Rankings and other quantitative indicators now occupy a growing role in international as well as national governance. Indicators describe such diverse phenomena as rule of law, corruption, health, labor regulation, freedom, state effectiveness, corporate social responsibility, and culture. Yet despite the resources invested in the promulgation, use and contestation of indicators, surprisingly little is known about the effects of this turn to indicators on global regulation and the exercise of power. The lack of study of these issues is particularly striking in relation to the use of indicators in global or transnational governance practices where indicators are linked to extra-state power. Some global indicators have direct effects in the allocation of development aid or investment decisions, but most have indirect effects, influencing knowledge and the decisions of many different actors and publics. In order to understand the implications of global governance indicators for power relations and their influence on behavior, discourse, and contestation, this Research Coordination Network draws together scholars from a variety of countries to individually and collectively engage this problem. In the next three years, the Research Coordination Network will use a series of seminars to build new research findings in order to develop a broader theoretical framework for understanding how indicators act in global governance.
The participants are mostly junior scholars, so this project combines research and theory development with training and mentoring of US and international scholars. The scholars differ in their disciplinary training but share a common approach and research focus. The interdisciplinary steering committee joins scholars in anthropology and international law. Building from the initial group of scholars, the network will expand over time to incorporate a broader range of scholars interested in the issue from several countries and disciplines.