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NGO participation in global governance institutions: international and domestic drivers of engagement


Global governance institutions (GGIs) increasingly rely upon NGO involvement for expertise, promotion of rules and standards, and democratic legitimacy. Yet NGO participation in GGIs is unevenly distributed by country of origin. This paper examines patterns of NGO participation in GGIs, and how participation is shaped by incentives and pressures at global and national levels. First, we map NGO participation by country of origin across 42 GGIs based on the roles that GGIs grant to NGOs and by variations in domestic conditions of income level and political regime type. Second, to delve more deeply into domestic factors, we provide an exploratory statistical regression based on NGO participation in two major GGIs, the UN Global Compact on corporate social responsibility and the UNFCCC Conferences of Parties on climate change. We find evidence that participation patterns reflect both the varying institutional design of GGIs and NGO capacity linked to domestic conditions. We observe that NGOs with constrained capacity due to domestic factors gravitate toward GGIs that offer the most significant roles for NGOs, with the greatest opportunity to influence policy. We suggest that domestic civil society factors beyond level of economic development and regime type shape NGO participation at the global level. Analysis of this wide-ranging set of GGIs provides more general confirmation of patterns of NGO engagement in global governance previously identified in studies limited to particular issue sectors or cases.

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  1. 1.

    Held and Hale aim to provide a comprehensive overview of transnational governance. York Compendium focuses on GGIs that govern private sector actors in issue areas ranging from the environment to corruption and human rights (McKague and Cragg 2007).

  2. 2.

    The information varies significantly in structure, however, including whether participation is continuous (and therefore counts are cumulative) or serialized (and counts are annual or meeting-based); whether potential membership is universal or restricted; and whether the GGI issues addressed are broad (inviting global participation) or narrow (making NGOs from countries without that issue unlikely to join).

  3. 3.

    We included branch offices of international NGOs in particular countries (for example, Greenpeace–Russia is coded an NGO from Russia, rather than originating from the global office in Amsterdam). See “Appendix” for full coding scheme.

  4. 4.

    Income levels are taken from the World Bank’s income groupings: high, medium, and low GDP per capita. Regime type corresponds to the Polity project’s designation of autocracies (score of − 6 to − 10), anocracies (− 5 to 5) and democracies (6 to 10). Civil Society environment groupings are created from V-Dem (v. 7)’s civil society participation index, with ‘poor’ ranging from 0 to .399, ‘medium’ from .4 to .699, and ‘good’ from .7 to 1.

  5. 5.

    This difference in data structure and availability is the major reason why our regression models are limited; we feel that a multilevel model and/or incorporating all 42 GGIs in the previous section is inadvisable. We thank Jennifer Allan for providing access to her UNFCCC NGO participant data for the years 2006–2011.

  6. 6.

    The UNGC model uses UNGC data on the year in which non-business actors—global and local NGOs and labor unions, academic institutions, and foundations—joined the UNGC participatory structure, which until 2013 required no continuing commitment to report activities by non-business participants. It excludes 186 organizations which voluntarily withdrew between 2002 and 2017 (email correspondence with UNGC official), but includes those which were expelled for lack of communications per a 2013 rule change. Thus, the data used here differ from that used in Part 1: it is annualized rather than cumulative and includes organizations that had left by the time the Part 1 information was collected. The UNFCCC data counts the number of NGOs per country sending delegates to the annual Conference of Parties (COP), as reported in the annual COP list of delegates. These data match exactly the data structure in Part 1, but the collection years for Part 2 do not include 2017.

  7. 7.

    The model for the UNFCCC also adds two variables related to the GGI itself, rather than the issue addressed: the year 2009 as an outlier in delegate numbers and ‘UNFCCC host’ to signify a greater number of NGOs from the state hosting the COP that year. See “Appendix 3” for full details of all variables used.

  8. 8.

    We are aware of potential issues with multicollinearity among our independent variables, particularly those for domestic POS. For a full account of correlations and stepwise regressions to investigate further, see “Appendix 5”.

  9. 9.

    See “Appendix 6” for analyses of different variables representing other potential sources of or impediments to NGO participation in GGIs.


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The authors wish to thank Jennifer Allan for access to her UNFCCC participant dataset for 2006–2011, and Fabio Resmini for data research assistance. We are grateful to Elizabeth Bloodgood, Lisa Dellmuth, and all participants at the international workshop on interest groups and INGOs hosted at Stockholm University, June 11–12, 2018, for their helpful feedback, and two anonymous peer reviewers for their constructive suggestions. We also thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for generously funding this research through an Insight Development Grant (#430-2013-000379).

