Collegial Oligarchy and Networks of Normative Alignments in Transnational Institution Building: The Case of the European Unified Patent Court
NL : Elsevier B.V.
10 - 22 p.
Relational infrastructures, Institutional entrepreneurs, Collegial oligarchy
This paper presents a combined relational and cultural approach to transnational institution building by focusing on a network analysis of a small collegial oligarchy and normative alignments among its peers. To contribute to a theory of institutionalization, we propose hypotheses about whom professionals as institutional entrepreneurs are likely to select as members of their collegial oligarchy, about the role of social networks among them in identifying these leaders, and about the costs of alignments on these leaders’ normative choices. We test these hypotheses using mainly Exponential Random Graph Models (ERGMs) applied to a dataset including network information and normative choices collected at the so-called Venice Forum – a field-configuring event that was central in creating and mobilizing a network of European patent judges for the construction of a new transnational institution, the European Unified Patent Court. We track normative alignments on the collegial hierarchy in this network of judges and their divergent interpretations of the contemporary European patent. Highlighting this under-examined articulation of relational infrastructures and cultural framing in transnational institutionalization shows how Northern European forms of capitalism tend to dominate in this institutionalization process at the expense of the Southern European forms. It also helps reflect on the usefulness of analyses of small networks of powerful players in organizational societies, where power and influence are highly concentrated.