chapter  27
Learning in international organizations
ByThorsten Benner, Steffen Eckhard, Philipp Rotmann
Pages 14

Can international organizations (IOs) learn, and if so, under what conditions and how? Answers to these questions are critically relevant to many millions of people whose lives depend on aid from humanitarian organizations, on security provided and peace promoted by United Nations (UN) peace operations and political missions, and on economic decisions by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to name a few examples. Answers to these questions determine in part if the world can fi nd feasible solutions to global problems. Many of these depend on IOs to learn. Scholarly inquiry into organizational learning in IOs is also a fascinating opportunity to combine insights from across the rich tradition of the social sciences on rules, knowledge and organizational culture as well as political bargaining based on interests and power. Indeed, to conceive of learning in any public and therefore political organization as anything but a deeply political process would be to ignore important layers of empirical reality. Therefore, one key argument in this chapter is that the analysis of learning requires stronger emphasis on the political and normative confl icts about who gets to draw ‘lessons’ and thereby defi ne the ‘truth’.