Collective Agency of Horizontal Regulatory Organizations in Global Environmental and Financial Market Governance (GloReg)

The project will elaborate theoretically and investigate empirically whether and how horizontal regulatory organizations in two important areas of global politics – environmental protection and financial market regulation – gain collective agency along the dimensions of decision-making authority and autonomy. We will theorize mechanisms of autonomy-generation and authority acquisition and subject them to an empirical test in a mixed methods design. Both policy fields are characterized by the presence of numerous specialized, international or transnational governance institutions, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and its Paris Agreement, the Basel Committee of Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).

 

These institutions are authorized to produce and administer rules, but, in contrast to full-fledged international organizations, lack powerful bureaucracies and are dominated by their members. In line with James Coleman’s resource-based theory of corporate action, we argue that these horizontal organizations become actors in their own right like any other organization and can acquire autonomy (a specific organizational rationale), despite close control by their members.

 

The project has three objectives: First, we will develop theoretical mechanisms showing how, and under which conditions, even strategically acting members of horizontal organizations can be expected to be enmeshed in institutional processes that generate organizational autonomy or decision-making authority. Related hypotheses will reflect general patterns of emerging agency of horizontal organizations. Second, we will compile a database of institutional characteristics and quantitatively examine patterns of resource endowment and autonomy and their development over time for a set of 40 horizontal organizations from the two policy fields. Third, in selected case studies we will examine whether and how the developed mechanisms translate into actual organizational autonomy.

        Our Team       

Prof. Dr. Thomas Gehring

Principal investigator

Thomas Gehring holds the Chair of International Relations at the University of Bamberg. He did his Ph.D. and Habilitation in political science at the Free University of Berlin. Drawing on economic institutional theory and organization theory, he examines organizational effects of international institutions and the European Union, which arise from interaction of member states. They include the use of reason-based arguing in international decision processes, or of precedents, doctrines or analogical reasoning in the UN Security Council. He has also explored the sources of European Union actorness and the effects of complexes of overlapping international institutions.

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Michael Giesen

Postdoctoral Researcher

Michael Giesen is a postdoctoral research at the University of Bamberg in the project "Collective Agency of Horizontal Regulatory Organizations in Global Environmental and Financial Market Governance." He has studied Political Science (undergraduate), International Relations (graduate), and is going to obtain his Ph.D. in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin in 2021. His research focuses on the organizational dimensions of international politics, especially international organizations, human rights and environmental politics, and dynamics of institutional knowledge production.

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Prof. Dr. Thomas Rixen

Principal Investigator

Thomas Rixen is Professor of International and Comparative Political Economy at Freie Universität Berlin. Prior to this appointment he was Professor of Public Policy at the University of Bamberg (2012-2019) and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) (2007-2012). He holds a Ph.D. from Jacobs University Bremen. His research interests and teaching are in governance and globalization, institutionalist theory and economic, financial and tax policies.

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