How the Rise of Public-Private Partnerships is Changing International Governance

Presentation to coincide with the recent launch of a new book: Governance Entrepreneurs: International Organizations and the Rise of Global Public-Private Partnerships (Cambridge University Press)

Public Private Partnerships have transformed the nature of the multilateral system and global governance. They are a decentralized and voluntary mode of collaboration that combines public purpose and private authority in different arrangements that include actors like companies, foundations, and civil society organizations. How can we account for such substantial institutional change in a system made by states and for states? What has been the impact of Public Private Partnerships on global objectives?  

The talk will advance the argument that international organizations continue to play a central role as governance entrepreneurs of coalitions between states, private actors and public agencies that actively seek institutional innovations for specific causes.  This theory of dynamic institutional innovation challenges existing explanation of change that focus either on grand inter-governmental bargains or bureaucratic mission-extension insulated from principal control.  New comparative research documents the conditions under which governance entrepreneurs have advanced partnerships on seemingly intractable problems such as health pandemics, climate finance, clean energy, business and human rights, or the rights and health of women and infants, while states retreated from their obligations or faced negotiations gridlocks. Given that institutional change is rarely neutral, the research also raises further questions about the winners and losers from processes of change in global governance, and the contestation and institutionalization of partnerships.

Liliana B. Andonova

Liliana B. Andonova is Professor for International Relations/Political Science at The Graduate Institute Geneva. She was previously a Giorgio Ruffolo Fellow in Sustainability Science at Harvard University, USA; Jean Monnet Fellow and Senior Fernand Braudel Fellow at the European University Institute, Italy; and Assistant Professor in Government and Environmental Studies at Colby College, USA.  Andonova is recipient of the 2017 Gender and Environment Advocate Award of UN Environment.  She is author of Governance Entrepreneurs. International Organizations and the Rise of Global Public-Private Partnerships (2017); Transnational Politics of the Environment. EU Integration and Environmental Policy in Eastern Europe (2004); co-author of Transnational Climate Change Governance (2014); and co-editor of The Comparative Politics of Transnational Climate Governance (2018), as well as numerous articles. Her current research focuses on institutional change, public-private partnerships, governance effectiveness, transnational networks, and climate cooperation.