Centre for European and International Studies Research

International Organizations and Policy Diffusion in Historical Perspective

This research project is interested in the role of international organizations (IOs) in the diffusion, or transfer, of policy ideas and actual policies, with a particular focus on European IOs. The project seeks to contribute to an improved understanding of the activities of multiple IOs such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, for example, in generating new ideas and policies and mediating them across different IOs, their formal committees and informal networks, and into both European organisations and states with decision-making powers. Taking such a broader perspective on European integration in global context helps to de-centre the present-day European Union (EU) which was frequently the recipient of new policy ideas developed elsewhere, as in the case of environmental protection and the United Nations, for example, before playing a more active role in transferring or diffusing them in Europe and beyond. While one part of the project focusses on European IOs in the diffusion of policy ideas and policies after 1945, the second part explores long-term continuities in the work of various IOs from inter-war Europe into the post-war period and the process of "core Europe" integration in the present-day EU.

This is a joint project with Professor Kiran K. Patel from the University of Maastricht, Moreover, It is a core component of a larger project "The Transformative Power of Europe" funded by the German Research Council and coordinated by Professors Tanja Börzel and Thomas Risse at the Free University of Berlin, two eminent scholars of comparative politics and International Relations interested in the role of the EU as a global promoter of policy ideas and policies, and their diffusion into other regional integration organizations. Thus, the project has a strong interdisciplinary focus on explaining the role of a variety of European IOs including the EU in policy transfer or diffusion over time, seeking to explore the role of the EU as a recipient of policy ideas and policies as much as their exporter.


Prof. Wolfram Kaiser