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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
May 2024
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Book description

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, cooperation among nations was based on international regimes and formal intergovernmental organizations. However, since the 1990s, informal modes of global governance, such as informal intergovernmental organizations and transnational public-private governance initiatives, have proliferated. Even within formal intergovernmental organizations, informal means of influence and informal procedures affect outcomes whilst, around all these institutions, even more informal networks shape agendas. This volume introduces and analyzes these three types of informality in governance: informality of, within, and around institutions. An introductory chapter traces the rise of informal governance and suggests a range of theoretical perspectives and variables that may explain this surge. Empirical chapters then apply these and other explanations to diverse issue areas and cross-cutting issues, often using newly developed datasets or original case study research. The concluding chapter sets out a research agenda on informality in global governance, including its normative implications.


‘The role of informality in world politics is indisputable and yet rarely the subject of mainstream research. The contributors to this volume aim to change that. Their analysis of informal institutions, as well as informality’s role in and around more formal institutions, is an important step toward better understanding the various dynamics through which global politics works.’

Deborah Avant - Distinguished University Professor and Sié Chéou-Kang Chair, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

‘Students of global governance have always known about the importance of informal rules, but it was always much easier to study the formal ones. Consequently, we studied only one half of the rules of global governance – until now. This carefully, rigorously, and persuasively crafted volume, with chapters on the different kinds of informality in global governance, will become a standard-bearer on the subject for years to come.’

Michael Barnett - University Professor of International Relations and Political Science, George Washington University

‘The rise of informal governance, either through informal organizations or transnational governance initiatives, is one of the most important trends in global governance. This excellent edited volume, with its outstanding cast, helps us understand the causes and implications of this trend in an insightful and innovative fashion.’

Jon C. W. Pevehouse - Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison


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