Inter-Organizationalism in International Relations: A Multilevel Framework of Analysis

  • Joachim A. Koops


This chapter argues that Inter-organizational relations (IORs) should be understood and analysed as a multilevel phenomenon involving a variety of different actors and players at different levels of analysis. Processes, dynamics, and outcomes of inter-organizational interaction occur and unfold during various moments of the inter-organizational life cycle and can be significantly influenced by powerful member states, individual leaders as well as bureaucratic and inter-institutional dynamics. Hence, for students, researchers and practitioners of inter-organizational relations, it is of prime importance to be aware of the different impact each level can have and how these levels interact in the wider context of cooperation or rivalry between organizations. This chapter provides a multilevel framework for analysing IORs. Section 2 introduces the multilevel analysis framework more generally and explains how it can be applied to the assessment of various aspects of IORs. Thereafter, Section 3 outlines in more detail the different levels (international system, member state, individual, bureaucratic and inter-institutional/inter-secretariat) and their significance for understanding, describing and explaining material, ideational as well as impact-related aspects of inter-organizational relations. Finally, Section 4 offers some overall conclusions and suggestions for future research.


European Union Member State Security Council Partner Organization Epistemic Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Akzin, B. (1955) New States and International Organizations, Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  2. Archer, C. (2001) International Organizations, 3rd Edition, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Biermann, R. (2008) ‘Towards a Theory of Inter-organizational Networking: The Euro-Atlantic Security Institutions Interacting’, Review of International Organizations, 3(2), 151–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Biermann, R. (2015) ‘Designing Cooperation among International Organizations. Autonomy Concerns, the Dual Consensus Rule, and Cooperation Failure’, Journal of International Organization Studies, 6:2, 45–66.Google Scholar
  5. Bolton, M. (2011) ‘Human Security After Collapse: Global Security in Post-Earthquake Haiti’, LSE Global Governance Research Paper, 01/2011, available online at, accessed on 5 April 2015.
  6. Brass, D. J., Galaskiewicz, J., Greve, H. R. and Tsai, W. (2004) ‘Taking Stock of Networks and Organizations: A Multilevel Perspective’, Academy of Management Journal, 47, 795–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bretherton, C. and Vogler, J. (2006) The European Union as a Global Actor, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Buzan, B. and Little, R. (2000) International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Byman, D. L. and Pollack, M. (2001), ‘Let Us Now Praise Great Men: Bringing the Statesman Back In’, International Security, Vol. 25, No. 4. (Spring, 2001), 107–46.Google Scholar
  10. Carayannis, E. G., Pirzadeh, A. and Popescu, D. (2012) Institutional Learning and Knowledge Transfer Across Epistemic Communities: The Tools for Global Governance, London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carlsnaes, W. (1992) ‘The Agency-Structure Problem in Foreign Policy Analysis’, International Studies Quarterly, 36, Sept 1992, 245–70.Google Scholar
  12. Caruso, U. (2007) Interplay between the Council of Europe, OSCE, EU and NATO, Bozen: European Academy.Google Scholar
  13. Chiozza, G. and Goemans, H. E. (2011) Leaders and International Conflict, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Choucri, N. (2011) Cyberpolitics in International Relations, MIT Press.Google Scholar
  15. Coppieters, B. (2015) ‘United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG)’, in: Koops, J., MacQueen, N., Tardy, T. and Williams, P. D. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 443–53.Google Scholar
  16. Cortel, A. P. and Peterson, S. (2006) ‘Dutiful Agents, rouge actors, or both? Staffing, voting rules and slack in the WHO and WTO’, in: Hawkins, D. G., Lake, D. A., Nielson, D. L. and Tierney, M. J. (eds.) Delegation and Agency in International Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 255–80.Google Scholar
  17. Cosgrove, C. A. and Twitchett, K. (eds., 1970) The New International Actors: The U.N and the E.E.C., Bristol: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  18. Costa, O. and Jorgensen, K. E. (eds., 2012) The Influence of International Institutions on the EU: When Multilateralism hits Brussels, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  19. Cox, R. W. and Jacobson, H. K. (eds., 1973) The Anatomy of Influence. Decision Making in International Organization, New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Cox, M. (2002) ‘Paradigm Shifts and 9/11: International Relations After the Twin Towers’, Security Dialogue, 33(2), available online at accessed on 2 January 2015.
