Choosing International Organizations: Increasing Leverage over Domestic Political Polarization and Institutional Constraints
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Joining an international organization (IGO) entails costs, including sovereignty costs. However countries continue to join and create international organizations. The literature has explained this pattern by looking at the causes of cooperation at the international level. But the domestic causes of IGO membership has not been explored in the same manner. This work argues that domestic leaders often choose to join IGOs to overcome political constraints at the domestic level. Leaders who face strong political constraints or work in political system with high numbers of veto players are more likely to join an IGO to push for policy change. Yet countries do not join any organization indiscriminately. The organization that the country joins will depend on the organization's purpose and level of institutionalization. By using a new dataset set of IGOs characteristics I found that indeed in situations of high political constraints leaders choose organizations with high levels of institionalization that enables them to push and lock-in policy changes.