Who Joins? Democracy and State Participation in Transnational Governance

I offer a systematic account of the effect of democracy on countries’ participation in transnational public-private governance initiatives (TGIs) in which states and/or intergovernmental organizations cooperate with business and civil society actors. First, I argue that governments of democratic political regimes have incentives to join TGIs because of the demand and availability of non-state actors at the domestic level to participate in global governance institutions that grant access to them. Democratic governments also use TGIs as foreign policy instruments because they provide them with strategic advantages in bargaining and allow them to project elements of good governance from the domestic to the global realm. Second, I posit that the strategic incentive of democratic governments to become involved in TGIs is most pronounced in issue areas in which non-state actors are numerous and active, and weaker in areas in which they are less prominent. I test these arguments using new data on state participation in 636 transnational public-private governance initiatives in 2015. The results support my expectations.