What's the point of theory?
o Facts never speak for themselves. We can't look at a problem without assumption. We learn
them through education, etc. So part of theory is to become aware of those lenses.
o Depending on one's theoretical assumptions, IOS can be:
Forums- IOS can be social environments where a bunch of social environments can
Resources or tools for states- rationalist idea.
o So theory helps us organise our thinking and realise our biases. Then once we realise this, we
can ask better questions.
Today's question: Why do states create and act through IOS?
o Realism: states are reluctant to create IOS because of the twin problems of relative gains and
o Liberalism: states create IOS to deal with political market failure and provide collective gods
o Principle- agent theory: states delegate certain functions to IOS.
In all of these views, IOS are instruments. Rational choice perspective. Actors make cost-benefit
calculations in order to make decisions. What it would cost to go through IOS and if those costs
exceed the benefits.
o Assumption of anarchy, no ultimate authority above states. No world government to turn to
so they must rely on themselves. Self-help.
o Maximise power to ensure security.
o So international organisations don't really matter- can't bind them- that could run counter to
logic of self-help. Realists suggest that they exist because they're the tools of great powers.
The distribution of material capabilities is key: IOS created to foster great power's own
o So why are they unwilling to create IOS? Especially states who aren't great powers.
Relative gains: states worry about the distribution of gains from cooperation. In
contrast to absolute gains. The amount of money you get compared to the amount
others get. In a self help system states are trying to maximise, so if you start to
cooperate but others gain more, then you're losing, even if you're still making money.
Cheating: states worry others will defect from the organisation.
o Prisoner's Dilemma
o Political Market failure
States create IOS to combat political market failure-
Increased number of transactions between members. And with that comes
benefits- helps to build familiarity between members. Creates opportunity to
punish those who defect.
A big forum like the IO provides chance for states to cooperate where normally
they wouldn't- do it out of a will to get cooperation in an area important to them.
Liberals suggest that more information makes it harder to non-comply. IO can
monitor compliance by member states. Provides info to all the partners.
Reducing transaction cost
Cost of doing business together.
Abbot and Snidal: IOS have 2 characteristics that help perform these functions o Centralisation: the idea o