The Demand for Regimes- Keohane
-The theory of “hegemonic stability”: the view that concentration of power in one
dominant state facilitates the development of strong regimes and that fragmentation
of power is associated with regime collapse.
-Problems with this theory:
Doesn’t explain lags between changes in power structures and changes in
Doesn’t account for the differential durability of different institutions
Avoids addressing the question of why international regimes seem more
extensive now in world politics than during earlier periods
Doesn’t take into account the different level of demands for each
-“The more concentrated power is in an international system, the greater the supply
of international regimes at any level of demand”- microeconomic approach
I-Systemic constraint-choice analysis: virtues and limitations
-Systemic theory: actors’ characteristics not considered as variables, changes in
outcomes explained not on the basis of variations in these actor characteristics but
on the basis of changes in the attributes of the system itself.
-This theory limits the number of variables to be considered (advantage because
seeing a simple model helps us understand more when we add more variables)
-Systematic comparative description: by looking at historical cases, and comparing
them. (Useful but doesn’t provide a clear framework)
-Deductive analysis: focuses on constraints and incentives that affect the choices
made by the actors.
Changes in the characteristics in the international system will lead to changes in
behavior. Ex.: decisions about creating or joining an international regime will be
affected by system-level changes.
Constraint-choice analysis. /rational-choice to provide models that would indicate
the patterns of behavior that could emerge through particular trends.
-Two ways of creation of international regimes:
1) The imposition of constraints: dictated by environmental and powerful actors
“imposed regime” so it is important to take into account the structural context in
which agreements are made (voluntary choice doesn’t mean equality of situation or
2) Decision making
-Constraint-choice analysis views the regimes as contracts that have long term goals
and seek to stabilize their relationships and create a reciprocal beneficial
agreement. -No authority associated with international regimes more focus on
microeconomic theory than on theories of public choice.
Because public-choice theory focuses on processes by which authoritative decisions
are made within states (unimportant in international politics)
Why microeconomic theory? Because choices are made where the refusal to
purchase goods and services is an option.
The decision is then based on cost-benefit calculations- in general; states join the
regimes in which they expect the benefits of membership to outweigh the costs.
II-The context and functions of international regimes
-It’s important to study the context within actors make choices when analyzing
international regime-formation within a constraint-choice framework.
-Two features of the international context:
There’s no authoritative governmental institutions in world politics
World politics are characterized by pervasive uncertainty.
Agreements to avoid the state of “war of all against all” in a context of anarchy.
No higher authority to resolve difficulties or provide protection.
Negative effects: conflicts of interestsuncertainty & risk
-Basic insight about the supply-side about international regimes: goods that don’t
generate profit would stop being produced.
Hegemonic international systems produce higher level of goods than fragmented
-The demand issue.
Why are international regimes demanded? Basically because of the context of
conflict of interests, uncertainty and competitiveness.
More specifically: to maintain their exchange rates within certain limits, to refrain
from trade discrimination, to reduce their imports of petroleum, to reduce tariffs.
Not so efficient regimes at the international level due to nested agreements.
-Important question: Why, although the regimes are formed by a nesting of
agreements, is there a demand on international regimes and not on agreements on
an ad hoc basis (agreements on particular issues)?
Reason: Market failure- when agreements that would benefit all parties aren’t made.
// Microeconomics, world politics characterized by institutional deficiencies that
lead to problem of transactions costs and uncertainty so regimes are there to
overcome these deficiencies and provide efficient coordination.
1) The actors act as rational utility-maximizers and adjust to external changes to
increase the expected value of outcomes to them
2) The international regimes are there to facilitate the agreements among the actors.
So demand for international regimes based on demand for agreements.
-States should be better off with the regime than without it.
This doesn’t mean that all states are going to benefit; often regimes and alliances are
made to impose costs on other states “outsiders”. III- Elements of a theory of the demand for international regimes
-Two central problems:
-Distinction between international regimes and ad hoc agreements.
Regimes facilitate agreement by providing a framework of rules, norms, principles
and procedures for negotiation.
-Demand for international regimes if they make beneficial agreements that would
not be possible on an ad hoc basis efficient regimes.
-Key conditions by Coase for coordination among actors without regimes (only with
ad hoc agreements):
A legal frame