Author's note: Earlier versions of this paper were previously presented at the 2003 Midwest Political Science Association meetings, and the Workshops on Theoretical Synthesis and Scientific Progress in the Study of International Organizations, held in Budapest, Hungary, June 26–28, 2003 and Washington, DC, February 6–7, 2004. We thank Deborah Avant, Martha Finnemore, Jon Pevehouse, Mark Pollack, Michael Tierney, Jana von Stein, Celeste Wallander, Kate Weaver the participants at the workshops, and the editors and anonymous reviewers at ISQ for their extremely helpful critiques and comments.
Designing Police: Interpol and the Study of Change in International Organizations
Article first published online: 14 NOV 2005
International Studies Quarterly
Volume 49, Issue 4, pages 593–620, December 2005
How to Cite
Barnett, M. and Coleman, L. (2005), Designing Police: Interpol and the Study of Change in International Organizations. International Studies Quarterly, 49: 593–620. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2005.00380.x
- Issue published online: 14 NOV 2005
- Article first published online: 14 NOV 2005
On those rare occasions when scholars of international organizations (IOs) consider the issue of change, they typically highlight the centrality of states. Although states are important for understanding when and why there is a change in the tasks, mandate, and design of IO, IOs themselves can initiate change. Drawing from sociological institutional and resource dependence approaches, in this article we treat IOs as strategic actors that can choose among a set of strategies in order to pursue their goals in response to changing environmental pressures and constraints that potentially threaten their relevance and resource base. We delineate six strategies—acquiescence, compromise, avoidance, defiance, manipulation, and strategic social construction, and suggest that the strategic choice by IOs is contingent on the level of both organizational insecurity and the congruence between the content of environmental pressures and organizational culture. We emphasize how IOs must make a trade-off between acquiring the resources necessary to survive and be secure, on the one hand, and maintaining autonomy, on the other. We apply this framework to the case of Interpol, investigating how different calculations of these trade-offs led Interpol staff to adopt different strategies depending on its willingness to accept, resist, or initiate changes that demand conformity to external pressures.