The project “Behind the Scenes: Mapping the Role of Treaty Secretariats in International Environmental Policy-Making” of theDFG-Research Unit “International Public Administration” explores how and to what extent international public administrations (IPAs) interact with political and non-political actors of various levels during and in-between major international conferences. The project seeks to identify to what extent and under which conditions convention secretariats can act as partially autonomous actors.

Theoretically, the project draws on hypotheses and concepts developed in accounts of IPA activity rooted in principal-agent theory, sociological institutionalism, and organizational theory. The study will put assumed causal mechanisms to an empirical test and thus contribute to further theory building. From a methodological point of view, the project seeks to develop a new approach to measure the interaction between different actors at the international level. Using SNA as our main methodological approach, it goes beyond previous research in this area. In order to achieve the highest possible accuracy, it will develop a multi-tiered approach, drawing not only on measures of Social Network Analysis (SNA) but also on hierarchical cluster analysis of the matrix of Euclidean and correlational distance measures, regression analysis and analysis of Twitter data.

By exploring the mechanisms that enhance an administrative actor’s ability to communicate and interact with policy-makers, the project contributes to a better understanding of the working of IPAs at the intersection of public administration and world politics.

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