Legislating International Organization: The US Congress, the IMF, and the World Bank

By Kathryn C. Lavelle | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This is a book about the politics behind the IMF and World Bank in the United States Congress. It is a historical study that draws upon mid-twentieth century pluralist and realist traditions to understand how policy is formulated. Yet it is also methodologically innovative. To analyze the relationship among national and international institutions, I spent nine months as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, working on the staff of the House Committee on Financial Services. While I knew from previous research that interest groups play a role in the relationship, I wanted an assignment in Congress where I could observe them firsthand in an area that had not been previously studied. On interviews with multiple personal and committee offices during the placement period, staffers assured me that interest groups are impossible to miss no matter where I worked because, in the words of one, “they are here every day.” Extending the insights of that experience to the academic discipline of political science forced me to confront the deep divide in the discipline between the study of interest groups in American politics, and the study of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and transnational advocacy movements in international relations. The two subfields rarely speak directly to each other and frequently employ research methodologies that analyze power and outcomes differently across time. The task of bringing them together has left me obligated to individuals and organizations as wide-ranging as the topic itself.

My first debt is to those individuals who were willing to “think outside the box” and support this project before it took the shape that it did. Jeff Biggs and Veronica Jones at the American Political Science Association, and Chairman Barney Frank, Jeanne Roslanowick, Scott Morris, and Daniel McGlinchey of the House Committee on Financial Services taught me everything I know about Congress with their unfailing wit, good humor, and inordinate patience in explaining “how a bill becomes a law.” Maria Giesta, Peter Kovar, Patty Lord, Michael Paese, Jim Segel, Dennis Shaul, and Dave Smith furthered my education in the practice of politics on a daily basis when I was working on the Hill. My cohort of political scientists in the 2006–2007 fellowship year, including Michelle Chin, Brendan Doherty, and Jessica Gerrity, were similarly invaluable in helping me to understand the academic literature on Congress. Not least, my former colleague Frances Lee impressed me with the opportunities the fellowship could provide, based on her own experience, and offered important scholarly input into the project. While fellows are prohibited from gathering data for publication during the year, an insider’s

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