The quest for legitimacy in world politics - international institutions' legitimation strategies
|AUTHORITY; GOVERNANCE; IMF; International Relations
|CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS
|REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
The article presents a top-down approach to the study of the empirical legitimacy of international institutions. It starts from the observation that international institutions' representatives are engaged in various strategies aimed at cultivating generalised support. The article asserts that such strategies should be taken into account to gain deeper insights into the legitimation process of international institutions. To systematise these legitimation efforts and facilitate their empirical analysis, the article introduces the concept of legitimation strategies, which are defined as goal-oriented activities employed to establish and maintain a reliable basis of diffuse support. An analytical differentiation between three types of legitimation strategies is introduced depending on the addressees of legitimation strategies, that is, member state governments, international institutions' staff, and the wider public. The applicability of the concept and the relevance of legitimation strategies for international institutions' communication, behaviour, and institutional design is demonstrated by an empirical analysis of the G8's and the IMF's reaction to legitimation crises in the recent past of both institutions. In addition, the case studies suggest that a balanced set of legitimation strategies that takes into account the legitimacy concerns of all three constituencies is more likely to be successful in improving legitimacy perceptions.
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