How Can International Law Be Used As A Tool For Conflict Resolution?

How Can International Law Be Used As A Tool For Conflict Resolution
International law not only provides one of the parties in conflict with grounds on which it can justify its argument. International law may also provide a normative basis for the settlement of the dispute, which may contribute to the overall solution of the underlying conflict.

What are the methods of conflict resolution in international relations?

Conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of conflict and retribution, Committed group members attempt to resolve group conflicts by actively communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologies to the rest of group (e.g., intentions; reasons for holding certain beliefs) and by engaging in collective negotiation,

Dimensions of resolution typically parallel the dimensions of conflict in the way the conflict is processed. Cognitive resolution is the way disputants understand and view the conflict, with beliefs, perspectives, understandings and attitudes. Emotional resolution is in the way disputants feel about a conflict, the emotional energy.

Behavioral resolution is reflective of how the disputants act, their behavior. Ultimately a wide range of methods and procedures for addressing conflict exist, including negotiation, mediation, mediation-arbitration, diplomacy, and creative peacebuilding,

How can international conflicts be prevented?

Preventive Diplomacy and Mediation – The most effective way to diminish human suffering and the massive economic costs of conflicts and their aftermath is to prevent conflicts in the first place. The United Nations plays an important role in conflict prevention, using diplomacy, good offices and mediation,

What are the main methods of conflict resolution?

Methods for Resolving Conflicts and Disputes What Are Your Options: We are all familiar with the most traditional dispute-resolution process of our civil justice system: litigation and trial with a judge or jury deciding who is right or wrong – where someone wins and someone loses.

However, there are many other options available. Negotiation, mediation and arbitration, often called ADR or alternative dispute resolution, are the most well known. Whether you are involved in a family or neighborhood dispute or a lawsuit involving thousands of dollars, these processes should be considered.

They are often the more appropriate methods of dispute resolution and can result in a fair, just, reasonable outcome for both you and the other party involved. Settlement and compromise have long been favored in the legal system. In fact, most cases that are filed in a court are settled and never go to trial.

  1. Only 5% of all cases filed go to trial.
  2. ADR procedures are excellent options for you in dealing with controversy, allowing you to reach resolution earlier with less expense than traditional litigation and allow you to maintain control of your legal matter.
  3. In fact, many courts require parties to consider some form of ADR before going to trial.

The following processes describe ways to resolve disputes. NEGOTIATION Definition: Negotiation is the most basic means of settling differences. It is back-and-forth communication between the parties of the conflict with the goal of trying to find a solution.

The Process: You may negotiate directly with the other person. You may hire an attorney to negotiate directly with the other side on your behalf. There are no specific procedures to follow – you can determine your own – but it works best if all parties agree to remain calm and not talk at the same time.

Depending on your situation, you can negotiate in the board room of a big company, in an office or even in your own living room. Negotiation allows you to participate directly in decisions that affect you. In the most successful negotiations, the needs of both parties are considered.

A negotiated agreement can become a contract and be enforceable. When and How Negotiation is Used: Most people negotiate every day. In some circumstances, you may want a lawyer to help you negotiate a fair deal. Negotiation is the first method of choice for problem solving and trying to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

If no agreement is reached, you may pursue any of the other options suggested here. This process can be appropriately used at any stage of the conflict – before a lawsuit is filed, while a lawsuit is in progress, at the conclusion of a trial, even before or after an appeal is filed.

Voluntary Private and confidential Quick and inexpensive Informal and unstructured Parties control the process, make their own decisions and reach their own agreements (there is no third-party decision maker) Negotiated agreements can be enforceable in court Can result in a win-win solution

MEDIATION Definition: Mediation is also a voluntary process in which an impartial person (the mediator) helps with communication between the parties and promotes reconciliation, which will allow them to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation is often the next step if negotiation proves unsuccessful.

The Process: The mediator manages the process and helps facilitate negotiation between the parties. A mediator does not make a decision nor force the parties to reach an agreement. The parties directly participate and negotiate their own settlement or agreement. At the beginning of the mediation session, the mediator will describe the process and ground rules.

The parties, or their attorneys, have an opportunity to explain their view of the dispute. Mediation helps each side better understand the other’s point of view. Sometimes the mediator will meet separately with each side. Separate “caucusing” can help address emotional and factual issues as well as allow time for receiving legal advice from your attorney.

Mediations are generally held in the office of the mediator or another agreed neutral location. Agreements can be creative and tailored to your specific needs. You could reach a solution that might not be available from a court of law. For example, if you owe someone money but don’t have the cash, rather than be sued and get a judgment against you, settlement options could include trading something you have for something the other party wants.