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Correspondence to Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom.

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Appendix 1: Overview of NGO potential influence rankings and measures

Initiatives were scored on the potential influence NGOs could having in a global governance institution through roles related to decision-making or accountability mechanisms, with ‘points’ assigned to each role as follows, and categorization of GGIs as ‘high’ potential influence if the roles totaled 3.5 points or higher; ‘medium’ if totaling 2.5–3 points; and ‘low’ if totaling 0.5–2.0 points.

Basic access

Being a signatory of an agreement or listed as a member is an indication that an NGO is considered to hold similar standing in the GGI as other types of members (such as corporations or even government actors), so we assigned a full point for each of these roles. In contrast, being an ‘observer’ means that NGOs are not considered members with equal rights of full parties; for instance, they cannot vote on decisions made. Thus, we assigned ‘observer’ roles for NGOs only ½ point.

  • Signatory of convention/agreement for GGI (1 point)

  • Appears on registry of ‘members’ (1 point)

  • Appears on registry of ‘observers’ (1/2 point).

Consultation or monitoring roles

Having gained access to a GGI, NGOs may play a variety of governance roles that contribute to their potential influence. The ability to attend regular meetings, no matter what the membership status, is an important substantive role that offers potential influence for NGOs, so we assigned this role a full point. NGOs often place a role in promoting accountability, either through formal monitoring within the GGI (one point) or through more informal naming and shaming (1/2 point). NGOs may also carry out ongoing projects or hold one-time events sanctioned by the GGI (one point each). Finally, NGO shapes rules and standards though offering comment and feedback, providing technical expertise, or facilitating stakeholder engagement (one point each).

  • Attends regular meetings (1 point)

  • Monitors formally compliance or auditing compliance (1 point)

  • Promotes accountability informally (1/2 point)

  • Carries out projects under auspices of GGI (1 point)

  • Hosts a affiliated event (1 point)

  • Provides comment or feedback on rules and standards (1 point)

  • Provides technical expertise (1 point)

  • Facilitates in stakeholder engagement (1 point).

Indicator Measures Typical website sections Evaluation of evidence
Basic access Institutional commitment to NGOs role in advancing the initiative Homepage
About Us
Evidence evaluated nominally as follows:
Roles played by NGOs Mechanisms for NGO participation How we work
Participating organizations
How we work
Participating organizations
Supporting Organizations
Categories of roles identified by GGI:
 Signatory of convention/agreement
 Membership privileges
 Observer/supporter privileges
 Attendance at annual meeting
 Host a side event
 Comment on rules/standards
 Offer technical expertise
 Formal monitoring/auditing
 Informal monitoring related to GGI transparency initiatives.
 Projects executed under auspices of GGI
 Consult as stakeholder
 Receive funding

