Concentration despite competition: The organizational ecology of technical assistance providers
The Review of International Organizations
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When international organizations expand and proliferate, why do they fail to spread more evenly in their policy sphere? To answer this question, this article builds on organizational ecology theory, which was recently introduced into the study of international organizations. However, rather than studying each population separately, as previous studies have done, this article investigates how distinct populations with overlapping niches shape each other’s evolution. It argues that when inter-population competition occurs, the first population to occupy its niche at a high density limits the long-term development of other populations. This is the case even if emerging populations may temporarily enjoy a higher growth rate. The argument is illustrated by a study of the relations between four populations of technical assistance providers in the field of intellectual property. By doing so, the article brings for the first time inter-population relations in the study of international organizations and provides an explanation for the persistent concentration of international organizations in specific areas of the governance space.