, and transparent analysis explores how the form and pace of this slow democratic motion is shaped by states and IGOs using strategies to sometimes impede, defuse, and reinterpret such normative pressures. His argument deserves to be looked at closely by scholars and practitioners alike.' Duncan Snidal, University of Oxford

    'Democratic Intergovernmental Organizations? shows how and when pressure to conform to democratic norms has affected the practices of intergovernmental organizations over almost a century. Under normative pressure for organizational reform, states devise strategies to shape normative change in ways consistent with their interests, differentiating among norms. In this measured, deeply researched book, Alexandru Grigorescu makes a major contribution to our understanding of how normative contestation affects intergovernmental organizations.' Robert Keohane, Princeton University, New Jersey and author of After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy

    'Grigorescue's systematic approach and well-organized empirical data help us to understand how for more than a century IGOs have actually been altered in response to calls for greater democracy. The book's eye opener is that in this respect long-term change and evolution are stronger than often is supposed.' Bob Reinalda, Journal of International Organization Studies

    'Scholars and policy makers often stake out positions in these debates without the full set of facts, characterizing particular IGOs based on a truncated set of institutional rules at a single point in time. They have much to learn from Alexandru Grigorescu's insightful new book, which demonstrates how a wide range of IGOs have moved - however haltingly - towards the incorporation of democratic norms in their own rules.' Erin R. Graham, The Journal of Politics

    'Alexandru Grigorescu's Democratic Intergovernmental Organizations? Normative Pressures and Decision-Making Rules advances a powerful argument about the importance of change in the appropriateness of institutions. In so doing, Grigorescu skillfully combines the long-standing debate in constructivist scholarship on the influence of norms in world politics with the growing interest in the sources of the design of IGOs, which has been dominated by rationalist and institutionalist approaches. The book successfully builds bridges across these theoretical approaches by demonstrating convincingly that what he terms 'normative pressure' shapes the design of IGOs' rules.' Tobias Lenz, The Review of International Organizations

    'Democratic Intergovernmental Organizations? is a worthy and stimulating read and deserves to sit on the shelf with central works on international organizations.' Theresa Squatrito, Perspectives on Politics

    'Grigorescu's tome is as scientific as political sciences can be. We, the 'practitioners', hope to see him continue to navigate the unchartered waters of democracy, as practiced inside intergovernmental organizations, with the same compass of high precision. I trust he can go deeper and farther under the same auspicious question mark.' Petru Dumitriu, Diplo

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107089990
    • length: 332 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 35 b/w illus. 5 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: 'democratic' intergovernmental organizations
    2. Normative pressures and strategies for defusing them
    3. Fair state participation
    4. Fair voting
    5. Transparency
    6. Participation of nongovernmental actors in intergovernmental organizations
    7. Transnational parliamentary oversight
    8. Conclusions: summarizing and interpreting the main trends.

  • Author

    Alexandru Grigorescu, Loyola University, Chicago
    Alexandru Grigorescu is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Loyola University, Chicago. His research has been published in numerous journals such as International Studies Quarterly, the Review of International Organizations, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Ethics and International Affairs. Prior to his academic career, between 1992 and 1997, he served as a diplomat in the Romanian Foreign Ministry and was posted at the Romanian Mission to the United Nations in New York.

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