Like ecologically irrational social structures, systems of thought also perpetuate themselves. In a world of already existing paradigms, new research and new agendas for theory and practice can flounder. Institutional and systemic barriers exist. But these aside, the practical difficulties posed by scarce funding for research on IOs cramp anything but the most modest of research agendas. To begin to understand the organizational complexities of even one international organization calls for a significant investment of funds. Whereas national agencies have been studied in depth because of their perceived importance to the domestic policy-making process, the same is not true for IOs. Furthermore, few people can straddle both worlds--of academia and the practitioner world of the IOs. Thus, the valuable experience of IO officials rarely finds translation into critical analyses of the functioning of the organizations.
But if politics and institutions must adapt and change to grapple better with the environmental problematique, research and practice must address the centrality of ecological rationality. A shift in values, politics, and institutions--a move away from the self-perpetuation of old paradigms--may indeed be a perilous process. Yet, "the sport, it seems . . . is worth the candle" ( Stone, 1988:310). The aspiration for ecological rationality--indeed even sustainable development despite its many flaws--drives our policy vision of a greener, better world.
We thank Lynton K. Caldwell and Stefanie Rixecker for helpful comments on earlier versions of this chapter.