Tana Johnson, Organizational Progeny: Why Governments are Losing Control over the Proliferating Structures of Global Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 304 pp.
In life, delegation is fundamental. But it is difficult, especially when attempted internationally, as in the long delegation chains to the United Nations family and other global governance structures. There, much hinges on the design of delegation relationships. What prompts another entity to fall in line – and if it does not, what can be done? For international organizations, the conventional answer is simple: when designing institutions, member-states endow themselves with stringent control mechanisms, such as monopolization of financing or vetoes over decision-making in the new body.
But as Tana Johnson shows, the conventional answer is outdated. States rarely design international organizations alone. Instead, negotiations usually involve international bureaucrats employed in pre-existing organizations. To unveil these overlooked but pivotal players, Organizational Progeny uses new data on nearly 200 intergovernmental organizations and detailed accounts of the origins of prominent and diverse institutions – the World Food Program, United Nations Development Program, International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Financial Action Task Force, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. When international bureaucrats have a say, they often strive to insulate new institutions against the usual control mechanisms by which states steer, monitor, or reverse organizational activities.
This increases control costs for states, is difficult to roll back, and even produces bodies that powerful countries initially opposed. The result is a proliferation of organizational progeny over which national governments are literally losing “control.” Johnson explores what this means for the democratic nature of global governance and how practitioners can encourage or stanch this phenomenon.
About the Author
Tana Johnson is Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. She serves as a faculty advisor and instructor for Duke’s Program on Global Policy and Governance, which places graduate students in internships in international governmental and non-governmental organizations in Geneva, Switzerland. Johnson has received research fellowships from the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University, and from the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. She also has been an energy policy fellow through the Global Governance 2022 program, which consists of academics and practitioners from China, Germany, and the United States.
Johnson’s research and teaching focuses on governance, globalization, international organizations, energy/environmental policy, and U.S. foreign policy. Her work has been published in outlets such as International Organization, Journal of Politics, Review of International Organizations, and The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency. Her recent book Organizational Progeny: Why Governments are Losing Control over the Proliferating Structures of Global Governance (Oxford University Press, 2014) examines the role of international bureaucrats in designing new institutions. The book is the recipient of the International Studies Association’s Chadwick F. Alger Prize for the best book on international organization and multilateralism.