International Organizations and the Future of Global Governance

International Organizations and the Future of Global Governance

Findings from the 2021 GLOBE Survey


The survey was conducted to provide inputs for the GLOBE project and to generate insights into how IO staff perceives current and future challenges to global governance. The survey questions were inspired by some theoretical concerns, evaluating how international organizations could cope with global governance challenges in the future.

On this website, we present some first aggregate findings. For more thorough explanations and an in-depth discussion of the results, check out the Technical Report (PDF download, 1.5 MB).

Perceptions on global challenges and policy instruments

Previous GLOBE reports have identified seven major trends shaping global governance throughout the 2020s. To understand how the urgency and likeliness of these trends are perceived from within IOs, we asked respondents to assess them from their perspective. We also inquired about different global governance instruments and how effective IO staff considers them to be.

Are treaties still the gold standard? On the effectiveness of global governance instruments

Opinions on IOs’ relationships to member states and other IOs

IOs interact with other IOs through formal and less formal channels, they depend to varying degrees on input and guidance from their member states, and are subject to global public opinion, national agendas and business interests. We designed a number of questions to get a better understanding of how these interactions and dependencies are perceived from within the IOs themselves.

Free rein? Autonomy of IOs from member states

Under pressure: external factors influencing IOs

Ready to mingle: few problems of interactions between IOs

Views on IO’s internal matters and organisational challenges

We now turn our attention to staff members’ perceptions regarding internal matters and organizational challenges likely to be experienced by IOs in this upcoming decade.

No lack of challenges: internal problems of IOs

A bright future: IOs stand for evidence-based policies

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Who are the 1,004 people that responded the survey?

On the next slides, we report some demographics that draw a picture of our sample.

A glass ceiling in International Organizations?

Age distribution of IO staff

This observed glass ceiling may partially be explained by the skewed age distribution, a legacy of decades of gender-imbalanced hiring practices.

Employees’ top work activities

Social sciences dominate the careers of IO staff

Staff from development and migration IOs most represented in our survey

IO staff quite cosmopolitan

Respondents identified more with their IO than with their home country.

Want to go further?

You can download the full report as a PDF.

Also, stay tuned for further research, including sector-specific deep dives.

We are now analysing the data in more detail and will publish follow-up studies over the coming months.

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Share this survey report with your colleagues and friends.

About and contact:

This survey was conducted for the GLOBE Project by a Steering Committee at the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), a graduate school and research institute focused on international studies.

The principal investigator was Jacint Jordana, Director of IBEI and professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Adam Holesch, project manager of GLOBE, was responsible for implementing the survey. Lewin Schmitt provided research assistance and oversaw the operational and technical workstreams. Laia Comerma and Emily Jones also contributed as research assistants.

To inquire more about the survey, please contact

Follow-up publications and the full dataset will be made available to the public over the next months. To stay up to date, sign up for our Newsletter.

GLOBE partners

The GLOBE project is coordinated by the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), a graduate school and research institute focused on international studies. Besides that, in GLOBE participate: the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies (GGS); the Global Governance Institute/University College London (UCL); Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB); Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics, ESADEgeo; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Buenos Aires (Argentina); Universitas Bina Nusantara (Indonesia) and Fundación Privada Instituto de Salud Global Barcelona (IS Global).


Note: for a more thorough description of the methodology, consult the Technical Report (PDF download, 1.5 MB).

Respondents were identified because of their experience in selected international organizations (IOs) pertaining to one of the sectors studied within GLOBE: trade, development, security, climate change, migration or global finance.

In accordance with the survey’s privacy policy, IO staff was identified by searching through publicly available information. In most cases, employee directories were pulled from LinkedIn, where users can self-identify as working for a certain institution. To avoid wrongly identifying staff, we sent survey invitations to official institutional emails, thus ensuring that respondents really pertained to an organization.

In some cases, where full or partial employee directories were publicly available (e.g., for the European Commission’s various Directorate-Generals), these were used to complement or instead of the LinkedIn data.

Around 12,000 staff members from 30 IOs received personalised email invitations to participate in our survey. The emails ensured confidentiality and included an explanation of the purpose of the survey. After two rounds of emailing, we registered 1,004 full responses, resulting in a response rate of 8.4%.

Note: Throughout this survey, we discarded “Don’t know” answers when visualising the responses. In any case, these never amounted to any statistically relevant levels, usually remaining in single or low double digits.

Furthermore, for the descriptive texts accompanying the graphs below, we grouped the highest and lowest categories when reporting on the data (e.g., “30% Most likely” and ” 40% Quite likely” would be reported as “70% were likely to…”).

Data protection

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We adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For the privacy notice of the survey, please click here.