Appendix 2: Dataset list of 126 global governance initiatives

1. Caux Round Table Principles for Business
2. Clarkson Principles for Stakeholder Management
3. An Interfaith Declaration: Code of Ethics on International Business for Christians, Muslims and Jews
4. Global Sullivan Principles for Social Responsibility
5. GoodCorporation Standard
6. IFC Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability
7. ISO-26000 Guidance on Corporate Social Responsibility
8. OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
9. Principles for Global Corporate Responsibility
10. United Nations Global Compact
11. Global Reporting Initiative
12. Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste
13. CERES Roadmap for Sustainability
14. ISO 14000 Environmental Management
16. Stockholm Convention
17. International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement
18. International Coral Reef Initiative
19. World Commission on Dams
20. Carbon Disclosure Project
21. IISD Bellagio Principles
22. Earth Charter
23. ICC Business Charter for Sustainable Development
24. Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development
25. Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
26. Millennium Development Goals
27. ETI Base Code
28. Fair Labour Association Workplace Code of Conduct
29. ILO Core Labour Declarations
30. ILO Declaration on MNEs and Social Policy
31. Social Accountability International
32. Workers’ Rights Consortium
33. Verite Research, Consulting, Assessment and Training
34. Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)
35. FairWear Foundation Labour Standards
36. UN CEDAW and Beijing Declaration Conferences
37. Calvert Women’s Principles
38. UN Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles
39. International Corporate Governance Network Principles
40. OECD Principles for Corporate Governance
41. Principles for CG in the Commonwealth
42. International Accounting Standards Board
43. Basel Committee on Banking Supervision
44. Basel Statement on Prevention of Money Laundering
45. Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering
46. Wolfsberg Anti-Money Laundering Principles
47. APEC Course of Action on Corruption and Transparency
48. Partnering Against Corruption Initiative
49. IMF Code, Manual and Guide on Fiscal and Resource Revenue Transparency
50. ICC Rules of Conduct to Combat Extortion and Bribery
51. OECD Anti-Bribery Convention
52. OAS Inter-American Convention Against Corruption
53. Transparency International Business Principles for Countering Bribery
54. UN Convention Against Corruption
55. Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes
56. UN Code of Conduct for Public Officials
57. Amnesty International Human Rights Principles for Companies
58. Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
59. UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
60. ICC Marketing Codes
61. Apparel Industry Partnership Workplace Code of Conduct and Principles of Monitoring
62. Clean Clothes Campaign
63. Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production Principles
64. Responsible Care
65. EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports
66. US Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct
67. Arms Trade Treaty
68. International Stability Operations Association Code of Conduct
69. International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC)
70. Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition Code of Conduct
71. Global e-Sustainability Initiative
72. Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices Code of Conduct
73. Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative
74. International Council on Mining and Metals Sustainable Development Principles
75. International Gas Union Guiding Principles for Sustainable Development
76. Kimberly Process
77. Collevecchio Declaration on Financial Institutions
78. Equator Principles
79. Statement of Environmental Commitment by the Insurance Industry
80. UN Principles for Responsible Investment
81. UNEP FI Statement on the Environment and Sustainable Development
82. Financial Stability Board
83. Group of 20
84. International Association of Insurance Supervisors
85. International Competition Network
86. Joint Forum
87. World Bank Inspection Panel
88. FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
89. Marine Stewardship Council
90. WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes
91. WHO Strategy on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
92. The Framework for Responsible Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverage Marketing Communications
93. 4C (Common Code for the Coffee Community) Association Code of Conduct for the Coffee Sector
94. International Cocoa Initiative
95. Codex Alimentarius
96. Forest Stewardship Council
97. WHO Strategy on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
98. The Framework for Responsible Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverage Marketing Communications
99. 4C (Common Code for the Coffee Community) Association Code of Conduct for the Coffee Sector
100. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)
101. UN Forest Principles
102. International Road Transport Union Charter for Sustainable Development
103. International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Associations Code of Practice
104. WHO Ethical criteria for Medicinal Drug Promotion
105. International Conference on the Harmonization of Technical Requirements for the Registration of Pharmaceutical Products
106. Good Weave International (formerly Rugmark)
107. FIFA Code of Labour Practice for the Production of FIFA trademark footballs
108. World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry Model Code of Conduct
109. International Council of Toy Industries Code of Conduct
110. World Steel Industry Sustainable Development Vision and Goals
111. Charter for Environmental Action in the Hotel Industry
112. Global Code of Ethics in Tourism
113. World Charter for Sustainable Tourism
114. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
115. UN Aids
116. International Partnership for Microbicides
117. International Aids Society
118. Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI)
119. Global Polio Eradication Initiative
120. Global Partnership for a Malaria-Free World (Roll Back Malaria)
121. Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
122. Stop TB Partnership
123. Drugs For Neglected Diseases
124. Framework Convention Alliance
125. International Health Partnership and IHP+

