Global Governance Institute


All Window Dressing? Business Participation in Transnational Public-Private Governance Initiatives

23 March 2021, 5:15 pm–6:30 pm


Why, when and how do businesses choose to participate in the delivery of global public goods? Join us for a keynote lecture with Dr Oliver Westerwinter.

This event is free.

Event Information

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Julia Kreienkamp

Business is an important actor in global governance. But what motivates companies and their associations to become involved in governing global problems? A prominent view in the literature emphasizes corporate window dressing as a major driver. By participating in global governance activities, business actors, so the argument goes, seek to distract policy-makers and the broader public from the negative consequences of their behavior and try to avoid hard regulation and the loss of customers. However, empirical support for this argument is thin.

In this presentation, Dr Oliver Westerwinter provides a systematic examination of the window dressing hypothesis, based on new data on business participation in transnational public-private governance initiatives. He finds that – contrary to what the window dressing argument would suggest – businesses frequently participate in initiatives that go beyond symbolic declarations, specifying behavioral obligations for their members and adopting monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Dr Westerwinter’s presentation will discuss the implications of this finding and alternative explanations for business participation in the delivery of global public goods, based on case study evidence.

About the Speaker

Oliver Westerwinter

Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of St. Gallen

Oliver Westerwinter is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Department of Political Science at the University St. Gallen, Switzerland. From September 2020 until August 2021, he is also a Visiting Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute. His research interests include transnational public-private governance initiatives, intergovernmental organizations, informal governance, institutional design and effectiveness, institutional complexity, global governance, international security, and research methods. He received his Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences with a focus on international relations and research methods in 2014 at the European University Institute. In 2018-2019, he was a Max Weber Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. In 2011, he was a visiting fellow at the University of California, San Diego, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. His research has been funded by several funding agencies and universities, including the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Network for International Studies, and has been published in the Journal of Peace Research, Review of International Organizations, International Theory, as well as with Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.