  21. Cross, M. K. D. (2013), ‘The Military Dimension of European Security: An Epistemic Community Approach’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 42(1), 45–64.Google Scholar
  22. Doty, R. L. (1997) ‘Aporia: A Critical Exploration of the Agent-Structure Problematique in International Relations Theory’, European Journal of International Relations, 3(3), 365–92.Google Scholar
  23. Drezner, D. (2009) ‘The Power and Perils of International Regime Complexity’, Perspectives on Politics, Vol 7, No. 1, 65–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Enderlein, H., Wallti, S. and Zurn, M. (2010) Handbook on Multi-level Governance, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Feld, W. and Jordan, R. S. (1988), International Organizations, New York: PraegerGoogle Scholar
  26. Gehring, T. and Faude, B. (2013) ‘The Dynamics of Regime Complexes: Microfoundations and Systemic Effects’, Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, Vol. 19, No. 1, 119–30.Google Scholar
  27. Gibson, D. and Smilor, R., (1991) ‘Key Variables in Technology Transfer: A Field Study Based Empirical Analysis’, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 8, 287–312.Google Scholar
  28. Goldstein, J., Kahler, M., Keohane, R. O. and Slaughter, A.M. (eds., 2001) ‘Legalization and World Politics’, Special Issue of International Organization, 54, No. 3.Google Scholar
  29. Graeger, N. and Haugevik, K. (2011) ‘The EU’s performance with and within NATO: assessing objectives, outcomes and organizational practices’, Journal of European Integration, 33(60), 743–57.Google Scholar
  30. Haas, E. B. (2004 [1958]) The Uniting of Europe: Politics, Social and Economic Forces, 1950–1957, University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  31. Haas, E. B. and Whiting, A. S. (1956) Dynamics of International Relations, New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  32. Haas, P. (1992) ‘Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination’, International Organization, 46:1, 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hawkins, D. G., Lake, D. A., Nielson, D. L. and Tierney, M. J. (eds., 2006) Delegation and Agency in International Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Hobson, J.M. (2000) The State and International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Hofmann, S. (2009) ‘Overlapping institutions in the realm of international security: The case of NATO and ESDP’, Perspectives on Politics, 7 (1), 45–52.Google Scholar
  36. International Crisis Group (2010) ‘Haiti Stabilisation and Reconstruction after the Quake’, Latin America/Caribbean Report N°32 - 31 March, Brussels: International Crisis Group.Google Scholar
  37. IOBIO, Biographical Dictionary of Secretaries-General of International Organizations, available at: IO BIO entries, including the entries’ author names, can be found in alphabetical order by Executive Head.
  38. Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2005) Italy and Peacekeeping: Italian Missions for Peace in the World, Rome: Italian Ministry of Foreign AffairsGoogle Scholar
  39. Jacobi, D. and Freyberg-Inan, A. (2012) ‘The Forum: Human Being(s) in International Relations’, International Studies Review, 14, 645–65.Google Scholar
  40. Jönsson, C. (1986) ‘Interorganization Theory and International Organization’, International Studies Quarterly, 30:1, 39–57.Google Scholar
  41. Jönsson, C. (1987) International Aviation and the Politics of Regime Change, London: Frances Pinter.Google Scholar
  42. Jönsson, C. (1993) ‘International Organization and Co-operation: An Interorganizational Perspective’, International Social Science Journal, 138, 463–77.Google Scholar
  43. Jørgensen, K. E. (2009) The European Union and International Organisations, London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Julmy, S. (2011) ‘Coordinating the earthquake response: lessons from Leogane, western Haiti’, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine, Issue 49, February 2011, available online at accessed on 2 January 2015.
  45. Jungcurt, S. (2011) ‘The Role of Expert Networks in Reducing Regime Conflict: Contrasting Cases in the Management of Plant Genetic Resources’, in: Oberthür, S. and Stokke, O. S (eds.) Managing Institutional Complexity: Regime Interplay and Global Environmental Change, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 171–98.Google Scholar
  46. Kelman, H. C. (1970) ‘The role of the individual in international relations: Some conceptual and methodological considerations’, Journal of International Affairs, 24, 1–17.Google Scholar
  47. Kelman, H. C. (2012) ‘Social Psychology and the Study of Peace: Personal Reflections’, in: Tropp, L. R. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Intergroup Conflict, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 362–72.Google Scholar
  48. Kille, K. J. and Scully, R. M. (2003) ‘Executive Heads and the Role of Intergovernmental Organizations: Expansionist Leadership in the United Nations and the European Union’, Political Psychology, 24:1, 175–98.Google Scholar