Appendix 3: Global governance institutions with available NGO participation data

Initiative Type Themes addressed Target sector NGO influence potential Total NGOs
1. Apparel Industry Partnership Workplace Code of Conduct and Principles of Monitoring Voluntary Regulations Labour Rights Manufacturing, resources, retail Low 8
2. Calvert Women’s Principles Multistakeholder Initiatives Gender Finance and Investment Low 1
3. Caux Round Table Principles for Business Multistakeholder Initiatives Sustainable Development, Environment, Human Rights Cross-cutting Low 13
4. Clean Clothes Campaign  Voluntary Regulations Labour Rights Manufacturing, resources, retail Medium 106
5. Codex Alimentarius Voluntary Regulations Public Health, Commerce Public Sector Medium 147
6. Collevecchio Declaration on Financial Institutions Multistakeholder Initiatives Sustainable Development Finance and Investment Low 99
7. Drugs For Neglected Diseases Multistakeholder Initiatives Public Health Health and Pharmaceuticals Medium 12
8. Earth Charter Multistakeholder Initiatives Sustainable Development, Environment, Human Rights Cross-cutting Medium 84
9. Ethical Trading Initiative Voluntary Regulations Labour Rights Manufacturing, resources, retail Medium 21
10. Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative Voluntary Regulations Sustainable Development, Environment, Human Rights Manufacturing, resources, retail Low 9
11. Forest Stewardship Council  Voluntary Regulations Environment Manufacturing, resources, retail High 219
12. Framework Convention Alliance Multistakeholder Initiatives Public Health, Sustainable Development Public Sector High 277
13. Global Coffee Platform Voluntary Regulations Sustainable Development, Environment, Labour Rights Manufacturing, resources, retail Medium 10
14. Global e-Sustainability Initiative Multistakeholder Initiatives Sustainable Development ICT Low 10
15. Global Polio Eradication Initiative Multistakeholder Initiatives Public Health Cross-cutting Low 2
16. Global Reporting Initiative Voluntary Regulations Sustainable Development, Environment, Labour Rights Cross-cutting Low 64
17. GoodCorporation Standard Voluntary Regulations Labour Rights, Environment Cross-cutting Low 1
18. IISD Bellagio Principles Multistakeholder Initiatives Sustainable Development Cross-cutting Low 8
19. International Cocoa Initiative Voluntary Regulations Labour Rights Manufacturing, resources, retail Medium 7
20. International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) Multistakeholder Initiatives Security Defence and Military Medium 22
21. International Coral Reef Initiative Multistakeholder Initiatives Environment Public Sector High 22
22. International Health Partnership and IHP+ Multistakeholder Initiatives Public Health, Sustainable Development Cross-cutting High 14
23. International Partnership for Microbicides Multistakeholder Initiatives Public Health Health and Pharmaceuticals Medium 13
24. Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development Transgovernmental Networks Sustainable Development, Environment Cross-cutting Low 31
25. Kimberly Process  Voluntary Regulations Sustainable Development, Human Rights, Environment Manufacturing, resources, retail Medium 12
26. Marine Stewardship Council Voluntary Regulations Environment, Sustainable Development Manufacturing, resources, retail High 15
27. Millennium Development Goals Transgovernmental Networks Gender, Sustainable Development, Public Health Cross-cutting High 383
28. OAS Inter-American Convention Against Corruption  Transgovernmental Networks Economic regulation, Commerce Public Sector High 456
29. Social Accountability International Voluntary Regulations Labour Rights, Human Rights Manufacturing, resources, retail Low 26
30. Stockholm Convention Transgovernmental Networks Environment Public Sector High 88
31. Stop TB Partnership Multistakeholder Initiatives Public Health Health and Pharmaceuticals High 1316
32. Transparency International Business Principles for Countering Bribery Multistakeholder Initiatives Commerce Cross-cutting Medium 115
33. UN Aids Transgovernmental Networks Public Health Cross-cutting Medium 47
34. UN Convention Against Corruption Transgovernmental Networks Commerce Public Sector Low 41
35. UN FCCC Transgovernmental Networks Environment Public Sector High 1769
36. UN Forest Principles Transgovernmental Networks Environment, Sustainable Development Manufacturing, resources, retail Low 50
37. UN Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles  Multistakeholder Initiatives Gender Cross-cutting Medium 9
38. UN Principles for Responsible Investment Voluntary Regulations Environment, Human Rights, Labour Rights Finance and Investment Low 32
39. United Nations Global Compact  Voluntary Regulations Sustainable Development, Environment, Human Rights Cross-cutting Medium 1842
40. Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Voluntary Regulations Human Rights, Security Manufacturing, resources, retail Medium 13
41. WHO Strategy on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Transgovernmental Networks Public Health Public Sector Low 113
42. Wolfsberg Anti-Money Laundering Principles Multistakeholder Initiatives Economic regulation, Commerce Finance and Investment Low 1

Appendix 4: Variables included in descriptive statistics and regression models

See Table 2.

