Managers of Global Change

Managers of Global Change

The Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies

Edited by Frank Biermann and Bernd Siebenhüner

An examination of the role and relevance of international bureaucracies in global environmental governance.





An examination of the role and relevance of international bureaucracies in global environmental governance.

International bureaucracies—highly visible, far-reaching actors of global governance in areas that range from finance to the environment—are often derided as ineffective, inefficient, and unresponsive. Yet despite their prominence in many debates on world politics, little scholarly attention has been given to their actual influence in recent years. Managers of Global Change fills this gap, offering conceptual analysis and case studies of the role and relevance of international bureaucracies in the area of environmental governance—one of the most institutionally dynamic areas of world politics. The book seeks to resolve a puzzling disparity: although most international bureaucracies resemble each other in terms of their institutional and legal settings (their mandate, the countries to which they report, their general function), the roles they play and their actual influence vary greatly. The chapters investigate the type and degree of influence that international environmental bureaucracies exert and whether external or internal factors account for variations. After a discussion of theoretical context, research design, and empirical methodology, the book presents nine in-depth case studies of bureaucracies ranging from the environment department of the World Bank to the United Nations' climate and desertification secretariats. Managers of Global Change points the way to a better understanding of the role of international bureaucracies, which could improve the legitimacy of global decision making and resolve policy debates about the reform of the United Nations and other bodies.


$67.00 X ISBN: 9780262012744 382 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 4 tables


$28.00 X ISBN: 9780262512367 382 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 4 tables


Frank Biermann

Frank Biermann is Research Professor of Global Sustainability Governance with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University and the author of Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene (MIT Press).

Bernd Siebenhüner

Bernd Siebenhüner is Professor of Ecological Economics at Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany.


  • Managers of Global Change provides a welcome return to careful attention to the possibilities and patterns of organizational agency.

    Global Environmental Politics

  • … this book will … be of interest to scholars in other fields, and practitioners who want to understand sources of and constraints on bureaucratic influence. … The authors' findings are intriguing, and will help to advance the study of this area of world politics.

    Review of International Organizations

  • … the book … fills the gap in our knowledge on how these bureaucracies operate and compare. It is insightful in highlighting the role that international bureaucracies do play in international negotiations and how they may, in some circumstances, shape international negotiations.

    Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy

  • Managers of Global Change certainly offers a vast empirical overview of the performance of global environmental bureaucracies, a number of interesting insights about their functioning, and a solid intellectual and theoretical basis for guiding future studies on how international bureaucracies influence the decisions, norms, and administrative frameworks that govern policymaking around the world.



  • Managers of Global Change reveals deep insights on international bureaucracy combining perspectives from sociological institutionalism organization theory and international relations. Students scholars and practitioners alike will benefit from this comprehensive study of environmental governance. A must-read!

    Norichika Kanie

    Department of Value and Decision Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology