This project explores two central research questions, motivated by this shift in the design of international institutions:

• Why have international institutions increasingly opened up to transnational actor involve­ment?

• What are the consequences of involving transnational actors for the democratic legitimacy, problem-solving effectiveness, and distributional effects of international institutions?

These are questions that previously have not been explored systematically in existing research on international institutional design, transnational actors in global governance, and democracy beyond the nation-state.

This project opens up a new research agenda on the design of inter­national institutions through an ambitious combination of theory development and comparative empirical research. Theoretically, the project develops and tests alternative hy­potheses about the causes and effects of transnational participation in international policy-making. Empirically, the project engages in comparative case studies of transnational participation in the global governance of trade, environmental issues, development, security, health and regional integration, as well as a quantitative analysis of transnational access in a broader sample of international institutions.

Beyond its impact on social science, this project will generate policy-relevant conclusions on the implications of involving transnational actors in international policy-making. The legitimacy and effectiveness of global governance is today at the top of the agenda of national governments, international institutions, and civil society organizations – and rightly so. Whereas societies around the world demand that global governance be developed to handle joint challenges, such as climate change, sustainable development, financial instability, limits in the legitimacy and effectiveness of these arrangements risks undermining their potential to make a difference. The increasing involvement of transnational actors constitutes a development whose effects on the legitimacy and effectiveness of global governance are still unclear and require attention.

Abridged version of project proposal (pdf) »