Power Shifts, International Institutions and Inter-Institutional Strategies


A shifting distribution of international power is a fundamental contemporary trend. Emerging powers are changing the global balance of power, altering the character of the global political economy, and bringing new interests and ideas into the international arena. At the same time, international politics is characterized by a growing number of international institutions. These range from formal intergovernmental organizations like the WTO and IMF, to informal clubs like the G7, BRICS and IBSA forums, to commonly accepted ideas and norms. Few of these institutions are unaffected by the economic shift towards emerging markets or by the power shift between national governments. The impact of a changed power balance can occur within the institutions themselves, by altering their status and effectiveness, or by changing the relations of international institutions to each other. Moreover, these institutions have important effects on the global economy and on inter-state relations.

This research project investigates how international institutions are affected by international power shifts and what forms of institutional change are emerging. It is based on collaboration amongst present and former WZB researchers.

Main content

Selected Publications

Stephen, Matthew D. (2014): "States, Norms and Power. Emerging Powers and Global Order". In: Millennium - Journal of International Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3, S. 888-896.
Stephen, Matthew D./Parízek, Michal (2019): "New Powers and the Distribution of Preferences in Global Trade Governance. From Deadlock and Drift to Fragmentation". In: New Political Economy, Vol. 24, No. 6, S. 735-758. (vorab online publiziert 14.08.2018)
Parízek, Michal/Stephen, Matthew (2020): "The Representation of BRICS in Global Economic Governance. Reform and Fragmentation of Multilateral Institutions". In: Soo Yeon Kim (Ed.): BRICS and the Global Economy. The Political Economy of the BRICS Countries, Vol. 2. Singapore: World Scientific, S. 361-389.

Research fields

International Relations