Global Governance Centre
21 November 2019

The logic of legitimacy-building by international business organizations

Our latest Colloquium compared the strategies of the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce in their (con)quest of legitimacy during the interwar period.

How have international business organizations emerged and persisted for almost a century? How did they manage to impose themselves as legitimate representatives of business both towards their members and intergovernmental organizations? Upon which resources they built their representativeness claims? 

These questions were addressed by Marieke Louis, Associate Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po Grenoble, at the Global Governance Centre's bi-weekly Colloquium series on Monday, 18th November 2019 with the participation of our discussant Rodrigo Fagundes Cezar, PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant at the Graduate Institute.

Marieke Louis' original analysis does not only understand business organizations in terms of lobbies or interest groups, but also in terms of diplomatic networks and practices. Therefore, she suggests that these organizations generated a 'global business diplomacy' in an emerging 'transnational business space'.

Louis compared the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) created in 1919 and active in the League of Nations; and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) created in 1920 and related to International Labour Organization. She pointed out similarities and differences across an internal and an external dimension of legitimacy building, concluding that the legitimation strategies of international business organizations stand over a fragile compromise between these dimensions of specialization and generalization/universalization. 

Our next Global Governance bi-weekly Colloquium Series will take place on Monday 2nd December, on "Culture as medicine? Community health workers in global health governance" by Tine Hanrieder.