If an agreement is reached, it will generally be put in writing. Most people uphold a mediated agreement because they were a part of making it. If a lawsuit has been filed, the agreement is typically presented to the court as an enforceable order. If no lawsuit has been filed, the mediation agreement can become an enforceable contract.

  • If no agreement is reached, you have not lost any of your rights, and you can pursue other options such as arbitration or going to trial.
  • When and How Mediation is Used: When you and the other person are unable to negotiate a resolution to your dispute by yourselves, you may seek the assistance of a mediator who will help you and the other party explore ways of resolving your differences.

You may choose to go to mediation with or without a lawyer depending upon the type of problem you have. You may always consult with an attorney prior to finalizing an agreement to be sure you have made fully informed decisions and all your rights are protected.

  1. Sometimes mediators will suggest you do this.
  2. Mediation can be used in most conflicts, ranging from disputes between consumers and merchants, landlords and tenants, employers and employees, family members in such areas as divorce, child custody and visitation rights, eldercare and probate, as well as simple or complex business disputes or personal injury matters.

Mediation can also be used at any stage of the conflict, such as facilitating settlements of a pending lawsuit. Who Provides This Service: Attorneys and other professionals provide private mediation for a fee. If you have an attorney, you can work together to select a mediator of your choice.

  • You may want a mediator who is knowledgeable about the subject matter of your dispute.
  • You may wish to use a for-fee mediator in the first instance or if early settlement mediation has not resulted in a resolution of your dispute.
  • You may also find mediators or mediation services listed in the telephone directory or available on lists provided by some courts or private professional organizations.

When selecting a mediator, you should always check their credentials and get references. Mediators qualified under the District Court Mediation Act or certified pursuant to the Dispute Resolution Act meet statutory standards of training and experience.

  1. Public mediation services are available through Early Settlement Regional Centers located statewide.
  2. A list of the regional centers can be found online at
  3. This program provides the services of volunteer mediators, trained and certified to mediate in the Administrative Office of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Mediators in this system are assigned to mediate your dispute by the various program administrators. They are available at minimal or no charge to help you resolve conflicts, often without the assistance of an attorney or the need to go to court. Call 405-556-9300 for the phone number and location of the center nearest you.

  • You may also find mediation in our state and federal court systems called court-sponsored mediation.
  • Generally, you and your attorney may select a private mediator or choose a public service.
  • Fees may apply.
  • Judges are frequently referring cases to settlement procedures, such as mediation, to help litigants resolve their disputes in less time and with less cost than litigation and trial.

Characteristics of Mediation:

Promotes communication and cooperation Provides a basis for you to resolve disputes on your own Voluntary, informal and flexible Private and confidential, avoiding public disclosure of personal or business problems Can reduce hostility and preserve ongoing relationships Allows you to avoid the uncertainty, time, cost and stress of going to trial Allows you to make mutually acceptable agreements tailored to meet your needs Can result in a win-win solution

ARBITRATION Definition: Arbitration is the submission of a disputed matter to an impartial person (the arbitrator) for decision. The Process: Arbitration is typically an out-of-court method for resolving a dispute. The arbitrator controls the process, listens to both sides and makes a decision.

  1. Like a trial, only one side will prevail.
  2. Unlike a trial, appeal rights are limited.
  3. In a more formal setting, the arbitrator will conduct a hearing where all parties present evidence through documents, exhibits and testimony.
  4. The parties may agree to, in some instances, establish their own procedure, or an administrating organization may provide procedures.

There can be either one arbitrator or a panel of three arbitrators. An arbitration hearing is usually held in offices or other meeting rooms. The result can be binding if all parties have previously agreed to be bound by the decision. In that case, the right to appeal the arbitrator’s decision is very limited.

An arbitrator’s award can be reduced to judgment in a court and thus be enforceable. In nonbinding arbitration, a decision may become final if all parties agree to accept it, or it may serve to help you evaluate the case and be a starting point for settlement talks. How and When Arbitration is Used: A common use of arbitration is in the area of labor disputes – between firefighters and the city in wage disputes, for example.

You will usually be represented by an attorney in arbitration. Many contracts have clauses that require that disputes arising out of that contract be arbitrated. You may have seen such a provision when you applied for a credit card or opened a retirement account or other account with a stockbroker.

You may want to explore using this process if you and the other side agree that the problem needs to have someone make a decision, but you do not want the expense of going through the court process. If you agree to arbitrate or sign a contract with an arbitration clause, you should understand the arbitrator may make the final decision, and you may be waiving your right to a trial in court.