  49. Kille, K. J. and Hendrickson, R. C. (2010) ‘Secretary-General Leadership Across the United Nations and NATO: Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, and Operation Allied Force’, Global Governance, 16:4, 505–23.Google Scholar
  50. Koops, J. (2008) ‘Towards Effective and Integrative Inter-organizationalism’, in: Brockmann, K., Hauck, H. B. and Reigeluth, S. (eds.) From Conflict to Regional Stability: Linking Security and Development, Berlin DGAP Forschungsbericht, 23 – 31 – available online at Accessed 7 May 2015.Google Scholar
  51. Koops, J. A. (ed.) (2009) Military Crisis Management: The Challenge of Interorganizationalism, Studia Diplomatica, Brussels: Egmont Institute.Google Scholar
  52. Koops, J.A. (2011) The European Union as an Integrative Power? Assessing the EU’s ‘Effective Multilateralim’ towards NATO and the United Nations, Brussels: VUBPress.Google Scholar
  53. Koops, J. A. (2012a) ‘NATO’s Influence on the EU’s Evolution as a Security Actor’, in: Costa, O. and Jorgensen, K.E. (eds.) The Influence of International Institutions on the European Union, Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  54. Koops, J. A. (2012b) ‘Peace Operation Partnerships: Assessing Cooperation Mechanisms between Secretariats’, ZIF Policy Briefing, March 2012, Berlin: Centre for International Peace Operations.Google Scholar
  55. Koops, J.A. and Tardy, T. (2015) ‘The United Nations Inter-organizational Relations in Peacekeeping’, in Koops, J.A., Macqueen, N., Tardy, T. and Williams, P.D. (eds.) Oxford Handbook of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 60–77.Google Scholar
  56. Koremenos, B., Lipson, C. and Snidal, D. (eds., 2004) The Rational Design of International Institutions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Kristoff, M. and Panarelli, L. (2010) ‘Haiti: A Republic of NGOs?’, Peacebrief 23, 26 April 2014, United States Institute of Peace.Google Scholar
  58. Kupferschmidt, F. (2006) ‘Putting the Strategic Partnership to the Test: Cooperation between NATO and the EU in Operation Althea’, SWP Research Paper No. 3 (Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik).Google Scholar
  59. Langan-Fox, J. and Cooper, C. L. (eds., 2013) Boundary-Spanning in Organizations: Network, Influence and Conflict, London: Routlege.Google Scholar
  60. Lebow, N. (2012) ‘The Palette of Human Nature’, in: Jacobi, D. and Freyberg-Inan, A. (2012) ‘The Forum: Human Being(s) in International Relations’, International Studies Review, 646–49.Google Scholar
  61. Levin, A. L. (1979) ‘The Organization of American States and the United Nations: Relations in the Peace and Security Field’, in: Andemicael, B. (ed.) Regionalism and the United Nations, UNITAR, New York: Oceana Publications, 147–224.Google Scholar
  62. Levy, J.S. (2003) ‘Political Psychology and Foreign Policy’, in: Sears, D.O., Huddy, L., and Jervis, R. (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 253–84.Google Scholar
  63. Margesson, R. and Taft-Morales, M. (2010) ‘Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response’, Washington: Congressional Research Service, 2 February 2010.Google Scholar
  64. Marks, G. (1993) ‘Structural policy and multi-level governance in the EC’, in: Cafruny, A. and Rosenthal, G. (eds.), The State of the European Community: The Maastricht Debate and Beyond, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 391–411.Google Scholar
  65. Marks, G. (1996) ‘An actor-centred approach to multi-level governance’, Regional and Federal Studies, 6(2), 20–38.Google Scholar
  66. Marks, G. and Hooghe, L. (2004) ‘Contrasting visions of multi-level governance’, in: Bache, I. and Flinders, M. (eds.), Multi-level Governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 15–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. McDermott, R. (2004) Political Psychology in International Relations, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  68. Mitrany, D. (1943) A Working Peace System: An Argument for the Functional Development of International Organization, New York: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  69. Morgenthau, H. J. (1948) Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  70. Novosseloff, A. (2012) ‘United Nations – European Union Cooperation in the Field of Peacekeeping: Challenges and Prospects’, GGI Analysis No. 4/2012, Brussels: Global Governance Institute.Google Scholar
  71. Organ, D.W. (1971) ‘Linking Pins Between Organizations and Environment: Individuals do the Interacting’, Business Horizons, 14:6, 73–80.Google Scholar
  72. Oestreich, J. E. (ed., 2012) International Organizations as Self-Directed Actors: A Framework for Analysis, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  73. Ojanen, H. (2004) ‘Inter-organisational relations as a factor shaping the EU’s external identity’, UPI Working Paper, 49. The Finnish Institute of International AffairsGoogle Scholar
  74. Onuf, N. (1995) ‘Levels’, European Journal of International Relations, 1/1, 35–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Orsini, A., Morin, J.-F., Young, O. (2013) ‘Regime Complexes: A Buzz, A boom or a Boost for Global Governance?’, Global Governance, A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, Vol. 19, No. 127–39.Google Scholar
