The International Monetary Fund and the Diffusion of Global Economic Norms (2005 - 10)

Researchers: Dr. André Broome ( and Liam Clegg (


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become one of the most controversial international organizations in history. During the last decade the IMF has suffered a severe crisis of institutional legitimacy, which placed the organization’s future in jeopardy. This study will produce an analysis of the evolving global responsibilities of the IMF throughout the post-World War Two era, focusing in particular on the organisation’s role in the creation, maintenance, and diffusion of global economic norms. In addition to a historical analysis of the IMF’s evolution as an international actor, the project will examine the changing responsibilities of the IMF in the aftermath of the global credit crunch, as well as how the organisation is likely to continue to evolve in the future.

Project Aims

The project aims to:

  • Produce a comprehensive study of the changing role of the International Monetary Fund as a promoter of global economic norms and policy standards, using the organisation’s archival documents and interviews with elite actors.
  • Evaluate the sources of – and potential solutions to – the IMF’s crisis of legitimacy during the decade following the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98.
  • Analyse the internal and external mechanisms of change with respect to the IMF’s formal responsibilities, everyday practices, and broader global mandate.
  • Use the research findings to build upon existing theoretical approaches in an attempt to move beyond the rationalist-constructivist divide in the study of change within international organisations.

Research Design

The framework for analysis has three core focal points:

  • Internal sources of change within the IMF, with particular attention paid to the role of the IMF staff as a source of continuity and reform. The focus here is on how IMF staff act as norm advocates to promote new policy agendas and to expand the IMF’s operational mandate in practice, as well as how staff may also resist top-down or externally-driven attempts to reform how the organisation operates
  • External sources of change. The focus here is on examining the mechanisms through which a range of actors – including major creditor states, emerging market economies, and borrower states, as well as non-state actors – are able to exercise influence over the evolution of the IMF’s roles. Rather than examining who is ‘pulling the strings’ behind the scenes at the IMF, this involves establishing the mechanisms through which external actors shape what the IMF does and how it does it, as well as how different sources of external influence combine to shape the agenda for change within the organisation.
  • The IMF as an independent actor. This involves exploring how the IMF engages with its member states bilaterally in an attempt to persuade national decision makers to adopt an IMF-friendly policy orientation. The focus here is on a range of different cases of the IMF’s interaction with national governments, including the IMF and industrialized economies, the IMF and low-income developing economies, and the IMF and post-communist economies.

Research outputs

The following is a selection of the work-in-progress papers and published work that have been produced as a result of the research so far:

  • Publications / Work-in-progress:

Broome. André (2011) ‘Stabilizing Global Monetary Norms: The IMF and Current Account Convertibility’. In Owning Development: Creating Global Policy Norms in the World Bank and the IMF, edited by S. Park and A. Vetterlein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Clegg, Liam (2010) ‘In the Loop: Multilevel Feedback and the Politics of Change at the World Bank and the IMF’, Journal of International Relations and Development, forthcoming.

Broome, André (2010) The Currency of Power: The IMF and Monetary Reform in Central Asia (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan/IPE Series).

Broome, André (2010) ‘The IMF, Crisis Management, and the Credit Crunch’, Australian Journal of International Affairs 64(1), forthcoming.

Beeson, Mark and André Broome (2008) ‘Watching from the Sidelines? The Decline of the IMF’s Crisis Management Role’, Contemporary Politics 14(4): 393-409.

Broome, André and Leonard Seabrooke (2008) ‘The IMF and Experimentalist Governance in Small Western States’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs 97(395): 205-26.

Broome, André and Leonard Seabrooke (2007) ‘Seeing Like the IMF: Institutional Change in Small Open Economies’, Review of International Political Economy 14(4): 576-601.

  • Paper Presentations

Broome, André and Liam Clegg (2009) ‘Keeping Score: The International Monetary Fund and Sovereign Creditworthiness’. British International Studies Association Annual Conference. Leicester, December 14-16.

Broome, André (2009) ‘Small States, Sovereign Creditworthiness, and the IMF’. Workshop on ‘Small States in the International Political Economy: What Role for the Commonwealth?’. Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, November 13.

Clegg, Liam (2009) ‘Ambiguous Goals and Blurred Accountability at the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility’. ‘The Future of Interdisciplinarity in International Relations’. A Midlands Regional IR Network Conference. University of Birmingham, September 15, 2009.

Broome, André (2009) ‘Global Monetary Rules and Norm Rebels’. Central and East European International Studies Association Conference. St Petersburg, September 2-4.

Clegg, Liam (2009) ‘The US, the World Bank, and the Power of Numbers’, International Studies Association Annual Conference. New York, February 14-16.

Broome, André (2009) ‘Global Monetary Norms and Renegade Regimes’. Department of Politics and International Studies Seminar, University of Warwick, January 14.

Clegg, Liam (2008) ‘The Evolution of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Initiative’. World International Studies Conference. University of Ljubljana, July 23-26.

Broome, André (2008) ‘The IMF and Renegade Regimes’. World International Studies Conference. University of Ljubljana, July 23-26.

Broome, André and Leonard Seabrooke (2008) ‘Seeing Like the IMF: Institutional Change in Small Open Economies’. International Studies Association Annual Conference. San Francisco, March 26-29.

Broome, André (2008) ‘Standardizing Currency Practices: The Emergence of Current Account Convertibility as a Global Policy Norm’. ISA-Funded Workshop on ‘Owning Development: Creating Global Policy Norms in the World Bank and the IMF’. San Francisco, March 25.

Broome, André and Leonard Seabrooke (2007) ‘Seeing Like the IMF: Legitimating Institutional Change in Small Economies’. Second Annual GARNET/CSGR Conference, ‘Pathways to Legitimacy? The Future of Global and Regional Governance’. University of Warwick, September 17-19.

Broome, André (2007) ‘Money for Nothing: The Historical Sociology of Monetary Crises’. Pan-European Conference on International Relations. Turin, September 12-15.