Protecting economic reform by seeking membership in liberal international organizations

by Steen-Sprang, Louise Marie

Abstract (Summary)
Domestic leaders use international institutions to increase their domestic political power and protect favored policies. During economic transformation, governments can protect reform policies by seeking membership in an international organization with specific liberal membership requirements. The accession process into such an organization binds governments to reform policies and increases their ability to withstand attempts by reform opponents to weaken the reform process. Two approaches from the literature on economic transformation yield competing hypotheses predicting when governments will use the accession process to protect economic reform. The dominant J-curve approach predicts that reforming governments seek outside help during economic transformation when short-term losers threaten reform success. Short-term losers pose this threat when they are able to hold the government highly accountable to the general public, act as veto-players, or use mass uprisings against reform policies. According to the partial reform approach, reforming governments seek outside help during economic transformation when short-term winners, not losers, threaten reform success. Short-term winners pose this threat when public officials prevent reform policies from being implemented or the government is not accountable to the general populace. The competing hypotheses are tested using duration analysis and six comparative case studies. The results indicate that the J-curve approach explains the majority of cases when seeking occurs, but that the partial reform approach accurately explains a small subset of cases. Regardless of who reform opponents are, governments can use seeking membership in a liberal international organization to protect economic reform. More often the opponents are short-term losers, but short-term winners can also drive governments to seek external assistance during economic transformation. In this way, international organizations are a crucial tool that domestic leaders deliberately use to increase their domestic power and protect favored policies such as economic reform.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:international organizations economic reform liberalization credible commitments accession negotiations


Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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