Domestic officials increasingly play a decisive role in international affairs. States, for example, appoint oversight committees (for example, comitology, congressional supervision, or regulators groups) to monitor the behavior of international organizations (IOs) (Pollack 1997 and 2003). While such committees are frequently studied as mechanisms that track delegated authority, this chapter examines how and why the introduction of such actors may open up the possibility for new governors to emerge, altering the very terms of global governance.
Existing research tends to take two dominant views of these committees. From the principal–agent perspective, they serve as a “police patrol” that represents state interests. They report to national executives on excessive international organization activism, reining in such behavior. Research from the constructivist strain has argued, by contrast, that international cooperation socializes participants, undermining ties to national interests (Joerges and Neyer 1997; Wessels 1998). Over time, then, oversight committees come to reflect the preferences of international bureaucracies. Empirically, there is evidence to support both claims. In some cases, oversight committees have dutifully fulfilled their delegated role. But in others, they have become loyal defenders of their international organizations. Neither argument has developed a theoretical framework that satisfactorily explains variation in oversight outcomes.
Building on the insights from transgovernmental theory (Keohane and Nye 1974; Slaughter 2004), I argue that this variation can be understood by making two additional assumptions: states are not unitary actors but are composed of multiple sub-state units and these sub-state units have their own preferences distinct from national executives.