In the study of international organizations (IOs), time and space have mostly been approached as contextual, even implicit and unrelated, factors. Instead this special issue considers them as co-constitutive of multilateralism and investigates three main questions: (i) How are IOs influenced by time and space? (ii) How are time and space experienced within IOs? (iii) How do IOs influence time and space around them? This introductory article compiles the contributions’ findings and points to a cyclical process: IOs are influenced by the spatiotemporal conditions of their enactment, leading to a diversity of practices and experiences within these organizations which in turn impact time and space, both in the way they are conceptualized and in their concrete embodiment. The special issue has proven the merit of taking time and space seriously in the study of IOs. This article concludes with a series of (non-exhaustive) research avenues to continue this promising analytical and empirical endeavor, including discussions on the relationship between IO performance and time and space, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Scholars and policy makers should consider contrasting conceptions of timescales and spatiality within and between IOs.
- By explicitly acknowledging different temporalities between headquarters and missions, IOs could avoid contradictions and dysfunctionalities when it comes to project and program funding, evaluations, and crisis management.
- Increased collaboration can be fostered by considering different organizational working paces and spatial constraints, as well as organizational calendars which affect how IO entities work individually and together.
- The positive outcomes of geographical and temporal proximity that characterizes IO ecosystems can be enhanced by organizational leadership, to benefit from increased synergies between organizations and access to a qualified labor pool.
- International organizations should involve a greater number of participants in the production of procedures and guidelines to best account for individual and situational practices and experiences.
- Policy makers should assess the impact of the growing use of digital technologies (e.g. online conferencing tools) on global governance. They could identify areas in which these technologies can complement and support existing (onsite) practices without jeopardizing meaningful and inclusive deliberations.