The proliferation of international institutions with overlapping scope and authority over issue areas creates strategic dilemmas for all states. While African states are often considered marginalised in world politics and global markets, Michael Byron Nelson shows how coalitions can form a crucial part of African strategies to influence international institutions and achieve results. Building a bottom-up analysis of global governance, through legal analysis, content analysis, and in-depth interviews, Nelson illuminates institutional and coalition dynamics through case studies of three key areas - food safety, intellectual property, and agricultural trade. He highlights the difficulties encountered by coalitions attempting to navigate institutional systems, emerging from institutional thickness (increasing the number of institutions involved) and integration (increasing the formal linkages between those institutions). Finally, Nelson shows how increasing the hierarchy of an institutional system, by creating a focal point on a single institution, can make coordination easier for coalitions.
Michael Byron Nelson is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. His research focuses on the international relations of African states.
1. Introduction; Part I. Theory and Background: 2. Institutional systems; 3. Viewing governance from below; 4. Coalitions; Part II Cases: 5. Global food safety governance and Africa; 6. Global IP governance and African coalitions; 7. Africa and the governance of agricultural trade; 8. Conclusion.