Institution Building across Borders



Trajectories of Transnational Governance

Sigrid Quack

This project starts from the assumption that the transnational sphere is fertile ground for studying how institutions emerge and evolve in the face of strategic uncertainty, polyarchy, and a multiplicity of actors with different goals. Given such common conditions, why do transnational governance fields display highly differentiated trajectories in terms of their organizational forms and relational actor configurations? Why are there such varying degrees of democratic participation, public accountability, and institutional effectiveness? The project aims to develop a theoretical framework that focuses on the initial design, contestation, and responsiveness of governance organizations as well as on their relation to other actors within a specific field of rule-making. This conceptual work builds on a comparison of longitudinal studies on four fields, chosen to provide maximum variance in political salience and technical complexity: accounting standards, copyright rules, forest certification, and labor standards. The aim is to develop a theoretical typology of trajectories which are located on a continuum from monopolistic to pluralistic participation in governance.
Project duration: April 2012 to December 2015.
Quack, Sigrid (2012): Regime complexity and expertise in transnational governance: Strategizing on regulatory uncertainty. Paper presented at the Onati Workshop on Law, Contestation, and Power in the Global Political Economy 7-8 June 2012.
Malets, Olga and Sigrid Quack (2012): Projecting the Local into the Global: Trajectories of Participation in Transnational Standard-Setting. Available on SSRN. Forthcoming in: Gili Drori, Markus Höllerer and Peter Walgenbach (eds.): Organizations and Managerial Ideas: Global Themes and Local Variations. London: Routledge.


Global-Local Interaction in Cross-Border Governance

Sigrid Quack and Olga Malets (Technische Universität München)

Transnational institutional development, by definition, involves interaction between a diverse range of actors who are situated in local as well as global fields of action. This project addresses how different types of global–local interaction, such as trickle-down and trickle-up effects or recursive feedback, shape governance trajectories. The aim is to develop a theoretical framework to synthesize results from the research groups’ longitudinal and multi-level analyses in different governance fields. These fields include: accounting standards, copyright and patent regulation, forest certification, conservation rules, labor standards, and microfinance. Empirical studies of these fields are to be published in an edited volume.
Project duration: April 2012 to July 2014.
Malets, Olga (2011): From Transnational Voluntary Standards to Local Practices: A Case Study of Forest Certification in Russia. MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/7.
Malets, Olga and Sigrid Quack (2012): Projecting the Local into the Global: Trajectories of Participation in Transnational Standard-Setting. Available on SSRN. Forthcoming in: Gili Drori, Markus Höllerer and Peter Walgenbach(eds.): Organizations and Managerial Ideas: Global Themes and Local Variations. London: Routledge.


Elites on Trial? The Design of Institutions, Industries, and Organizations 

Sigrid Quack, with Glenn Morgan (Cardiff Business School) and Paul Hirsch (Northwestern University)

The international financial and European sovereign debts crises have resulted in a challenge to the power of economic and political elites. Against this background, this project critically engages with C. Wright Mills’ work on the power elite. Mills saw US society in the 1950s as being ruled by elitist circles who occupied power positions in large organizational bureaucracies located inside the power triangle of the economy, military, and politics. But over the past two decades, globalization, liberalization politics, and financialization have weakened elite networks spanning large corporations. This raises a number of questions about the relationships between elites and institutional design. What is the effect on power elites when national bureaucracies are being replaced by global networks and market relations? To what extent are elites still forming and reproducing within national contexts, and to what extent is a global elite emerging? In what ways do elites shape the design and development of national and international institutions and organizations, and to what degree are these being used to strategically influence industry? Finally, what organizational resources do elites use to maintain and defend their power in the face of crisis, challenges, and resistance from other groups in society, and what resources are their opponents able to mobilize? These questions were discussed by a group of 20 scholars from the US, Europe, Israel, and Asia at the EGOS Colloquium in Helsinki in July 2012. An edited volume of selected papers is currently being prepared and will be published as part of the “Sociology of Organizations” series.
Project duration: July 2012 to February 2015.


Microfinance: Narratives, Governmentalities, and Materialities of Financialization

Philip Mader

The financialization of capitalism is a transnational social fact and historical trend affecting societies around the globe. But little attention has been paid to its intricacies and subtleties in areas such as the proliferation of microfinance. Microfinance is driving the expansion of financial markets into the slums and villages of the “Global South” – who then become integrated into transnational capital circuits. Microfinance constructs social problems as financial problems and gives moral urgency to market expansion by promising “empowerment” through debt. This clearly reveals the mobilizing narratives that underlie financialization. The mechanisms and effects of governmentality produced in financial market relations can be examined through those credit linkages which instill discipline while opening up new channels of surplus extraction. This project aims to add to the social-scientific analysis of money, credit, and debt by examining the functioning of financial markets in modern capitalism as revealed by the logics and techniques underlying microfinance. It applies theories from political economy and economic sociology, and builds on case studies concerning the expansion and limits of microfinance.
Project duration: June 2012 to March 2014.
Klas, Gerhard/Philip Mader: Rendite machen und Gutes tun? Mikrokredite und die Folgen neoliberaler Entwicklungspolitik. Frankfurt: Campus (to be published in 2014).


MPIfG: Research Group Institution Building across Borders | [Last updated 25.03.2014 18:16]