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International Organizations and Good Governance*


Admission requirements

This is a specialization course for students taking the International and European Governance track.


This course explores the increasingly important role international organizations play in governance in domestic and transnational policy arenas. International organizations such as the World Bank, the IMF, the European Union, the OSCE, OECD and many others are growing in importance and their mandates to promote policies has been increasing in recent decades. They deal with aspects of development, good governance, economic growth and coordination, human rights, democratic elections, conflict prevention and many others. In addition, in the West, international organizations and their members devote considerable resources to the promotion of democracy, administrative reform, economic restructuring and policy regulation in specific sectors or broader domains such as trade. As international organizations are becoming more and more influential as a response to global challenges, questions arise regarding the legitimacy of the requirements and conditions they set and their ability to achieve their goals and objectives.

This course will examine international organizations as key players in defining good governance, critically evaluate tools and approaches they use to fulfil their objectives and assess their ability to promote the norms they diffuse internally as well as externally. We examine reform and especially administrative reform, both in countries that are the target of reform and the organizations themselves. In this way, the course provides a crucial link that illustrates the connection between reforms of governance and the effectiveness and legitimacy of international organizations.

Learning objectives

Students who have completed this course should:

  • Demonstrate a broad awareness of the role some of the most prominent international organizations play in governance in various parts of the world, their goals and objectives

  • Differentiate between approaches to good governance used by various international organizations today and assess their significance for the work of these organizations

  • Be familiar with criteria for the evaluation of legitimacy and effectiveness of the work of IOs and apply these to the work of one organization of their choice

  • Understand the role conditionality has played as a policy tool for IOs and its uses and limitations

  • Apply ideas of public administration reform in an international organization setting

  • Critically evaluate the legitimacy and effectiveness of international organizations based on existing empirical accounts of reform inside the organizations and on pre-defined criteria for legitimacy



Methods of instruction

Seminar sessions consisting of class discussions of pre-assigned readings and presentations.

The mode of instruction in this seminar will combine discussion with student presentations. Part one, close reading and discussion, will examine issues related to reform and transparency and good governance inside international organizations that might help us understand how international organizations manage to adhere to democratic principles themselves and the link between legitimacy and the effectiveness of an IO.

In part two, students will research and present several international organizations and their reform and governance promotion programmes;

Attendance is compulsory. Students missing two sessions without a valid reason will not be able to complete the seminar.

Study load

Total study load 140 hours

  • contact hours: 7 sessions of 3 hours: 21 hours

  • self-study hours: literature study in preparation for class: 6 hours per week: 6X7= 42 hours
    Case study of an international organization: preparation and presentation: 4 weeks X 8 hours: 32 hours
    Study and writing of final essay: 45 hours

Method of assessment

Assessment will be made based on three components:

  • attendance and participation

  • group presentations (application of theoretical frameworks discussed in part one, own research)

  • final essay (critical analysis of a specific case/policy area/tool used by an IO), take home format using internet sources provided by the lecturer

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and have a mark lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


Blackboard is used and will be available one week before the start of the course. Please check course outline and assignments for readings for the first session.

Reading list

  • Ngaire Woods, 2006, The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank and their borrowers. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

  • various article and papers, to be provided


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova