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Pathology of Path Dependency? The ILO and the Challenge of New Governance

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Baccaro, L., & Mele, V. (2012). Pathology of Path Dependency? The ILO and the Challenge of New Governance. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 65(2), 195-224. doi:10.1177/001979391206500201.

Using archival sources, the authors study strategic and organizational change in the International Labour Organization (ILO) over the last twenty years. They focus specifically on the ILO's efforts to incorporate certain elements of the "new governance" model into its policies and organizational practices, which include the shift from standards expressed as detailed legal norms to "soft law"; the active involvement of civil society organizations other than trade unions and employer associations in regulatory activities; and the introduction of quantitative indicators of compliance with labor standards. They argue that the efforts of the ILO leadership have been waylaid by the organization's corporatist structure, which gives employer associations and trade unions veto power over policy developments at a time in which these actors are increasingly unable to agree on concrete policy measures. Finally, the authors ask whether this corporatist structure accurately reflects the ILO's self-defined mission: providing "decent work for all."