OECD گفتمان سازمانی، بررسی همسالان و توسعه پایدار: چشم انداز زیست محیطی-نهادگرایی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|29355||2009||9 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9240 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 69, Issue 2, 15 December 2009, Pages 389–397
As part of the recent ‘ideational turn’ in research on international organisations, the study of organisational discourse has gained popularity. Yet ecological economics has thus far paid little attention to the role of organisations as sites for the discursive battles over the meaning of sustainable development. For an international organisation without regulatory powers, such as the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), discourse is the main vehicle for policy influence, but it also plays a key role in (re)defining the organisation's identity and authority. The OECD's organisational discourse has been strongly dominated by ‘modern mainstream economics’, and has given little room for marginalised discourses. This paper compares, from the perspective of institutionally oriented ecological economics (IOEE), and borrowing from critical discourse analysis, the experience from attempts to integrate the concept of sustainable development within two OECD peer review mechanisms – the Economic Surveys and the Environmental Performance Reviews. The extent to which the respective conceptions of sustainable development in the two reviews are in line with the principles of IOEE and the reasons for the apparent failure of sustainable development discourse to gain foothold within the organisation are analysed.
Study of policy and institutional change in international organisations has recently taken an ‘ideational turn’ (e.g. Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998, March and Olsen, 1998 and Marcussen, 2001; e.g. Borrás & Jacobsson, 2004, 189; Dostal, 2004). While discourse is only one factor among the many that affect policy change, and only one aspect of ideational impact, for an international organisation without regulatory powers, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), discourse is a vital resource for policy influence. The study of organisational discourse – defined broadly as “the language and symbolic media used by organisations and the people who manage and work in them” (Grant et al., 2001, 8) – has attracted particular interest among scholars who have analysed themes such as organisational identity and the nature and impacts of discursive battles in society (Hardy, 2001 and Grant et al., 2004). Ecological economics literature has in the past highlighted discourse and rhetoric as crucial elements in shaping the institutions that govern human-nature relationships, exemplified by studies on the discursive battles whereby the dominant discourses are maintained and reproduced (Barry and Proops, 1999, Meppem and Bourke, 1999, Proops, 2001, Shi, 2004 and Bøgelund, 2007), the internal and external roles of rhetoric in economics1 (Luks, 1998), and the role of discourse in environmental valuation (O'Hara, 1996 and Wilson and Howarth, 2002). However, it has paid little attention to the discursive power embedded in organisations in general and international organisations in particular. This paper aims to help fill the gap by analysing the discursive battles within the OECD around the notion of sustainable development (SD) in the context of broader discursive battles concerning economic theory. The OECD has often been criticised for being a ‘club of rich countries’, a flag-bearer of economic liberalism and free-market ideology – an ‘expert organisation’ with little need to be concerned about political legitimacy (Armingeon and Beyeler, 2003 and Noaksson and Jacobsson, 2003), and its organisational discourse is allegedly dominated by selective reliance on the authority of academic mainstream economics (Dostal, 2004, 450-451). However, the OECD is not a monolith, and the dominant modern mainstream economics discourse is challenged by a number of marginalised discourses within the organisation – discourses that draw to varying degrees on institutional and ecological economics. This paper examines OECD discourse around sustainable development by looking at two OECD peer review mechanisms – the Economic Surveys and the Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs). Two questions are addressed. First, to what extent is the way in which the respective peer reviews address SD dominated by what can be termed as ‘modern mainstream economics’ (Boven, 2003) as opposed to what will here be described as an ‘institutionally oriented ecological economics’ (IOEE)2 view? Second, how, if in any way, was the OECD dominant discourse transformed by the introduction of a SD section in a full cycle of Economic Surveys in 2001-2004? The background material for the study stems from the author's participation in OECD activities as: a national delegate to the OECD Working Party on Environmental Performance (WPEP) between May 1996 and July 2005,3 an organiser of the Finnish EPR in 1996–97, a country expert on teams reviewing the environmental performance of Mexico (1997–98) and Russia (1998), an OECD consultant in the review of Sweden (2003–04), and a participant, on behalf of the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, in the preparation of the Economic Survey of Finland in 1998. Information was also obtained through semi-structured interviews4 with 40 individuals, including officials