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. (2015): "India, Emerging Powers and Global Human Rights. Yes, But ...". In: Doutje Lettinga/Lars van Troost (Eds.): Shifting Power and Human Rights Diplomacy. India. Amsterdam: Amnesty International Netherlands, S. 55-63.
Stephen, Matthew D. (2014): "Rising Powers, Global Capitalism and Liberal Global Governance. A Historical Materialist Account of the BRICs Challenge". In: European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 20, No. 4, 21.05.2014, S. 912-938. (Vorab online publiziert 21. Mai 2014)
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. (2012): "Rising Regional Powers and International Institutions. The Foreign Policy Orientations of India, Brazil and South Africa". In: Global Society, Vol. 26, No. 3, Special Issue "Regional Powers and Global Redistribution", S. 289-309.
Working Papers

Benjamin Faude and Matthew D. Stephen (2016): 'After Western Hegemony: Rising Powers and International Institutional Change,' Presented at the Annual Convention of the American Political Science Association (APSA), Philadelphia, September 2016.

Matthew D. Stephen and Michal Parizek (2015): 'New Pressures on the WTO: The Rise of Illiberal Trading States,' Paper presented at the 8th Annual Conference on the Political Economy of International Organizations (PEIO), Berlin, 12 February 2015.

Research fields

International Relations

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Site structure

Research Unit Global Governance

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