This study examines how numbers in transnational governance constitute actors, objects, and relationships, including relationships of power. We review the existing literatures on numbers for insights relevant to their role in transnational governance, including the ontology of numbers, the history of numbers and their role in governance. On this basis, we set out the main distinctive ways that numbers are implicated in transnational governance. We conclude that studies of transnational governance would benefit from paying more attention to the much overlooked performative role of numbers in governance processes. Numbers have properties that differ from words, and shifts from one to the other in governance, for instance in the displacement of laws or norms with risk models or rankings based on numbers, have particular effects, including political effects on states, firms, individuals, and other actors and institutions.
International Political Sociology, 2012, Vol 6, Issue 4, p. 409-426