Table 2 Bold rows are those used in models which appear only in the appendix

Appendix 5: Correlations between independent variables

  • Logged GDP per capita and WB Voice and Accountability: 0.6450

  • Logged GDP per capita and logged population: − 0.2560

  • Logged GDP per capita and World Bank ODA (all countries): − .3370

  • WB Voice and Accountability and World Bank ODA (all countries): − 0.2613

  • V-Dem CS Participatory and V-Dem CS Repression: 0.8372

  • WB Voice and Accountability and V-Dem CS Participation: 0.7950

  • WB Voice and Accountability and V-Dem CS Repression: .8538

As is shown above, some of our independent variables are highly correlated, as we would expect them to be. Namely, our domestic opportunity structures variables tend to covary: they reflect the same general tendencies. Voice and Accountability and logged GDP per capita are 64% correlated; however, we feel there is no problem testing them within the same model, as it is quite common. We expect some multicollinearity here, as the underlying factors which shape the VaA score probably also influence the relative freedom of the economy and thus the country’s ability to grow rich, but not a perfect set of causal processes leading from one to the other. Logged GDP per capita and logged population are not highly correlated, and neither are Voice and Accountability and Official Development Aid, posing no problem for our models. Our resource variables (logged GDP per capita and World Bank ODA) are also not highly correlated. Therefore, the only potential issue is with the governance variables.

In order to see if these correlations among our governance variables influence the model, we use comparative and stepwise analyses. Given that only the governance variables are correlated, the stepwise comparison leaves the resources variables in the model.

Stepwise Model Building: UNFCCC and Governance. Model 2a is used in the main body of the article.

  UNFCCC (no governance) UNFCCC (Governance 1a) UNFCCC (Governance 1b) UNFCCC (Governance 2a) UNFCCC (Governance 2b) UNFCCC (Governance 3)
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
WGI Voice and Accountability    1.809
.001    2.4315
.000 1.8508
.008 2.2363
V-Dem CS Particip. (aggregate)      2.4564
.055 − 2.8153
.021    − 3.5307
V-Dem CS repression          − .03054
.920 0.2582
Log GDP per capita 4.8197
.000 3.1046
.001 4.4853
.000 2.9046
.003 3.0938
.001 2.9609
World Bank Net ODA (millions) − 9.4e–5
.637 − .0001
.612 − .00011
.583 − .0001
.657 − .0011
.001 − .0009
Year 0.1392
.102 .1936
.039 .1461
.094 .2057
.032 .1937
.038 0.2074
Log Population 1.5955
.000 1.7685
.000 1.7289
.000 1.8084
.000 1.7686
.000 1.8207
USA 97.271
.000 95.9514
.000 96.3583
.000 96.1376
.000 95.9536
.000 96.1449
Year 2009 2.4519
.001    2.4974
.001 2.5497
.001 2.5562
.001 2.5433
FCCC Host 13.05597
.012 12.9312
.013 13.0371
.012 12.9027
.013 12.9318
.013 12.8887
Per GDP CO2 .0038
.000 .006
.000 .0048
.000 .0055
.000 .00598
.000 0.0058
Fossil Fuel Consumption − .0508
.000 − .0396
.000 − .0438
.000 − .0422
.000 − .0396
.000 − 0.0425
Constant − 317.652
.06 − 424.026
.023 − 334.642
.054 − 445.994
.019 − 424.140
.023 − 449.511
N 1407   1325   1356   1325   1324   1325  
Est. R2 .6354   .6498   .6424   .6497   .6499   .6484  

Stepwise Model Building: UNGC and Governance. Model 2a is used in the main body of the article

  UNGC (no governance) UNGCC (Governance 1a) UNGCC (Governance 1b) UNGC
(Governance 2a)
(Governance 2b)
(Governance 3)
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
P Coef.
(Std. Err.)
WGI Voice and Accountability    .6328
.052    1.0415
.014 .60075
.172 .8637
V-Dem CS Particip. (aggregate)      − .5282
.546 − 2.2015
.059    − 2.8384
V-Dem CS repression          .02505
.918 .2352
Log GDP per capita 1.9692
.005 1.8384
.004 1.9496
.005 1.6961
.008 1.8422
.004 1.6863
World Bank Net ODA (millions) .0001
.604 .00009
.630 .00011
.591 .00011
.575 .00009
.634 .00011
Year .0936
.009 .0987
.005 .0955
.010 .1091
.003 .09856
.004 .11088
Log Population .9395
.000 .9879
.000 .9383
.000 1.0048
.000 .9876
.000 1.0090
USA 32.3116
.000 32.053
.000 32.399
.000 32.2324
.000 32.023
.000 32.2598
WGI Government Effectiveness − .7778
.091 − .9523
.052 − .7628
.097 − 1.0126
.040 − .9451
.050 − .9625
WGI Regulatory Quality .6399
.093 .4592
.250 .6851
.081 .5286
.186 .45597
.244 .5161
Constant − 208.512
.003 − 219.004
.001 − 211.8238
  − 238.1072
.001 − 218.7476
.001 − 241.5179
N 2142   2142   2142   2142   2142   2142  
Est. R2 .3955   .4065   .3920   .4020   .4064   .4002  

Analysis: As is shown above, even though the two V-Dem variables covary at a rate of .8372, they have very different coefficients in the overall models (UNFCCC and UNGC). While the CS Participatory Environment model (Governance 2a) changes the coefficient of the World Bank Voice and Accountability variable and introduces a negative effect—higher CS participation at home correlates to lower participation abroad—the CS Repression variable (2b) has almost no effect. Not only is it nearly random, but it does little to change either the other coefficients or the estimated R2. However, we test it in a combined model (Governance 3) because a) repression is considered, separately from the participatory environment, to be a potentially theoretically significant driver of NGO activity and b) as with ODA, we are responding to earlier reviewer comments. Essentially, the inclusion of the CS repression variable tests more theory while sacrificing the p value on the CS participatory environment variable due to multicollinearity

The same trends are represented in the UNGC model as in the UNFCCC model, although the CS participation variable remains significant only at the p < .1 level in the Governance 2a model. In this case, CS participation is NOT significant by itself, further suggesting that the Voice and Accountability and CS Participation variables are picking up separate trends. The better model (2a) appears to correct for omitted variable bias from 1b. Contrary to reviewer concerns, the UNGC model is robust even without model 2b (CS repress without CS participation). However, due to multicollinearity concerns with having all three governance variables in one model and the apparent inability of CS repression to provide predictive power, we use ‘Governance 2a’ as our ‘definitive’ model of CS participation in both GGIs

Appendix 6: Selected alternative regression models

See Tables 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Table 3 Comparisons of different measures of democracy
Table 4 WGI Rule of Law
Table 5 Different V-Dem CS measures
Table 6 Overseas Development Aid
Table 7 What counts as a CSO?

In response to earlier reviewer concerns, we tested a version of the model which includes overseas development aid. The working hypothesis was that overseas aid specifically targeted sectors of the political system which would enable NGOs to participate in global governance at greater rates than GDP per capita might suggest. However, we found no evidence to support this hypothesis using the World Bank’s indicator of net ODA. It is possible that different measures of ODA which are more specific—targeting civil society only instead of other development initiatives—could provide a finer-grained analysis than the World Bank data. Although we tested this with AidData, we do not feel that our data are robust enough to report any findings: the AidData observations end around 2009, limiting the number of cases included, particularly for the UNFCCC (Table 6).

Some might question whether the type of non-governmental organization counted affects our results; it could be that only certain types of civil society organizations (CSOs) follow the logic we set out or have access to particular types of resources. A form of robustness check, therefore, would be to separately test different agglomerations of CSO type across the same institutional data. Since it is nearly impossible to separate out the UNFCCC business associations from other types of nonprofits without checking each organization individually, we only test here the UNGC data, which is catalogued by the UNGC itself (organizations have to specify their type when they join). Three versions are tested above: the first is only NGOs (local and global). The second is the list which appears in the main body of the paper, which is NGOs, Labour Unions (local and global), Foundations, and Academia. The third has Business Associations (local and global) added to list 2.

Based on UNGC data only, it does appear that the type of CSO we are talking about matters: NGOs appear to have different dynamics driving UNGC participation than other actors. While the addition of Business Associations to our mid-range CSO set (model 3) creates only minor changes from our original model (model 2), the exclusion of all but NGOs (model 1) lends very different results. As can be seen from the progression of the model, as we add other types of CSOs and then Business Associations to the group counted, the effect size of Voice and Accountability goes up: .789 more NGOs, 1.04 more CSOs, and 1.08 more CSOs + Biz joining per year per 1-point increase in the WGI Voice and Accountability score. In addition, the effect of the ‘CS Participation Environment’ variable changes: while it appears to be insignificant for only traditional NGOs, once the range of possible organizations is widened, the civil society participatory environment variable becomes weakly significant and the effect size increases dramatically, by 2 CSOs per country-year. This raises a paradox: why would civil society participation in politics not matter to whether NGOs join the UNGC, but it would matter (negatively) to other CSO actors? We invite further reflection upon these results, and more research on the varying motivations for GGI participation from different types of civil society actors.

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Henry, L.A., Sundstrom, L.M., Winston, C. et al. NGO participation in global governance institutions: international and domestic drivers of engagement. Int Groups Adv 8, 291–332 (2019).

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  • Global governance
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Advocacy organizations
  • Participation
  • Political opportunity structure
  • UN Global Compact