“How Do International Organizations Work?”




Associate Professor of Political Science

Project Summary

Over the summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a team of students, under Professor Julia Gray (Political Science), to research the vitality and performance of various international organizations. As a student intending on majoring in International Relations, with an interest in business and economics, I found this project appealing as it combined the two subjects. Working on this project helped me broaden my knowledge in the behind-the-scenes of global cooperation -- politically, economically and in security. I was able to gain insight on the depth of the additional cooperation across various fields, that must be done first, before an economic organization can achieve their main goal.

Throughout the research, the main aspects to notice were the longevity of different organizations and the level of cooperation. Why do some international organizations work better than others? Why do some last longer, whereas others dissolve? This project was a two-step process. Each student was assigned to research one organization at a time, from a pre-arranged list of economic organizations, unions and agreements. The students must then first create a timeline for their assigned organization, recording all the meetings (main & internal) & activities (achievements, setbacks, disputes, etc.), from the founding year to present, or the year of disbandment. Second, we were to transfer the information from the timelines to spreadsheets, categorizing all the data.

Number-wise, we found out that out of all the organizations the team has worked on, about 10% of the organizations had dissolved and 38% became ineffective organizations. A well-functioning administrative staff and influential countries with a strong presence were deemed important to keep an international organization running. Conceptually, what I have learned through my research, was that time and cooperation were key. Now, that point may seem like the most basic foundation in the process of forming an international organization. However, surprisingly enough, the organizations that were the most ambitious, the ones that had the most achievements and implementation of goals, also had many setbacks. I acknowledge that some of the setbacks were due to other causes such as political or military conflicts, but a good amount of setbacks from these organizations were a byproduct of wanting to do too much within “x” amount of time, thus, sometimes spreading themselves too thin.