Advertisement

How can international organizations shape public opinion? analysis of a pair of survey-based experiments

  • Brian Greenhill
Article

Abstract

How, and under what conditions, can International Organizations (IOs) shape public opinion? The impact of IOs on public support for war has been studied closely by international relations scholars, yet their effects on environmental or human rights issues has not. This is surprising given the extent to which the success of these initiatives will depend upon cooperation through international institutions. This article examines how IOs can influence popular support for two policies aimed at solving global collective action problems: (1) the REDD+ deforestation initiative; and (2) efforts to resettle Syrian refugees. The results presented here use a pair of survey-based experiments to test whether public support for these policies can be affected by the recommendations made by various organizations and their member states. Somewhat surprisingly, the results suggest that endorsements by the United Nations have a greater effect on the US public than do endorsements by organizations known for their technical expertise, or by prominent international NGOs. These findings call into question some of the assumptions we commonly make about the perceived legitimacy of international organizations.

Keywords

Human rights Environment Deforestation Refugees UN OECD 

JEL Classification

F53 L31 Q54 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Chris Clary, Jeremy Horowitz, Dan Reiter, Niloufer Siddiqui, Alexander Thompson, Ben Valentino, and Jana von Stein for their comments and suggestions on this project. I am especially grateful to Matthew Kirk for his research assistance, and to the editors and anonymous reviewers at the Review of International Organization for their very thoughtful comments and suggestions..

Supplementary material

11558_2018_9325_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (233 kb)
(PDF 232 KB)

References

  1. Abbott, K.W., & Snidal, D. (1998). Why states act through formal international organizations. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 42(1), 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baldez, L. (2014). Defying convention: US resistance to the UN treaty on Women’s rights. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berinsky, A.J., Huber, G.A., Lenz, G.S. (2012). Evaluating online labor markets for experimental research: Amazon. com’s Mechanical Turk. Political Analysis, 20(3), 351–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burley, A.M., & Mattli, W. (1993). Europe before the court: a political theory of legal integration. International Organization pp. 41–76.Google Scholar
  5. Chapman, T.L. (2007). International security institutions, domestic politics, and institutional legitimacy. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 51(1), 134–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapman, T.L. (2009). Audience beliefs and international organization legitimacy. International Organization, 63(4), 733–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chapman, T.L. (2012). Securing approval: domestic politics and multilateral authorization for war. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cichowski, R.A. (2004). Women’s rights, the European Court, and supranational constitutionalism. Law & Society Review, 38(3), 489–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Garrett, G. (1995). The politics of legal integration in the European Union. International Organization, 49(1), 171–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gleditsch, K.S., & Ward, M.D. (2006). Diffusion and the international context of democratization. International Organization, 60(4), 911–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gourevitch, P. (1978). The second image reversed: the international sources of domestic politics. International Organization, 32(4), 881–912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Greenhill, B.D. (2015). Transmitting rights: international organizations and the diffusion of human rights practices. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Grieco, J.M., Gelpi, C., Reifler, J., Feaver, P.D. (2011). Let’s get a second opinion: international institutions and American public support for war. International Studies Quarterly, 55(2), 563–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hafner-Burton, E.M., & Schneider, C.J. (2016). A dark side of cooperation: when international organizations spread political corruption. Laboratory on International Law and Regulation Working Paper 28.Google Scholar
  15. Hawkins, D.G., Lake, D.A., Nielson, D.L., Tierney, M.J. (2006). Delegation and agency in international organizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huff, C., & Tingley, D. (2015). “Who are these people?” evaluating the demographic characteristics and political preferences of MTurk survey respondents. Research & Politics, 2(3), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson, T. (2011). Guilt by association: the link between states’ influence and the legitimacy of intergovernmental organizations. Review of International Organizations, 6(1), 57–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maliniak, D., Parowski, B., Tierney, M.J. (2016). Changing Lessons from Survey Experiments on IO Approval and the Use of Force.” Working Paper.Google Scholar
  19. McEntire, K.J., Leiby, M., Krain, M. (2015). Human rights organizations as agents of change: an experimental examination of framing and micromobilization. American Political Science Review, 109(3), 407–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mearsheimer, J.J. (1994). The false promise of international institutions. International Security, 19(3), 5–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nielson, D.L., & Tierney, M.J. (2003). Delegation to international organizations: Agency theory and World Bank environmental reform. International Organization, 57(2), 241–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nye, J.S. (2004). Soft power: the means to success in world politics. Public affairs.Google Scholar
  23. Simmons, B.A., & Elkins, Z. (2004). The globalization of liberalization: policy diffusion in the international political economy. American Political Science Review, 98(1), 171–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Thompson, A. (2006). Coercion through IOs: the security council and the logic of information transmission. International Organization, 60(1), 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wallace, G.P.R. (2017). Supplying protection: the United Nations and public support for humanitarian intervention. Conflict Management and Peace Science p. 0738894217697458.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity at Albany, SUNYAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations