This article introduces a new dataset on transnational public-private governance initiatives (TGIs) in world politics. TGIs are institutions in which states and/or intergovernmental organizations cooperate with business and civil society actors to govern transnational problems. Thus, they are a special type of transnational public-private partnership. TGIs have flourished since the late 1990s and, today, govern a broad range of global policy domains, including environmental protection, human rights, health, trade, finance, and security. Yet, existing research lacks the data necessary to map this phenomenon and its variation along dimensions, such as issue areas, governance functions, participation, and institutional design. The Transnational Public-Private Governance Initiatives in World Politics (TGIWP) data is designed for this purpose. It contains detailed information on the scope, functions, participants, and institutional design of 636 TGIs created between 1885 and 2017. I describe the sample generation and discuss coding rules. I also map the proliferation and characteristics of TGIs, and provide an exploratory analysis of the relationship between state participation in TGIs and domestic democracy to show how the new data contributes to enhancing ongoing debates in international relations. The article concludes by discussing how the new dataset may be useful in future research on global governance.
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See also the International Environmental Agreements Database Project led by Ronald Mitchell (https://iea.uoregon.edu/, accessed: 12.07.2019).
IGOs are traditional intergovernmental organizations, such as the UN, the World Bank, or the World Trade Organization. I define IGOs in accordance with the Correlates of War (COW) Project, which considers an international institution an IGO if it has at least three member states, holds regular plenary meetings at least once every ten years, and possesses a permanent secretariat and corresponding headquarters (Pevehouse et al. 2004). Although we use the IGO definition provided by the COW Project, we also take into account IGOs that are not included in the COW IGO data.
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In addition to myself, the research team included eleven graduate and undergraduate students at the Universities of St. Gallen and Zürich. At several points during the conceptualization, planning, and implementation of the data collection, experts in the field of transnational and global governance that formed an advisory group for the project provided comments.
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For a full list of the TGIs in the sample, see Table A-1 in the online appendix available at the Review of International Organizations’ website.
Table A-3 in the online appendix shows how we aggregate the sub-issue area coding of the TGIs in the dataset and the COW Project issue area coding of IGOs to enable a comparison of the distribution of initiatives and organizations across issue areas (Pevehouse et al. 2015). I thank Jon Pevehouse for sharing the most recent version of the COW IGO data prior to its public release.
The online appendix provides more detail on how the governance functions of TGIs are coded.
For about half of the sample, we collected the same information also for business actors and civil society organizations. However, due to resource limitations we could not extend this part of the data collection to all initiatives in the sample. We intend to complete this information in future research.
The online appendix provides more detail on how the institutional design features of TGIs are coded.
This new data on IGO and IIGO issue areas, governance functions, participation, and institutional design features was generated under the umbrella of the same project that created the TGIWP data.
For example, researchers may use descriptive and inferential network analysis to examine how TGIs are connected through shared state members and examine which initiatives are connected in what ways and why (Westerwinter forthcoming).
These and all other numerical summaries of the trends that can be observed in the data should be interpreted with caution. Given the limitations of the sample, the descriptive summaries presented in this section are intended to unveil overall trends among the TGIs in the dataset. The particular numerical values are of lesser importance.
I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for suggesting to explore the clustering of TGIs in their governance functions in greater detail.
The total number of TGIs included in the cluster analysis is 616. Initiatives with missing data on the governance function variables are excluded from this analysis.
The maximum numbers of observations taken into account for calculating average participant numbers differ across participant groups and from the total sample size of 636 because of missing data on participants. For the TGIs with missing data on participants, we were able to confirm that their participants fulfill our TGI criteria, but we could not obtain information about specific participants.
In terms of number of participants, the UN Global Compact is an outlier among the TGIs in the dataset. To ensure that the descriptive statistics that include information on TGI participants are not driven by this outlier observation, I re-calculate the average participant numbers reported in Tables 1, 2, A-6, and A-7 without taking the UN Global Compact into account. Tables A-8, A-9, A-10, and A-11 in the online appendix present these figures and show that the exclusion of the outlier does not affect the overall patterns in the data.
Focusing on transnational climate change governance, Hoffmann (2011) finds no correlation between the actors involved and the functions that governance initiatives perform.
The low number of initiatives that have a founding document resonates with the observation of Pattberg et al. (2012), who find that the absence of an establishing protocol, contract, or memorandum of understanding is common among TGIs. This may be due to the circumstance that many TGIs are relatively informal institutional arrangements. One expression of this informality may be the lack of a publicly available founding document. The absence of a founding document may also be driven by the interests of the participants of a TGI that may prefer to keep their involvement and commitments vague. Finally, since the coding of all institutional design variables in the dataset is based on publicly available information, the low proportion of TGIs with a founding document might also be the consequence of governance initiatives that do not publish their founding statements.
The analysis is not intended to be a strict replication of Andonova’s (2014) study. Given her focus on transnational partnerships that address sustainable development issues, several of her explanatory variables for state participation in transnational governance are specific to the environment area (e.g. environmental systems stress, domestic environmental strategies and plans). Creating comparable measures for an analysis of state participation in TGIs across a range of issue areas is beyond the scope of this application. Nevertheless, I include several of her key independent variables in my model specifications and discuss how my findings relate to hers as well as the findings of other extant research.
In other ongoing work, I examine why states establish TGIs rather than alternative global governance institutions as well as the factors that shape the institutional design of TGIs.
I also estimate ordinary least squares models in which the dependent variable is the natural logarithm of states’ participations in TGIs. The results of these analyses are reported in Table A-14 in the online appendix and do not deviate from the findings of my main analysis.
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This research was funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies and the Basic Research Fund of the University of St. Gallen. I also gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. I would like to thank the excellent research assistance of Christian Andres, Ruslan Aybazov, Tino Good, Stefano Jud, Rosie Keller, Laura Leibundgut, Giulia Parini, Bernhard Reinsberg, Dominik Schneeberger, Johannes Schultz, and Keto Schumacher in preparing this article. I also thank Ken Abbott, Liliana Andonova, Michael Barnett, Tom Biersteker, Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, Philipp Genschel, Tom Hale, Virginia Haufler, Dirk Lehmkuhl, Miles Kahler, Erasmus Kersting, Christopher Kilby, Barb Koremenos, Lisa Martin, Katja Michaelowa, Christine Neuhold, Joost Pauwelyn, Jon Pevehouse, Kal Raustiala, Bernhard Reinsberg, Duncan Snidal, Jonas Tallberg, Felicity Vabulas, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. I especially thank Sharlene Westerwinter for sharing her thoughts and for always supporting me.
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Westerwinter, O. Transnational public-private governance initiatives in world politics: Introducing a new dataset. Rev Int Organ 16, 137–174 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-019-09366-w
- Transnational public-private governance initiatives
- Global governance
- Institutional design