In collaboration with: Bernhard Reinsberg
The global governance of development increasingly relies on multi-stakeholder partnerships between states, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. This article takes on two tasks. The first is to describe quantitatively the institutional evolution of the multilateral development system over the past century. The second is to synthesize four rational-institutionalist explanations for why states establish new organizations as transnational governance initiatives—functionalism, realism, domestic politics, and contextual design. The empirical analysis probes these explanations using the new Transnational Governance Initiatives in World Politics dataset, which combines several existing data sources to build the most comprehensive data on forms of institutionalized cooperation in global governance. The results lend most support to the contextual design view, while also yielding support for the remaining institutional design accounts. By employing Heckman selection models, the analysis addresses potential selection bias due to unobserved correlation between state choices to create a new organization and to choose its organizational design. A qualitative case study further validates measurement choices and causal mechanisms. These findings have implications for theories of institutional design and development practice, specifically regarding the role of intergovernmental organizations in an increasingly interconnected world.