International Authority Database


This project theorizes patterns of international public authority and translates them into a data model that is suitable for the analysis of how various types of international institutions govern national and international politics. The project is motivated by a qualitative shift in international relations: the phenomenon that international institutions, and especially International Organizations (IOs), gain in public authority and profoundly influence internal affairs of states by reducing their room of maneuver. As a result, the principle of national sovereignty is transformed and loses its significance and structuring quality for international and domestic politics.

Based on this development, our research goal focuses on the conceptualization of international public authority and the creation of appropriate empirical data that pertain to IOs' ability to shape and affect international and national outcomes. International authority is defined as the ability of international institutions to make competent judgments and collectively binding decisions. We further differentiate between two types of public authority: political and epistemic. With this conceptualization, we derive a multidimensional operationalization of authority built upon the authorization, the implementation, and the intrusiveness of specific functions of formal IOs. These functions involve monitoring, enforcement, norm interpretation, agenda setting, rule making, and policy evaluation. For each of these functions, we develop a detailed codebook and collect data that captures cross-sectional and temporal variations in the degree of formal authority assigned to these functions.

These data flow into a relational database, which models the structures, dimensions, and processes conducive to international authority. The modular data approach offers in addition collaborative opportunities for other scholars within the field. As an example, a common sample of IOs has been agreed upon in coordination with international research teams from the University of Stockholm and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.