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

Grant Details


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.
Effective start/end date01/1/20 → …


  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


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