The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 293–317

The International Energy Agency after 35 years: Reform needs and institutional adaptability

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11558-009-9063-8

Cite this article as:
Van de Graaf, T. & Lesage, D. Rev Int Organ (2009) 4: 293. doi:10.1007/s11558-009-9063-8

Abstract

Despite the mounting scholarly interest in processes of institutional change in international organizations, still very little is known about how and when such evolutionary dynamics occur. This article hopes to contribute to this young, yet growing body of literature by process-tracing the changes that have occurred in the institutional setup of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Founded during the first oil crisis of 1973–74, the IEA has had to deal with major environmental changes over its lifetime. In response, the agency has diversified away from its original raison d’être, namely managing an emergency oil sharing mechanism, to become a more proactive policy adviser guiding its member governments toward sustainable energy economies. The article seeks to explain the observed patterns of change and inertia, using a theoretic paradigm that builds on theories of “new institutionalism.” The paper argues that the agency’s institutional flexibility can only be fully explained by taking into account a combination of factors: (1) the member states’ choices, in particular the impulses of the G8-members of the IEA; (2) path dependency, especially the institutional link with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and (3) agency by the secretariat and the executive bureau of the IEA.

Keywords

International Energy AgencyInstitutional changeInternational organizationsGlobal energy governanceNew institutionalism

JEL codes

F53F55F59Q48Q49

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Governance Research GroupGhent UniversityGentBelgium