The latest version of Governance consists of a special issue that tackles a key issue – policy change within international organisations by considering the IMF. The special issue, comprising of five papers, ‘set out to identify some of the patterns of intellectual, policy, and organizational change at the International Monetary Fund’ since the global financial crisis. It also seeks to map out some of the causal mechanisms that generate such changes within the organization, a key theoretical task for those of us interested in analysing and explaining international policy outcomes. The issues they authors and editors focus on are contentious, areas where there would be expected change given the financial crisis and its legacies.
These areas as fiscal policy, financial sector policy, financial surveillance and role of government intervention. Did change arrive? Yes. As the editors argue, ‘the most radical change has been in the IMF research on the systemic risks posed by the interconnectedness of global banks, followed
by its views on capital controls, the reorganization of its financial surveillance function, its interventions in the austerity versus stimulus debate, and lastly, the Fund’s views of state–creditor relations.’ Areas where relatively little change occurred were the IMF’s policy advice on financial interconnectedness and the treatment of domestic creditors by debtor states.
What then are the causal mechanisms that explain policy change and policy stability. From the issue, change did occur in some policy areas. And it did because of ‘shifts in IMF staff politics, a string of innovations coming from academic and IMF economists, and the emerging economic powers’ creative leveraging of institutional fora both within and inside the IMF.’ Some of these fora include G20 where the rise of other powers and their views with respect to capital controls and state intervention found greater currency. The special issue is definitely a worthy addition to the literature on international organizations that has not explored in detail how policy changes and especially ideational changes occur within rigid bureaucratic structures. Indeed, even change is considered to be surprising in such environments where preferences and views are rather sticky and tend to endure.
All of the papers in the special issue are now published on Governance EarlyView:
Kevin P. Gallagher, Contesting the Governance of Capital Flows at the IMF
Leonard Seabrooke and Emelie Rebecca Nilsson, Professional Skills in International Financial Surveillance: Assessing Change in IMF Policy Teams