International Organizations Management The Shifting Context for International Organizations

The online course “International Organizations Management” provides students with basic notions of the practice of International Relations, a general overview of the management challenges international organizations are faced with, as well as key theoretical frameworks and practical tools for managers to excel in this environment. The module was launched on the Stanford based Coursera platform as part of the course “International Organizations Management”, coordinated by Dr. Gilbert Probst, Professor, Organization and Management, and Co-Director of the Executive-MBA program at the University of Geneva. In 2013 and 2014, the course attracted more than 40.000 registrations.

The Course: “International Organizations Management

International and not-for-profit organizations present an increasingly complex environment to work in and therefore require for their successful management an unprecedented level of managerial skills on top of a deep understanding of the socioeconomic and political context they operate in. This course is designed to provide students with (1) basic notions of the practice of international relations (2) a general overview of the management challenges international and not-for-profit organizations are faced with as well as key theoretical frameworks and practical tools for managers to excel in this environment. Key areas of management will be reviewed, from strategy setting to implementation through marketing & fund raising, and assessment. (3) Given the growing interaction between public and private sectors, this course also touches upon the management of public/private partnerships.

The Module: “The Shifting Context for International Organizations”

It is a truism to say that the world has become more interconnected in economic, technological and social terms: signs and manifestations of this interconnection have become omnipresent in our lives. How does this new global context affect the way we think about global cooperation and the role of international organizations? We want to use a central metaphor to illustrate this shift: networks.

Networks are a source of innovation and growth but also give rise to vulnerabilities and tensions: the more networked the world becomes in economic, social and technological terms, the more vulnerable individuals and states are to actions and decisions taken outside the traditional realms of states and the more difficult it becomes to create and maintain order.

In theory this should increase the importance and relevance of international institutions, set up to facilitate cooperation among states. But in fact, the very nature of those organizations, built in a hierarchical era, makes it very hard for them to be effective in this new context.

In this module, we will explore how the effectiveness of traditional IOs is constrained and discuss new solutions that tap into the innovative and self-organizing potential of networks.

I designed and teach this module together with Stephan Mergenthaler.

Learning Outcomes

Our teaching module “The Shifting Context for International Organizations” explores the shifting characteristics of the international system, focusing on the tensions between hierarchies and networks.

After a section laying out conceptual foundations it will explore three specific global challenges that illustrate these characteristics: trade, climate and internet governance.

All three are introduced by practitioners from the World Economic Forum, an international organization which aims to improve the state of the world through public-private cooperation:

  1. Stacey Chow on international trade governance
  2. Gill Cassar on global climate governance
  3. Danil Kerimi on internet governance

Course Readings The Shifting Context for International Organizations

 Course Readings

Lecture 1 – Introduction (no readings)

Lecture 2 – General concepts: 

  •  Robert O. Keohane (2005): After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press
  • Anne Marie Slaughter (2005): A New World Order, Princeton: Princeton University Press
  • Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye (2011): Power & Interdependence, New York: Pearson; 4th Edition
  • Niall Ferguson (2014): “Networks and Hierarchies”, The American Interest: 1-9

Applied modules

Lecture 3 – International Trade:

 Lecture 4 – Climate Change

 Lecture 5 – Internet Governance

  • Cerf, Vint (Chair) et al. ICANN’s Role in the Internet Governance Ecosystem (Report of the ICANN Strategy Panel). February 20, 2014.
  • Global Partners and Associates. “Internet Governance: Mapping the Battleground.” April, 2013.
  • The GovLab. ICANN Primer: Primer on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. October 13, 2013.
  • Kruger, Lennard G. “Internet Governance and the Domain Name System: Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service. January, 2013.

Lecture 6 – Conclusion (no readings)