  76. Patrick, J. (2011) ‘Haiti Earthquake Response: Emerging Evaluation Lessons’, Evaluation Insights, Number 1, June 2011.Google Scholar
  77. Pease, K-K.S. (2010) International Organizations, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  78. Pfeffer, J. and Salancik, G. R. (2003) The External Control of Organizations. A Resource Dependence Perspective, 2nd ed., Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Provan, K.G. and Sydow, J. (2008) ‘Evaluating inter-organizational relationships’, in: Cropper, S., Ebers, M., Huxham, C. and Smith Ring, P. (eds.) The Oxford handbook of inter-organizational relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 691–718.Google Scholar
  80. Raustiala, K. and Victor, D. G. (2004) ‘The Regime Complex for Plant Genetic Resource’s, International Organization, Volume 58, Issue 02, April 2004, 277–309.Google Scholar
  81. Reichard, M. (2006) The EU-NATO Relationship: A Legal and Political Perspective, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  82. Reinalda, B. (2009) Routledge History of International Organizations: From 1815 to the present day, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  83. Rittberger, V., Zangl, B. and Kruck, A. (2012) International Organization, 2nd ed., Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  84. Rodrigues dos Santos, B. (2015) ‘Mission of the Representative of the Secretary-General in the Dominican Republic (DOMREP), in: Koops, J.A., Macqueen, N., Tardy, T. and Williams, P.D. (eds.) Oxford Handbook of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 214–221.Google Scholar
  85. Rosenau, J. N. (ed., 1976) Comparing Foreign Policies: Theories, Findings and Methods, New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  86. Rosenau, J. N. (2012) ‘Foreword’, in: Smith, S., Hadfield, A. and Dunne, T. (eds.) Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. v–x.Google Scholar
  87. Schumacher, B. (2012) ‘The Influence of the Council of Europe on the European Union: Resource Exchange and Domain Restriction as Venues for Inter-Institutional Influence’, in: Costa, O. and Jorgensen, K. E. (eds.) The Influence of International Institutions on the EU: When Multilateralism hits Brussels, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 186–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Sewell, J. P. (1966) Functionalism and World Politics, Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Singer, J. D. (1961) ‘The Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations, World Politics’, The International System: Theoretical Essays, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 77–92.Google Scholar
  90. Sjöstedt, G. (1977) The External Role of the European Community, Farnborough: Saxon House.Google Scholar
  91. Smithers, P. (1979) ‘Towards Greater Coherence Among Inter-Governmental Organizations Through Governmental Control’, in: Andemicael, B. (ed.) Regionalism and the United Nations, UNITAR, New York: Oceana Publications, 13–70.Google Scholar
  92. Stewart, E.J. (2006) The European Union and Conflict Prevention. Policy Evolution and Outcome, Münster: LIT Verlag.Google Scholar
  93. Stewart, E.J. (2008) ‘Restoring EU–OSCE cooperation for pan-European conflict prevention’, Contemporary Security Policy, 29(2), 266–84.Google Scholar
  94. Stern, L.W. and Craig, C.S. (1976) ‘Interorganizational data systems’, in: Evan, W. M. (ed.) Interorganizational Relations, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press, 409–27.Google Scholar
  95. Tardy, T. (2013) ‘Partnering in crisis management: Ten years of UN-EU cooperation’, EUISS Brief No. 30, 13 September 2013, Paris: EU Institute for Security Studies.Google Scholar
  96. Tavares, R. (2010) Regional Security: The Capacity of International Organizations, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  97. Trondal, J., Marcussen, M., Larsson, T. and Veggeland, F. (2010) Unpacking International organisations; The Dynamics of compound bureaucracies, Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  98. Van Willigen, N. and Koops, J. A. (2015) ‘The EU’s Relationship with NATO and the OSCE’, in: Jorgensen, K. E., Aarstad, A. K., Drieskens, E., Laatikainen, K. and Tonra, B. (eds.) The Sage Handbook of European Foreign Policy, London: SAGE, 734–47.Google Scholar
  99. Varwick, J. (ed.) (2005) Die Beziehungen zwischen NATO und EU: Partnerschaft, Konkurrenz, Rivalität?, Opladen: Barbara Budrich.Google Scholar
  100. Varwick, J. and Koops, J. (2009) ‘The European Union’s Relations with NATO: Shrewd Interorganizationalism in the Making?’, in: Jorgensen, K. E. (ed.) The European Union and International Organizations, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  101. Waltz, K. (1959) Man, the State, and War, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  102. Waltz, K. (1979) Theory of International Politics, New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  103. Weiss, T. G. (1975) International Bureaucracy, London: Lexington Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim A. Koops
    • 1
  1. 1.Vesalius CollegeVrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Global Governance Institute (GGI)BrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations