Diffuse Agency and Institutional Dynamics in Global Governance – the Cases of the World Bank and the WTO: Panel: Institutionalisation and norms in global governance

Michael Stewart Strange, Peter Aagaard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Global governance has no central authority, so global political leadership must be understood in new terms. When direct use of power through hierarchies is no longer an option, policy research has turned to the concept of soft power. Central to soft power issues is normative change. Normative change occurs through the introduction, framing and facilitation of new paradigms, programmes and public opinions. Consequently, it cannot be limited to a narrow elite but involves a wider intellectual exchange between academics, policy practitioners, media professionals, NGOs and private firms. In such a complex global environment leadership cannot be understood through the behaviour of a single powerful actor. Single actors do not control normative development in global governance.

Furthermore, this complex character of global governance means that the actors involved become themselves internally complex as they must navigate an evolving but uncertain series of overlapping policy problems (e.g. AIDS and poverty; trade and environment). Actors find their identities shift as their borders blur due to their issue-remit becoming increasingly uncertain and diffuse. In other words, normative change in global governance involves multiple actors who by their engagement are themselves changed. To better understand this process, the paper will consider normative change within global governance in the cases of the World Bank and the WTO.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventInternational Studies Association Annual Convention : Theory vs Policy? Connecting Scholars and Practitioners - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 17 Feb 201020 Feb 2010
Conference number: 51


ConferenceInternational Studies Association Annual Convention
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans


  • Agency, Global Governance

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