Delegation and Agency in International Organizations. Edited by Darren G. Hawkins, David A. Lake, Daniel L. Nielson, and Michael J. Tierney. 424p. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. $80.00 cloth, $34.99 paper.
This volume examines and exemplifies the usefulness of principal-agent (P-A) theory for the study of international relations through a set of well-integrated analyses of delegation to international (governmental) organizations (IOs). The editors begin with some useful, explicit definitions of key terms. They define delegation as a revocable “grant of authority” from one or more “principal(s)” to an “agent,” which enables “the latter to act on behalf of the former” in a specified domain and/or for a limited period of time. The agent's discretion in how to pursue the principal's objectives is a direct inverse function of the precision of the rules laid down by the principal. Agent autonomy, by contrast, is defined as the possible range of actions the agent can take contrary to the principal's interests, net whatever mechanism the principal may have put in place to control the agent. To the extent that an agent actually pursues his own interests contrary to the principal's, we see agency slack.