Navigating Institutional Complexity: Actors and Strategies in Densely Populated Global Governance Spaces

How can we understand global governance?

Project Summary

Global Governance Spaces are areas of policy making, research and practice characterized by rapid growth in the number and scope of international agreements and organizations. Examples of such spaces are climate change, global health, and intellectual property rights. The actions and interactions of states and other actor in such areas are fundamentally shaped by this institutional complexity.

The project addresses questions that are important for scholars and practitioners alike:

  • How do patterns of overlap within institutional complexes evolve over time?
  • What strategies do states and non-state actors choose to navigate institutional complexes?
  • To what extent do these strategies empower otherwise weak players in institutional complexes?

We draw on several disciplines – international relations (regime theory), complexity science, organization science and public policy. We explore the interactions of multiple forms of cooperation in institutional complexes using a multi-method research design combining quantitative text analysis, machine learning, statistical analysis, and case studies.

The aim is to describe and analyse the global governance landscape, in particular areas for the benefit of policy makers and activists, who think about how to engage the myriad of contemporary global governance institutions in a way that best meets their goals.

Research Team

Oliver Westerwinter
University of St. Gallen

Dirk Lehmkuhl
University of St. Gallen

Stephanie Hofmann
Principal Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Lasse Gerrits
Associated Member
University of Rotterdam

Benjamin Faude
Associated Member
London School of Economics

Rahima Guliyeva
Associated Member
Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM)

Kenneth W. Abbott
Associated Member
Arizona State University

David Coen
Associated Member
University College London

Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni
Associated Member
University of Cambridge

Orfeo Fioretos
Associated Member
Temple University

Jessica Green
Associated Member
University of Toronto

Randall Henning
Associated Member
American University

Nico Krisch
Associated Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Gary Marks
Associated Member
University of North Carolina

Jon Pevehouse
Associated Member
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tyler Pratt
Associated Member
Yale University

Angel Saz-Carranza
Associated Member
ESADE Business and Law School





Policy domains


Host Institution