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Why does the OECD exist? : a qualitative study into the added value of the organisation

MacLeod, Stephanie


Stephanie MacLeod



This thesis has two interrelated aims, both of which reflect my interest in the development of a variety of supra-national organisations since 1945 and the possibility that a new system of global soft governance may be emerging.

The first is to fill a gap in the literature created by scholarly neglect of one of the most important of these supra-national bodies, viz. the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The method adopted partly involves archival research and partly elite interviews with fifteen of the twenty original OECD member states.

The second aim is more theoretical. It consists of relating my research on the OECD to the development at global level of what some scholars have termed a novel system of soft governance. What characterizes soft governance is the gradual establishment by international organisations like the OECD of a relative degree of autonomy in their relations with the larger states with which they interact. My findings suggest that the this autonomy has transformed the OECD from a purely economic tool of large states into an institution enjoying a degree of independence as an expert adviser on issues of technology and development; as a moral educator on issues of social reform; and as a locus for diplomatic activity.

Although soft governance is fragile, my research points to the emergence of a wholly unplanned normative framework for interaction which alleviates the uncertainties of a post-Westphalian international order.

Particular attention has been devoted to Turkey, one of the original OECD members, since the Turkish case illustrates the great change in the global role of the OECD from being merely an American creation for implementing the Marshall Plan to a relatively autonomous international institution possessing a moral authority capable of transcending in some degree national economic, political, and cultural diversity.


MacLeod, S. (2016). Why does the OECD exist? : a qualitative study into the added value of the organisation. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Politics
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Politics, Philosophy and International Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Apr 1, 2016


Thesis (2.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2016 MacLeod, Stephanie. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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