The Design of International Institutions: the Organizational-Cybernetics Approach

  • Michal Parízek
Keywords: international institutions, international organizations, regime theory, institutional design, institutional capacity, organizational cybernetics


My target in the present text is to discuss the possibilities and pitfalls of the study of international institutions’ design. To achieve this goal I critically review the existing literature on the topic and outline three key reasons for which I believe much of the work on institutional design to be theoretically problematic, and for which any meaningful progress of the study of design as a research programme is unlikely. I argue that we can overcome these problems by returning and sticking to the original concept of institutions as mechanisms for transmission of information that was formulated in the institutional theory in international relations. On the basis of this concept we can develop a research programme on institutional design that takes seriously the basic realist findings about the power nature of international politics. Besides this, by focusing on the information transmission function of institutions we open the space for application of the potentially highly relevant findings from the area of the so-called organizational cybernetics to the study of international relations. With their help new methods for diagnosis of the institutions’ functions can be developed and important new empirical and theoretical findings can be achieved.

Author Biography

Michal Parízek