Constructing knowledge and policies on avian influenza: how do international organizations craft global models?

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Constructing knowledge and policies on avian influenza: how do international organizations craft global models?

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My dissertation examines how three specialized international agencies - the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) - produced and shaped global authoritative knowledge and policies on avian influenza. Collaboration among international agencies is unprecedented in global governance. My dissertation examines this novel collaboration, specifically, how the three agencies managed to overcome disconnect and competition, and eventually agreed on a One Health policy framework. Besides explaining this policy transition, I reveal how the WHO, FAO and OIE negotiated, constructed, and prioritized their solutions; how they reshaped boundaries between research communities to curate avian flu science; and why gaps between their ideal framework and practices persist. By illustrating the crucial and influential role of international agencies in science and policymaking, my research contributes to theories on international policy and norm formation. I demonstrate that international agencies are actively involved in global knowledge, policy and norm-making. In this case, they not only manufactured consensus on One Health, but they also influenced the interests and interactions of other global actors such as experts, transnational agribusiness, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and nation states. My work proves that international agencies have autonomy and power independent of nation states, which is often neglected in conventional theories on international relations and policy formation. In addition, my research challenges the conventional unidirectional assumption of the relations between science and policy. My findings reveal that avian flu science has co-evolved with policies, and that the WHO, FAO and OIE actively mediated the production of avian flu science and One Health knowledge by networking with selected experts. Furthermore, I reveal that international agencies are actors with bounded rationality. Although they demonstrated great capacity to affect other actors' interests, they are still constrained by their own bureaucratic attributes, the influence of other stakeholders, and political economic realities in the policy arena. Essentially, my dissertation reveals both the power and limitations of international agencies. It contributes to understanding how power is exercised in global governance, and how knowledge, power, and social order are intertwined.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Joachim J. Savelsberg. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 234 pages, appendices 1-3.

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Chien, Yu-Ju. (2013). Constructing knowledge and policies on avian influenza: how do international organizations craft global models?. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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