New Organizational Leadership: Nonstate Actors in Global Economic Governance

Photo credit: mckaysavage / Foter / CC BY

States and international organizations have found irresistible cause in a globalizing world to coopt nonstate actors (NGOs, private standard setters and so forth) to manage the manifold problems arising under their stretched mandates and resources. The pooling of capacities in the pursuit of common goals seems perfectly sensible. Yet although the strategy of cooptation has become a policy of choice, policy makers often lack full knowledge of its implications. As Philip Selznick first showed, cooptation can have unintended consequences, shifting leadership from one organization to another. We place this fertile insight in a better specified analytical framework. That is, one capable of explaining when and how leadership shifts occur and where the status quo leaders will remain at the helm. Using original interview data and structured focused comparisons to test the framework, we reveal dramatic variation in leadership changes following the cooptation of outside actors in global financial and environmental governance.