This is a re-amalgamation of what started as one manuscript and became two when the length proved to be more than any publisher wanted to consider. The splitting consisted of removing what are now Parts 3, 4, and 5 so that the manuscript focused on the outcome-related shared beliefs holding an authority relationship together. Those parts were last worked on in 2018. The rest were last worked on in late 2021 but also remain incomplete.
The relational approach adopted in this study treats intergovernmental organizations and the governments of member states as co-participants in an authority relationship with the governments of their member states. Authority relationships link two types of actor, defined by their authority-holder or addressee role in the relationship, through a set of shared beliefs about why the relationship exists and how the participants should fulfill their respective roles. The IGO as authority holder has a role that includes a right to instruct other actors about what they should or should not do; the governments of member states as addressees are expected to comply with the instructions. Three sets of shared beliefs provide the conceptual “glue” holding the relationship together. The first defines the goal of the collective effort, providing both the rationale for having the authority relationship and providing a lode star for assessments of the collective effort’s success or lack of success. The second set defines the shared understanding about allocation of roles and the process of interaction by establishing shared expectations about a) the selection process by which particular actors acquire authority holder roles, b) the definitions identifying one or more categories of addressees expected to follow instructions, and c) the procedures through which the authority holder issues instructions. The third set focus on the outcomes of cooperation through the relationship by defining a) the substantive areas in which the authority holder may issue instructions, b) the bases for assessing the relevance actions mandated in instructions for reaching the goal, and c) the relative efficacy of action paths chosen for reaching the goal as compared to other possible action paths.
Using an authority relationship framework for analyzing cooperation through IGOs highlights the inherently bi-directional nature of IGO-member government activity by viewing their interaction as involving a three-step process in which the IGO as authority holder decides when to issue what instruction, the member state governments as followers react to the instruction with anything from prompt and full compliance through various forms of pushback to outright rejection, and the IGO as authority holder responds to how the followers react with efforts to increase individual compliance with instructions and reinforce continuing acceptance of the authority relationship. Foregrounding the dynamics produced by the interaction of these two streams of perception and action reveals more clearly how far intergovernmental organizations acquire capacity to operate as independent actors, the dynamic ways they maintain that capacity, and how much they influence member governments’ beliefs and actions at different times. The approach fosters better understanding of why, when, and for how long governments choose cooperation through an IGO even in periods of rising unilateralism.
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