Global governance organizations: Legitimacy and authority in conflict

Jonathan G.S. Koppell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Global governance organizations (GGOs) are frequently maligned as both illegitimate and ineffective. With the growing prominence of entities that promulgate global rules governing trade, communications, finance, and transport, these shortcomings take on greater importance. This essay presents a theoretical framework to understand the challenge of legitimacy for GGOs. It argues that GGOs tend to face trade-offs between legitimacy and authority, but that widespread usages of these important terms conflate or confuse them and thus obscure critical issues in GGO politics. Once these terms are more clearly defined, we see more easily that GGOs must sometimes violate democratic norms, sacrificing equality and bureaucratic neutrality, to satisfy key constituencies and thus retain power. The argument lays the foundation for an empirical study that demonstrates how the structure and processes adopted by GGOs are intended to satisfy the conflicting demands of legitimacy and authority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-203
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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