International Organizations as Autonomous Entities of International Relations

Project Description

We still lack a theory of international organizations. Whereas our basic conception of international institutions is framed by the concept of regimes as cooperative arrangements that lack autonomy vis-à-vis their member states, all international governance institutions comprise a significant organizational component.

This long-term project examines the role of the organizational component from a theoretical perspective. It conceptualizes organizations as decision-making machines that process collectively accepted decisions according to their own organizational rules. Hence, organizations acquire autonomy from their member states not (only) through institutional actors, like a secretariat or a court, but (also) from organizationally shaped opportunity structures that influence actors’ behaviour during organizational decision processes and, as a consequence, the content of institutional output.

The theoretical project is closely related to two empirical projects examining organizational effects of the UN Security Council and to a new project on the emergent actorness of the European Union in international relations.


Selected Publications

Gehring, Thomas (2012): International Environmental Regimes as Decision Machines. In: Peter Duvergne (eds.): Handbook of Global Environmental Politics. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pages 51-63.

Gehring, Thomas (2009): Die Autonomie Internationaler Organisationen: Lehren aus der
systemtheoretischen Organisationstheorie. In: Klaus Dingwerth, Dieter Kerwer and Andreas Nölke (eds.): Die Organisierte Welt: Internationale Beziehungen und Organisationsforschung. Baden-Baden: Nomos, pages 59-94.

Gehring, Thomas and Michael Kerler (2007): Neue Entscheidungsverfahren in der Weltbank. Wie institutionelle Strukturen zu gutem Regieren führen. In: Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen, Vol. 14, No. 2, pages 217-251.