from the OECD Environment Directorate and Economics Department involved in peer reviews, WPEP delegates of Canada, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia, other stakeholders involved in EPRs of France, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal, and individuals from the permanent OECD delegations of Finland, the Netherlands, and Portugal.5 The empirical analysis was guided by the set of criteria (see section 3.3 below) developed for analysing the peer review reports (notably their conclusions and recommendations) and the summary report on lessons learned from the sustainable development sections of the Economic Surveys (OECD, 2004b). The main functions of the interviews and participant observation were on the one hand to place the analysis in the context of the broader social practice (see section 2 below), and on the other hand to verify the validity of the interpretations made on the basis of the documentary analysis.6 The paper is organised as follows. Section two presents a brief description of the discursive power of the OECD and introduces the basic elements of the peer reviews. Section three introduces the key concepts of analysis – organisational discourse and institutionally oriented ecological economics (IOEE) – and derives the criteria for analysis from these theoretical concepts. Section four applies the criteria to the analysis of the review framework in the two OECD peer reviews, whereas section five concludes by placing the findings of the analysis in a broader context of OECD's internal power battles, the organisation's role in international politics, and the broader discursive fields. Conclusions concern the reasons for the failure of the Economic Surveys as an instrument helping to ‘mainstream’ SD in the organisation's work, and the prospects of a possible weakening of the ‘hegemonic’ position of modern mainstream economics within the OECD.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Both the EPRs and the Economic Surveys largely rely on what has in this paper been defined as ‘modern mainstream economics’. However, the analysis has likewise demonstrated the clear difference between the dominant discourse manifest in the Economic Surveys and the marginalised discourse represented by the EPRs. While still far from the institutionally oriented ecological economics, the EPRs nevertheless have adopted some elements of this approach. The Economic Surveys remained solidly in the ‘modern mainstream’ and at a number of occasions resorted to interdiscursivity to reinforce this mainstream approach. On purpose or unintentionally, they borrowed from the SD discourse and reinterpreted the concept in line with the dominant OECD organisational discourse emphasising ‘rational’ and efficient public policy. At the same time, the Surveys appealed to the ‘environmentalist’ community by arguing that greater cost-effectiveness would enable stronger environmental policies in the future. Economic growth is necessary, the Surveys argued, but it needs to be ‘sustainable’. Likewise, the rejection in Economic Surveys of voluntary instruments as ineffective and economically inefficient aligned with the environmentalist community's call for stricter, binding measures (and fears of ‘regulatory capture’ by powerful economic interests), while at the same time linking with the dominant discourse of economic efficiency. Furthermore, the Economic Surveys renamed Environmental Impact Assessments as ‘environmental impact analysis’ ( OECD, 2004b, 174). This may have been more than simply careless wording – the term ‘environmental impact assessment’ is employed elsewhere ( OECD, 2004b, 41) – given that the wording is used in a subtitle. In this way assessment and integration methods were presented in a hierarchy, with the CBA at the top. Finally, some of the reasons given for the inferiority of EIA, cost-effectiveness analysis and sustainability strategies as means of policy integration were revealing. Beyond the familiar efficiency arguments, CBA was advocated as the only method able to account for trade-offs between the different dimensions of sustainable development. If independently reviewed, CBA would substantially improve transparency of policymaking. However, the arguments relating to transparency and integration of various dimensions of sustainability are precisely among those that heterodox approaches frequently employ to criticise CBA (e.g. O'Neill, 1996 and Söderbaum, 2000). The EPRs are often criticised, especially by the environmental authorities and NGOs, for excessive cautiousness in their attempt to remain credible and adhere to the dominant OECD organisational discourse. This would risk ‘diluting’ the message, and reducing the ‘punch’ of the reviews. The SD ‘experiment’ in the Economic Surveys, in turn, can be seen as a failed attempt to ‘mainstream’ SD into economic policymaking (Lehtonen, 2007). The analysis of the process and the interviews tended to confirm the alleged self-sufficiency and even arrogance of the Economics Department and the EDRC, the working group responsible for the Economic Surveys. The Economics Department and the EDRC ignored critical comments on the review framework from the Environment Directorate and perceived the demand by the OECD Council to include a SD section in the Surveys as an intrusion into its privileged field of competence. Unsurprisingly, the EDRC terminated the SD experiment once the specific funding allocated to the theme was withdrawn. (Lehtonen, 