Measuring the WTO's Performance: An Alternative Account

Rorden Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers an alternative account of the performance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) - an institution whose performance is usually assessed in terms of its capacity to function as a forum for the exchange of mutually beneficial trade concessions, its ability to act as an arena in which trade rules can be negotiated and its capacity to serve as a forum for settling trade disputes. The article argues that when understood in these ways, the performance of the WTO inevitably appears lacklustre. However, the fact that member states remain committed suggests that the criteria on which an assessment of the institution's performance ought to be based are different and the way in which we conceive of the institution is flawed. The article argues that if WTO performance is measured as the institution's capacity to act as a strategic device to maintain and exacerbate the advantages of a group of industrial states over their less powerful and developing counterparts (an aim that is much closer to the institution's intended purpose), then it has actually been quite successful, albeit undesirably so. © 2011 London School of Economics and Political Science and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


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