Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Nation-State Participation in Intergovernmental Technology Organizations

Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Nation-State Participation in Intergovernmental Technology Organizations

Article excerpt



The world regime of development in the post-WWII era has given rise to the expansion of intergovernmental technology organizations (IGTO) and membership. Providing standards and regulations and engaging in collective research and development, these organizations play an important role in constructing the political, cultural, and technological landscape in the world. This study reveals that nation-states joined more IGTOs over time, but to varying degrees, and examines factors affecting state participation in such organizations. We propose that in the post-WWII era, nation-state participation in IGTOs is largely shaped by both the worldwide rational and participatory models for nation-states and national institutional structures, over and above the effects of national economic, scientific, and technological development. We argue that the following institutional mechanisms are at work: (1) the nation-states less incorporated into the world polity through various linkages join more IGTOs; (2) national-polity sty le and the government's participatory path affect the internal institutional arrangements which lead to differing nation-state participation. Support for these hypotheses was found with membership data for IGTOs in panel regression analysis and structural equations model with latent factors.


THE POST-WORLD WAR II era has witnessed the growing significance of the international arena. Economic interdependence, political cooperation and conflict, and worldwide cultural models have increasingly engaged nation-states to interact within a common framework. International organizations and associations are some of the most important carriers of such a framework. Not only has there been an unprecedented surge in the number of international organizations since 1945, but nation-states have also become more active in joining these organizations. While the growth of international organizations and individual states' memberships in these organizations is well researched (Archer 1992; Kroll 1993; Boli and Thomas 1997), few studies systematically look into what affects nation-state participation. Focusing on intergovernmental technology organizations in the post-WWII era, this study will: (1) illustrate quantitatively the rise in nation-state participation in intergovernmental technology organizations over time; and (2) examine factors affecting state participation in these organizations. In addition, the implication of these findings for nation-state participation in other sectors of intergovernmental organizations will also be briefly explored.

An international technology organization (ITO) refers to any international organization that is primarily concerned with the utilization and/or research and development of technologies. These technologies can be either specific or general. Intergovernmental technology organizations (IGTO) are international technology organizations that involve only the central governments of nation-states as formal members. In general, intergovernmental technology organizations are engaged in one of (or both) the two types of projects. First, they provide standards, regulations or laws for technology or the industry where a specific technology is applied. For example, the International Organization for International Carriage by Rail, founded in 1890, aims to create "a uniform legal system for international rail transport," and to establish "a very complete codification of international transport law respecting the carriage of goods, passengers and luggage by rail" (Union of International Associations 1994-95). Second, interg overnmental technology organizations pool resources, talents and progress in national technology fields, and engage in collective research and development. For example, the International Commission for Food Industries (established in 1934) aims to promote "agriculture and food industries in scientific, technical and economic fields. …

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