2007). The Economic Surveys failed to integrate SD issues into economic analyses, treat the three dimensions of SD on an equal footing, or alleviate the unequal distribution of power between the Economics Department and the Environment Directorate. Sustainability was an ‘add on’ to the review framework otherwise dominated by the mainstream economic paradigm. Rather than bringing sustainability issues onto the economic policy agenda, thereby transforming the dominant discourse, the SD sections reinforced perceptions among economic officials about the marginality of environmental and social issues for their work. SD was seen to push other, potentially more relevant, issues off the Survey agenda. The Economic Surveys’ ‘SD experiment’ can be seen as a culmination of a process whereby the initial enthusiasm for the topic within the OECD waned. This experiment drew to its conclusion the process whereby the innovative messages from the ‘background report’ on SD (OECD, 2001c) were progressively diluted – a process that had started already with the preparation of the SD ‘policy report’(OECD, 2001b). This report was drafted by a small high-level committee led by finance ministers, and merely selectively integrated some of the ‘minority views’ while otherwise remaining firmly within the dominant discourse. The former Secretary-General's role in this process as first ‘inventing’ and then again nearly ‘exterminating’ SD within the OECD was peculiar, to say the least. While one can only speculate on his motivations, by the early to mid-2000s his hostility to SD had become evident – despite his official endorsement of sustainability ideas (OECD, 2004a). The question then is to what extent the self-sufficiency and resistance against other discourses reflects a conscious choice or a ‘natural’ outcome of the participants’ cognitive convictions. While the resistance to change can be seen as a failure by the OECD to reposition itself in international governance, it may on the other hand reflect a conscious judgement that the organisation's ‘comparative advantage’ and core identity lie elsewhere. Adopting too many elements from ‘environmentalist’ or other heterodox discourses might threaten this very identity. Embarking upon the slippery discursive field of SD may have seemed too risky for an organisation whose influence and authority rely on the production of reliable, ‘objective’ economic analysis. To safeguard its reputation and remain in the core discourse within its main reference group – composed mainly of finance ministry officials – the OECD needed to marginalise itself from the SD environmentalist discourse. It remains to be seen, whether the choice to resist a discursive shift towards a more heterodox approaches, notably the institutionally oriented ecological economics approach, helps to safeguard OECD's identity and promote its influence in international policy arenas. Moreover, while the OECD may have lost influence to new players in the international policy arena especially in the old member countries, there is evidence of the increasing influence of the organisation in the new member countries on the one hand, and in many non-OECD countries on the other (e.g. Lehtonen, 2005b). Furthermore, one may ask whether the organisation has ever ceased to exert influence, or whether the pathways of influence have simply become more complex and hidden: experience from organisational discourse suggests that one should not underestimate the power of discursive repetition (Dostal, 2004, 445) in reproducing the power structures embodied in discourse. It can be argued that the question of OECD's role, identity and influence in the global discursive battles around economics and sustainable development has gained further relevance in view of the on-going financial and economic crisis and the possible ‘return of the state’ and re-regulation. The current crisis may provide an opportunity within the OECD for alternative views and marginalised discourses to be heard. An optimist might argue that while the environmental and economic peer reviews have thus far failed to redefine the dominant OECD discourse, they may have constituted crucial background work necessary for exploiting the currently open political window of opportunity. For the ecological economics community, the question is whether it is ready to seize the opportunity and offer concrete solutions to the crisis also in the discursive arenas provided by the OECD. Finally, while the analysis has illustrated the dynamics of discursive battles and the resilience of the dominant organisational discourse of the OECD, two inherent limitations in the research approach deserve to be mentioned. First, this study has focused on discourse, relegating to a secondary role more structural aspects that govern OECD work, including the economic and political power relations between the member countries on the one hand, and between the OECD secretariat and the member countries on the other. Second, there was a slight bias in the study to the extent that interviews and participatory observation concerning the environmental performance reviews were overrepresented in the sample. While such a disequilibrium can be justified on the grounds that the SD sections were only a small element in a limited number of Economic Surveys, a more thorough analysis of the OECD Economic Surveys and their role in the evolving discourse around sustainable development within the organisation would be warranted.