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The political economies of UN-business 'partnerships'

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Since the inauguration of the United Nations' (UN) Global Compact, global public-private partnerships (GP3s) between the UN and the private sector have become common practice across the UN system and have posed new problems in global governance. The literature on GP3s consists of a critical knowledge gap in terms of the variance in the institutional configurations, practices and the politicization of GP3s across UN-based IGOs and what such variance means for understanding global authority and governance more generally. To address this knowledge gap, this dissertation answers the following questions: What are the institutional manifestations of UN-based GP3s and how do they vary across UN-based IGOs? Why do they vary and what are the implications of these findings for the distribution of global public and private authority? To answer these questions, this dissertation conducts a comparative analysis of two UN-based IGOs - the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – and develops an analytical framework to empirically map IGO-specific 'GP3 frameworks' and analyze their politicization. GP3 frameworks are shown in this study to vary in terms of their integration of IGO-based and market-driven institutions and practices and the degrees to which they have been politicized. This dissertation also develops a framework for a political economy analysis of international regimes based on the proposition that GP3 framework variance is an outcome of regime-specific conditions. It offers the concept of 'regime cohesion' – a regime's policy paradigm(s), distribution of authority and distribution of resources – to demonstrate that the UNHCR's specific GP3 framework is a product of the international refugee regime's relatively cohesive politics around the role of markets and the private sector in refugee assistance and the UNDP's GP3 framework is a product of the international development regime's discordant politics on private authority in development. This dissertation employs a critical neo-Gramscian theoretical analysis to posit that such GP3 variance is reflective of a varied process of new constitutionalism that institutionally consolidates global private authority in different forms and to varying degrees. While the UNHCR's GP3 framework and the refugee regime reflect the new constitutionalism of neoliberalism, the UNDP's GP3 framework and the development regime reflect the new constitutionalism of an 'embedded neoliberalism'. These findings reveal important insights into global private authority, the political economy of international regimes and the United Nations as global public institution.
202 pages.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Busumtwi-sam, James
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