International Organizations and Research Methods:
An Introduction

Methodologies for the study of international organizations

Fanny Badache, Leah R. Kimber and Lucile Maertens, Editors

Scholars have studied international organizations (IOs) in many disciplines, thus generating important theoretical developments. Yet a proper assessment and a broad discussion of the methods used to research these organizations are lacking. Which methods are being used to study IOs and in what ways? Do we need a specific methodology applied to the case of IOs? What are the concrete methodological challenges when doing research on IOs? International Organizations and Research Methods: An Introduction compiles an inventory of the methods developed in the study of IOs under the five headings of Observing, Interviewing, Documenting, Measuring, and Combining. It does not reconcile diverging views on the purpose and meaning of IO scholarship, but creates a space for scholars and students embedded in different academic traditions to reflect on methodological choices and the way they impact knowledge production on IOs.

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Meet the editors

Dr. Fanny Badache is a postdoctoral researcher at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Her research on International Organizations lies at the intersection of international relations and public administration. She works on the international civil service, staff diversity and United Nations peacekeeping.

Dr. Leah R. Kimber is currently postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Sociology at the University of Geneva. Her research focuses on International Organizations, with a specific emphasis on examining them through a sociological lens. She uses the field of organizational sociology to address various critical topics, including the examination of inclusion-related issues, among others.

Prof. Lucile Maertens is associate professor in political science and international relations at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Her research focuses on international organizations, multilateral practices, global environmental governance and issues of temporality and (de)politicization.

About the book

“This book is a terrific achievement. It not only provides the novice and the experienced researcher with a complete menu of methods to choose from when analyzing international organizations. The authors also take care to address cross-cutting questions of epistemology, positionality, and research ethics that we should all be aware of.”

Jens Steffek, Technische Universität Darmstadt

“Politicians, pundits, and the public undervalue international organizations. Too few scholars understand enough about the nuts-and-bolts to dispel this inaccurate image. Not the team assembled in these pages, however. They detail not only why institutions matter but how to analyze these essential actors in contemporary world politics.”

Thomas G. Weiss, The CUNY Graduate Center

“This book is original and innovative, as it is the first companion to provide a broad and thoughtful inventory of research methods used in the social sciences and humanities to understand what international organizations are and what they do: so very helpful!”

Bob Reinalda, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

International Organizations and Research Methods fills a gaping hole in the IO literature and will be particularly valuable to graduate students and IO researchers with its diversity of methods and authors covering a range of UN specialized agencies and IOs in different issue areas and regions.  The book’s introduction provides a very useful overview of what the book aims to do and not do and how the editors define methods as a reflexive part of the research process.  The innovative use of boxes is a great way to present specific tools and ‘tricks,’ including interviewing in a foreign language and analyzing tweets.”

Margaret Karns, University of Massachusetts Boston

The content presented in this volume has its roots in the enriching discussions that took place during the Researching the United Nations: Rethinking Methods of Investigation (RUN2018) workshop, which was conducted at the University of Geneva in June 2018. This event was skillfully organized by the editors and Emilie Dairon from Sciences Po Lyon, and brought together an impressive group of over 70 researchers from diverse countries and academic backgrounds. Their primary aim was to engage in insightful discussions concerning research methods within the field of international organizations studies. What emerged from this workshop, alongside the diverse and multifaceted contributions spanning various disciplines and methodological approaches, was a shared recognition of the pressing need to delve deeper into the methodologies employed by researchers in this field. Over the course of two days, the workshop was structured into fourteen thematic panels and featured two compelling plenary conferences.

Book launch & presentations

12 October 2023, 16:15 – 18:00

📍 Geneva, Graduate Institute | Room S8, Maison de la Paix

This book launch will gather the editors, contributors, IO scholars and practitioners to discuss the book’s contributions and impact. It offers a space for scholars and students embedded in different academic traditions to reflect on methodological choices and the way they impact knowledge production on IOs. It is open to anyone interested in IOs, research methods and research on global governance more broadly.

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A

Roundtable Panel

  • Fanny Badache, Postdoctoral Researcher, Geneva Graduate Institute
  • Leah R. Kimber, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Geneva
  • Lucile Maertens, Associate Professor in International Relations/Political Science, Geneva Graduate Institute
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  • Kari De Pryck, Lecturer at the Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Geneva
  • Valérie Gorin, Head of Learning, Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies
  • Sandra Lavenex, Professor of European and International Politics, University of Geneva
  • Annabelle Littoz-Monnet, Professor in International Relations/Political Science and Director of the Global Governance Centre, Geneva Graduate Institute
  • Francesco Pisano, Director, United Nations Library & Archives Geneva, United Nations Office at Geneva

24 October 2023, 14:45 – 16:00

📍 Online | Co-hosted by DoingIPS and the Department of Methodology, LSE

This virtual roundtable is co-hosted by DoingIPS and the Department of Methodology, London School of Economics and Political Science. It will comprise a presentation of the book by the editors, a live interview of the editors led by moderator Dr. Audrey Alejandro, and a Q&A with the audience.

Participants

  • Dr. Fanny Badache, Postdoctoral Researcher, Geneva Graduate Institute
  • Dr. Leah R. Kimber, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Geneva
  • Prof. Lucile Maertens, Associate Professor in International Relations/Political Science, Geneva Graduate Institute
  • Dr. Audrey Alejandro, Assistant Professor in International Political Sociology and Qualitative Text Analysis, London School of Economics and Political Science