Identifying formal intergovernmental organizations

Thomas J. Volgy, Elizabeth Fausett, Keith A. Grant, Stuart Rodgers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Scholarship on intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) has mushroomed, especially studies involving quantitative analyses of state involvement in IGOs and the effects of IGOs on the behavior of state members. Yet, little of that literature enumerates IGOs using conceptually based definitions of what are formal intergovernmental organizations. Here, the authors develop a new database on IGOs, based on a definition focusing on three dimensions: formal organizations that demonstrate ongoing decisionmaking and oversight by states; evidence bureaucratic organization; and demonstrate organizational autonomy. The authors conceptualize these organizations as FIGOs. Using these dimensions, they identify the population of FIGOs at three points in time: 1975, 1989, and 2004. In addition, they generate data on state membership in FIGOs, offering not only a simple frequency of number of organizations in which a state participates, but also another measure of state involvement through the creation of a denominator of 'opportunity', allowing for an analysis of the number of organizations joined versus the number of organizations a state is capable of joining. Finally, the authors compare the results from their efforts with the IGO COW database and suggest some advantages to using their data for a number of theoretical questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-850
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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