Who Provides This Service: Many attorneys, other professionals or professional associations offer their services as arbitrators. Typically, your attorney will select the arbitrator based on the particular type of dispute. In complex and highly technical cases, often an arbitrator who is knowledgeable in that field is chosen.

Can be used voluntarily Private (unless the limited court appeal is made) May be less formal and structured than going to court, depending on applicable arbitration rules Usually quicker and less expensive than going to court, depending on applicable arbitration rules Each party will have the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments May have a right to choose an arbitrator with specialized expertise A decision will be made by the arbitrator that may resolve the dispute and be final Arbitrator’s award can be enforced in a court If nonbinding, you still have the right to a trial Arbitration is not typically permitted for family law matters

LITIGATION (GOING TO COURT) Definition: Litigation is the use of the courts and civil justice system to resolve legal controversies. Litigation can be used to compel the opposing party to participate in the solution. The Process: Litigation is begun by filing a lawsuit in a court.

Specific rules of procedure, discovery and presentation of evidence must be followed. The attorney for the other side will want to take your deposition to learn more about the facts as you see them and your position in the case. There can be a number of court appearances by you and/or your lawyer. If the parties cannot agree on how to settle the case, either the judge or a jury will decide the dispute for you through a trial.

A trial is a formal judicial proceeding allowing full examination and determination of all the issues between the parties, with each side presenting its case to either a jury or a judge. The decision is made by applying the facts of the case to the applicable law.

That verdict or decision can conclude the litigation process and be enforceable; however, if appropriate, the loser can appeal the decision to a higher court. In some cases, the losing party may have to pay the costs of the lawsuit and the other party’s attorney fees. How and When Litigation is Used: Our American civil justice system is one of the best in the world.

Our Constitution gives us the right to a fair trial. If you want your day in court with a judge or jury of your peers deciding the outcome, the pursuit of litigation and trial of the case is for you. You may be in a municipal court, state district court or federal court depending on the type of dispute you have and where your attorney files your case or where you get sued.

State court trial judges are elected on a nonpartisan ballot, though vacancies are filled through an appointment process from highly qualified applicants. The district courts also appoint special judges who handle certain kinds of cases, such as small claims and divorces. These judges are selected by the district judges from qualified applicants.

Federal district judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Federal magistrates are selected by the federal district judges. In all courts, cases are randomly assigned to the various judges. You have no choice concerning which judge will hear your case.

  • Juries are randomly selected from a jury wheel of licensed drivers within each state judicial district and, in the case of federal court juries, from a jury wheel of registered voters and drivers license holders.
  • If you cannot settle your differences through negotiation, mediation, arbitration or some other means, you can pursue litigation through the courts with your lawyer.

Characteristics of Litigation:

Involuntary – a defendant must participate (no choice) Formal and structured rules of evidence and procedure Each party has the opportunity to present its evidence and argument and cross-examine the other side – there are procedural safeguards Public – court proceedings and records are open The decision is based on the law The decision is final and binding Right of appeal exists Losing party may pay costs

OTHER DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURES AND WHERE YOU MAY FIND THEM If you have a problem with a new car, you may find automobile arbitration through the Better Business Bureau to be a solution for you. The manufacturer of your car may also have a process of resolving disputes.

  1. If you are involved in agriculture and have a farmer-creditor controversy, the Agricultural Mediation Program may be helpful to you.
  2. For more information, visit or call 800-248-5464.
  3. Victim-offender mediation, which can result in restitution to the victim, is available through the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Other state and federal agencies sometimes offer settlement options in addition to their regular administrative procedures. For example, mediation of workers’ compensation claims is now available. If you do go to court, in addition to court-sponsored mediation or other ADR programs, you may find more procedures that encourage settlement or can resolve the dispute.

  • Your attorney can tell you about the processes available in the court in which your case is pending.
  • Appellate courts, such as our state Supreme Court and the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, have settlement conference opportunities.
  • Don’t forget Small Claims Court, where a judge can decide your dispute, usually without a lawyer, if your claim is valued under $10,000.

Early settlement mediation is often available here to offer settlement assistance first, so you may not need to go before the judge. Managing meetings and reaching consensus within any kind of organization or group can often be achieved through the assistance of a trained facilitator.

School Peer Mediation – Peaceful Resolutions for Oklahoma Schools (PROS), a project of the Oklahoma Bar Association Law-Related Education Department and Early Settlement, is training students to mediate their own disputes.Communication and conflict resolution skills classes may be available in your community by contacting the Law-Related Education Department at the Oklahoma Bar Association thanks to a partnership with Leadership Oklahoma.The OBA Alternative Dispute Resolution Section may be a resource to identify additional options. SELECTING THE APPROPRIATE METHOD

The method you use to resolve your dispute will depend upon your personal needs and the nature of your particular dispute. You may want to consult with an attorney to help diagnose which process best serves your particular situation. Considerations:

Private and confidential or in a public court setting Informal setting and a more flexible process or one that is more formal and has specific rules to follow Personal control or decision made by a judge or arbitrator Time Costs Maintaining relationships Dispute decided on questions of law, resolved with business principles or a solution found through other fair, yet practical means Binding and easily enforceable

There will always be times when a courtroom trial is the best option. Often, however, you are better served by one of the other alternative dispute resolution processes described in this brochure. With a better understanding of the considerations that can help you choose the most appropriate method, your conflicts can be more successfully managed and your disputes more satisfactorily resolved.

What are the 3 international dispute resolution?

There are a diverse set of techniques used in international dispute settlement, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and adjudication.

What is the role of international organizations in the process of conflict resolution?

The Role of International Organizations in Armed Conflict Within armed conflicts, international organizations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the ICRC play a variety of important roles, such as improving communication between opposing forces, facilitating humanitarian cooperation, building civilian-military dialogue, providing essential services to civilian populations, and encouraging all actors to uphold and implement the principles of international humanitarian law.

With their regional or global perspectives, international organizations can also identify issues and trends that may signal escalating tensions or conflict before the outbreak of hostilities, serving as an early warning mechanism or offering conflict resolution/quiet diplomacy services. In this panel discussion, senior representatives from the ICRC, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE will share insights into the unique roles played by their respective institutions.


Cordula Droege, International Committee of the Red Cross Christie Edwards, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Moderator) Maria Marouda, Council of Europe, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance Mona Rishmawi, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

This session is organized by ASIL’s International Organizations Interest Group, and co-sponsored by the Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict, Women in International Law, and Human Rights Interest Groups : The Role of International Organizations in Armed Conflict

What is a good example of conflict resolution?

Examples of Conflict Resolution Skills –

  • Assertiveness by a supervisor who convenes a meeting between two employees who have engaged in a public dispute.
  • Interviewing and active listening skills are utilized by a human resources representative to define the nature of a conflict between a supervisor and a subordinate.
  • A supervisor encouraging empathy by asking opposing employees to describe how the other might feel in conflict situations.
  • Managers of rival departments facilitating a brainstorming session with their staff to generate solutions to ongoing points of conflict.
  • Mediation skills by a supervisor who helps rival subordinates to identify mutually agreeable changes in behavior.
  • A co-worker seeking out a rival and suggesting that she would like to find a way to co-exist more peacefully.
  • Creativity and problem-solving by a supervisor who redefines the roles of two conflict-prone staff to eliminate points of friction.
  • Accountability established by a supervisor who documents conflict-initiating behaviors on an employee’s performance appraisal.

What do you mean by international conflict resolution?

International conflict resolution is concerned with processes of removing tensions between states or maintaining them at levels consistent with continued peaceful pursuit by states of their goals (individual or collective).

What do you mean by international law?

Overview – International law consists of rules and principles governing the relations and dealings of nations with each other, as well as the relations between states and individuals, and relations between international organizations. Public international law concerns itself only with questions of rights between several nations or nations and the citizens or subjects of other nations.

What role can international institutions have in mitigating conflict and promoting cooperation?

International Cooperation Theory and International Institutions The study of international cooperation has emerged and evolved over the past few decades as a cornerstone of international relations research. Our strategy for reviewing such a large literature is to focus primarily on the rational choice and game theoretic approaches that instigated it and have subsequently guided its advance.

  1. Without these theoretical efforts, the study of international cooperation could not have made nearly as much progress—and it certainly would not have taken the form it does in the 21st century,
  2. Through this lens, we identify major themes in this literature and highlight key challenges for future research.

While we emphasize the contribution of theoretical approaches to the study of international cooperation, this review goes beyond the success of formal models. First, advances in the study of international cooperation have been intertwined with substantive knowledge of international politics.

  • Indeed, a substantial and growing body of work on international cooperation does not directly depend on formal approaches, although this article argues that it has been deeply influenced by it.
  • Second, international cooperation theory is a progressive research program that has repeatedly confronted and responded to the limits of its analysis.

One of the prime virtues of formal work is that by making its assumptions clear, it helps researchers to identify its limits and thereby facilitates efforts to overcome them. Two examples developed here include the failure of early approaches to address either international institutions or domestic politics, both of which now figure prominently in cooperation theory.

Third, the study of international cooperation has also sparked competitive approaches, such as constructivism and agent-based modeling, which have broadened our understanding of international cooperation and provided important challenges for the rational approach. Although these competitors are sometimes presented as antithetical to rational cooperation theory, they are often highly compatible with the rational approach; like Fearon and Wendt () this article thus advocates a pragmatic approach and sees many potential synergies—and even some convergence—between the rational tradition and its competitors.

Focus here is on these areas of agreement rather than on engaging in a detailed discussion of the contributions of constructivism both for reasons of space and because Hoffmann () in this compendium already offers an excellent exploration of constructivist approaches.

Finally, while international cooperation has always been motivated by empirical puzzles—starting with why states cooperate in anarchy—recent work has integrated theoretical and empirical analyses in a more sophisticated and deeper way. Space limitations prevent us from covering the now extensive empirical literature based around international cooperation theory except for a few select examples.

We begin with the developmental logic of international cooperation theory (ICT), which is not a single theory but a family of closely related models. Rigorous analytical models have significantly sharpened our understanding of international politics. The second section reviews major themes in ICT.

We discuss the key assumptions and logics underlying this literature as well as strategies to deal with the empirical and theoretical challenges it confronts, including the need to deal with distributional and domestic issues. The third section reviews how ICT has reinvigorated the study of international institutions both as forms of international cooperation and as constraints on how international cooperation unfolds.

While ICT began with the assumption that states are the primary and unitary actors, recent work has modified this foundation by bringing nonstate actors and domestic politics into the study of international institutions. This essay concludes with an assessment of ongoing trends, needs, and possibilities for the ICT research program.

States have practiced international cooperation since well before Thucydides discussed diplomacy, treaties, and alliances over two thousand years ago. Yet the study of international cooperation is surprisingly young. The concept of cooperation, as we currently understand it, crystallized in the early 1980s (Taylor, ; Axelrod,, ) as the coordinated behavior of independent and possibly selfish actors that benefits them all.

Individual selfishness need not impede cooperation in situations of interdependence where one individual’s welfare depends on others’ behavior; cooperation requires neither altruism nor government—both of which are often in short supply at the international level.

  1. This definition of international cooperation is general in terms of both actors and issues.
  2. Cooperation occurs not only among individuals but also among collective entities, including firms, political parties, ethnic organizations, terrorist groups, and nation-states.
  3. Although ICT often defines international cooperation in terms of states, it can also involve other actors, especially intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

These diverse actors cooperate for different objectives across a wide range of issue areas: IGOs work with states to combat global environmental problems, firms collude to monopolize markets, NGOs campaign to save the whales, and so on. Finally, international cooperation is not always a good thing, at least from the perspective of those excluded or targeted.

For example, international sanctions involve cooperation against target countries (Martin, ; Drezner, ), and commodity cartels often harm consumer states. Although the phenomenon of international cooperation is broad, the rationalist approach to international cooperation shares common analytic elements.

It usually takes the actors and their objectives as given to focus on their strategic interactions. Thomas Schelling, a pioneer of the strategic approach to international cooperation, writes in the preface to the 1980 edition of his 1960 classic, The Strategy of Conflict : “I hoped to help establish an interdisciplinary field that had then been variously described as ‘theory of bargaining,’ ‘theory of conflict,’ or ‘theory of strategy.’ The field that I hoped would become established has continued to develop, but not explosively, and without acquiring a name of its own” (Schelling,, pp.

  1. V–vi). The name of that field that Schelling envisions could well be cooperation theory.
  2. Throughout The Strategy of Conflict is the simple premise that actors with conflicting goals nevertheless share a common interest that leaves much room for strategic interaction and for cooperation.
  3. This insight led Schelling to view most situations as bargaining situations.

If we think of reaching a mutually beneficial deal as cooperation, then actors’ differences over which bargain to strike raises distributional issues. The bargaining perspective leads to a host of related and extremely consequential considerations—including credible commitments, the advantageous use of a bargaining agent, issue linkages, and the effect of reputation—which have been developed more fully in the subsequent international relations literature.

  • ICT has taken Schelling’s key insight seriously.
  • In After Hegemony, Keohane () discusses conflict and cooperation as two sides of the same coin in international political economy.
  • This insight is more forcefully elaborated by James Fearon’s () rationalist explanation of war: because war is costly, even bitter enemies share a mutual interest in avoiding it.

Thus, Fearon explains war as the failure of the parties to cooperate on a peaceful solution. Further stimulation for ICT was provided by Charles Kindleberger’s () analysis of the Great Depression, which emphasizes the need for a hegemon to solve global public goods problems.

Because a pure public good benefits everyone, and no one can be excluded from it, there is no individual incentive to contribute to the good. Kindleberger built on Mancur Olson’s () analysis of how privileged groups dominated by one actor can overcome the resulting collective action problem. This research spawned a large hegemonic stability theory literature examining whether international leaders work through benevolence (as implied by Kindleberger) or through coercion, which was the only cooperation then countenanced by neorealism.

This was challenged by Keohane’s After Hegemony argument that institutions could maintain this cooperation even after hegemonic decline, and by Duncan Snidal’s () analysis that cooperation is possible in the absence of a dominant state. David Lake () provides a further extension regarding how to think about leadership in a hegemonic world, but this literature has unfortunately itself declined despite the continuing importance of understanding U.S.

dominance in the international system and a resurgent literature on global public goods (Kaul, Conceicao, Le Goulven, & Mendoza, ). Real world events and intellectual developments also shaped the emergence of ICT. Substantively, although the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan reinvigorated the Cold War, cooperation and institutionalization had become central to international politics: war among Western states seemed increasingly remote, there had been a dramatic rise of interdependence (Keohane & Nye, ), and the Bretton-Woods system had proved to be a fairly stable cooperative arrangement even through the crises of the 1970s.

Intellectually, new developments in noncooperative game theory offered a powerful framework for analyzing circumstances where there is no central authority to enforce agreements. Recognizing enduring cooperative arrangements in the real world and equipped with noncooperative game theory, a group of scholars set out to dispel the pessimism of the then-dominant neorealist approach by answering the question of how international cooperation is possible under anarchy.

  1. ICT challenges neorealism not by arguing that the neorealist view is entirely wrong but by showing that cooperation is possible even under its highly pessimistic assumptions.
  2. This strategy has proved incredibly successful, although not without costs, as this article discusses later.
  3. Works in this tradition worth consulting include Taylor (, ), Jervis (), Axelrod (, ), Stein (, ), Wagner (), Lipson (), Axelrod and Keohane (), Snidal (,, ), Donnelly (), Oye (), Conybeare (), Gowa (), Young (), Powell (), Martin (, ), Mitchell (), Morrow (, ), Fearon (), Drezner (), McGillivray and Smith (), and more.

Before engaging key issues and themes, it is important to be explicit about the major assumptions underlying ICT. First, the international system is anarchic, meaning that there is no central enforcement (Milner, ; Powell, ). However, ICT avoids the all too common fallacy of equating anarchy with conflict and instead leaves the question of whether and when anarchy results in conflict or cooperation as something to be demonstrated in the theory.

Second, ICT began with a focus on states as unitary actors. While nonstate actors and domestic politics undoubtedly matter, they were initially black-boxed in the interest of parsimony. This simplification was advantageous for uncovering a number of fundamental insights but, as discussed later, it obscured how those insights may relate to other actors and domestic mechanisms.

Third, ICT assumes that states act according to a more general conception of rationality—meaning only that they are consistent in pursuing their goals. The content of state goals is left open. Perhaps overreacting to realism and drawing too naïvely on the economism of game theory, early ICT focused on selfish, material interests, such as national security and prosperity, even though the approach can equally encompass ideational and other-regarding considerations (Elster, ; Ferejohn, ), such as human rights and justice.

  1. Fourth, ICT takes the preferences of actors as given and explains outcomes in terms of changes in the environment rather than changes in preferences (Lake & Powell, ).
  2. This is a methodological rather than a substantive assumption driven by the need to avoid empty tautologies through revealed preference.

Often criticized as a weakness of the approach, it is actually a strength that increases the falsifiability of its predictions (Snidal, ). Furthermore, only preferences over outcomes are taken as given in ICT, whereas preferences over action (viewed in terms of strategies) may evolve (Powell, ).

  1. This more general rationality assumption means that ICT can incorporate ideas that help to explain the sometimes seemingly irrational behavior of international actors with reference to their psychological and environmental constraints.
  2. Indeed, this is an important area of growth that will be discussed in subsequent sections.

ICT disproves the realist assertion that cooperation under anarchy is impossible without hegemony. Theorizing around this question relies heavily on a depiction of anarchy as a prisoner’s dilemma game where everyone’s incentive is not to cooperate even though all would gain from mutual cooperation.

  1. Using a prisoner’s dilemma (PD) that repeats over time, however, Taylor () overturns this dismal conclusion by showing that the long-term benefit of cooperation—the shadow of the future—creates incentives for rational actors to cooperate in anarchy.
  2. Axelrod () provided a parallel evolutionary account of cooperation, which has inspired further related work in agent-based modeling in international politics (Cederman, ).

The folk theorem generalizes these results to establish the possibility of cooperation in any recurring situation where there are joint gains to be made from cooperation (e.g., including games such as Chicken and Stag Hunt). But cooperation is not easy.

  • It is never the only equilibrium in a repeated PD game and some of the multiple equilibria do not involve cooperation.
  • Whether cooperation emerges depends on the circumstances and strategic choices of the actors.
  • Much scholarly effort has gone into specifying the conditions under which cooperation is likely and how international regimes and institutions may facilitate cooperation.

The volume Cooperation under Anarchy (Oye, ) provides a framework for systematic exploration of these issues around three factors that influence the likelihood of cooperation: the number of players, the payoff structures, and the iteration of the game.

  • These avenues—particularly the latter two—have become major themes in ICT, which we discuss below.
  • Cooperation is supported in repeated settings because of the possibility of reciprocity: if you cooperate with me, then I will cooperate with you in the future; but if you do not cooperate, then neither will I.

If both actors take this position—as in the famous tit-for-tat strategy pairing—then ongoing cooperation is supported against current defection incentives by actors’ interest in maintaining cooperation into the future. This analysis opens up the possibility of cooperation and raises interesting questions regarding the conditions under which strategies of reciprocity promote cooperation.

Parallel empirical work (e.g., Goldstein, ; Ward & Rajmaira, ; Goldstein & Pevehouse, ) has shed important light on these conditions. Reputational considerations provide a related mechanism, which extends a similar logic to actors who do not interact frequently enough for the shadow of the future of their own interaction to support cooperation.

Now cooperation is supported not by the limited retaliation from the immediate interaction but by the fact that third parties will be unwilling to cooperate with a defector. Thus, reputation provides a mechanism of diffuse reciprocity (Keohane, ), particularly where the number of actors involved makes specific reciprocity difficult.

  1. For reputation to support cooperation, however, defection or cooperation must be observable (Kreps, ).
  2. If not, cooperation may require an institution that can provide the needed information.
  3. Indeed, institutions have been defined as organizational forms that enhance monitoring and information transmission (Greif et al., ; Calvert, ).
See also:  What Does Implied Consent Law Mean?

In the law merchant system (Milgrom et al., ), for example, a trader knows whether his trading partner has been honest or has cheated on a trade. But outsiders cannot readily observe what has transpired in a given bilateral trade unless the law merchant serves as an institutional repository and communicator of information—in which case, the possibility and scope of cooperation are both expanded.

Does reputation actually matter in international politics? Some scholars are suspicious of reputational effects. Mercer () argued that although states may be sensitive about their own reputation, other states may not update the reputation of a state based on its past behavior. Similarly, Downs and Jones () claimed that the actual effects of reputation are much weaker than we usually expect because states revise their estimates of other states’ reputation only in limited cases.

Others believe that reputation does matter. Sartori () stressed the importance of reputation for effective diplomacy. Consistent with earlier works in ICT, Sartori argued that states strive to establish reputations for honesty in diplomacy, which enhance their ability to resolve future disputes using diplomacy rather than force.

Also supporting earlier insights from ICT, Tomz () provided empirical evidence that governments repay foreign debt to maintain a reputation for being reliable, which allows them future access to foreign capital. Whether reputation matters to states also has become a major theme in international law scholarship.

Many international lawyers claim that reputation is a primary mechanism enforcing states’ compliance with international law (e.g., Guzman, ). Others are more critical of the reputational effect and suggest that some unpacking of the idea of reputation—whose reputation, and reputation for what?—is necessary for the concept to be useful (Brewster, ).

  1. An important mechanism by which reputation effects cooperative outcomes is through trust—ultimately the salience of reputation comes down to whether an actor can be trusted to reciprocate cooperation.
  2. Consequently, recent research has focused on the specific role of trust and mistrust in promoting or undermining cooperation.

Kydd () models its role in historical cases of interstate cooperation and emphasizes that even where states distrust each other, cooperation can be achieved by states using costly signals of their trustworthiness. By contrast, Acharya and Ramsay () showed that in certain cases even minor misperceptions between actors can undermine cooperation and the role of communication in resolving this problem may be limited.

Rathbun () challenged accounts that model trust merely as information about others’ interests by defining trust as an ideological belief about the trustworthiness of others in general—thought of in this way, institutions may play a more minor role in facilitating some kinds of cooperation as trust can stimulate diffuse reciprocity in their absence.

Adding to the variety of approaches, trust has been defined elsewhere as a willingness to take risks on the behavior of others (Hoffmann, ). This literature suggests a number of potentially fruitful directions of research—including the need to operationalize trust more concretely.

  • If, indeed, reputation and trustworthiness (sometimes) matter, how can states enhance their reputation? The previously mentioned works primarily stress the importance of consistent international behavior on the part of states.
  • Other works point to domestic politics as a source of credibility.
  • Pioneered by Fearon (), scholars have specified how domestic “audience costs” can enhance a country’s credibility (Schultz, ; Smith, ).

In recent developments of this literature, Kertzer and Brutger () outlined two separate logics by which audience costs operate: domestic audiences punish leaders either for inconsistency or belligerency. Other work has sought to specify more precisely the role of costly signals play in building trust.

  • Todd Hall and Yarhi Milo () asked how state leaders evaluate the sincerity of their counterparts and show that leaders do not simply look at commitments in terms of costly signals but also rely on their personal impressions of one another.
  • Different payoff structures represent different strategic settings, where the likelihood of cooperation varies (Oye, ).

Snidal () argued against too singular a focus on two-player PD and for greater attention to other strategic settings and to other key dimensions of cooperation problems, including the number of strategies available, the number of iterations of the game, the number of players, and the distribution of power among them.

To demonstrate that different cooperation problems have very different properties, Snidal shows that PD and coordination situations lead to divergent implications for the institutionalization, stability, and adaptability of regimes and for the role of hegemony in the international system. Similarly, Stein () contrasted dilemmas of common interests, such as the PD game, and dilemmas of common aversions, such as the battle of the sexes game.

Although both situations may demand international regimes, regimes perform different functions with different dilemmas. More specifically, regimes that address different problems may have different informational requirements (Snidal, ). Regimes dealing with coordination problems only need to provide information on actors’ preferences since states have no incentive to deviate from the coordinated equilibrium.

  1. However, regimes dealing with the PD type of problem need to provide, in addition to information on preferences, information on players’ behavior because states have incentives to cheat.
  2. These ideas about different payoff structures and their implications for international institutions are further developed by Martin (, ).

While coordination regimes are relatively easier to maintain, they are not necessarily easy to establish. Krasner () demonstrated that coordination problems can be hard to resolve: even when states agree on the efficiency gains of avoiding the undesirable outcome, distributional considerations lead them to disagree on the preferred outcome.

  1. Rasner argues that the outcome will be determined by relative power capabilities: if the powerful benefit from the status quo without an international regime, then no regime emerges.
  2. Morrow () showed that distributional problems are particularly difficult to solve when actors have private information about their preferred solutions.

Although the actors all may be better off if they share their private information, their distributional concerns prevent them from sharing said information. Fearon () criticized the ICT tendency to characterize different empirical problems by different strategic settings.

Instead, Fearon argued that international cooperation has a common sequential structure that begins with negotiation (as in a coordination game) and follows with enforcement of the agreement (as in a PD game). This approach highlights the difficulty of achieving cooperation in the first place and brings together the issues of distribution and enforcement.

It also parallels the lesson of the folk theorem that any cooperation problem is likely to have multiple equilibria—that is, many possible outcomes each of which entail different levels of efficiency gains and different distribution. Thus, efficiency and distribution problems—and therefore enforcement of and coordination in selecting equilibria—are always joined in problems of cooperation.

  1. Once we understand international cooperation in a sequential manner, we realize that forward-looking rational actors will condition their behavior in the first bargaining stage on what they anticipate in the second enforcement stage.
  2. If a long shadow of the future means that an agreement is likely to be enforced in the second stage, then states will bargain particularly hard in the first stage.

As a result, as Fearon showed, the shadow of the future may make cooperation harder in the bargaining stage, countering the long-standing conclusion from ICT that focuses only on the enforcement stage. Koremenos () showed, however, that this problem can be attenuated, and cooperation restored, if the duration of agreements can be renegotiated in the second stage.

Building on Waltz (), Grieco () argued that states do not seek absolute gains (as ICT presumes) but pursue relative gains defined as maximizing their advantage over others. The underlying logic is based on the zero-sum game—where what one gains the other must lose—so that even if there are absolute cooperative gains among actors, there are no relative gains.

This position was widely endorsed by realists as critically undermining the ICT project. However, Snidal () exploited the fundamental flaw in the relative gains logic that zero-sum games only apply to two-actor worlds; with more than two actors, there are cooperative incentives for every pair of actors to cooperate in order to achieve relative gains over the other actors.

  1. As the overall number of actors becomes moderately large, these cooperative incentives dominate so that cooperation is not significantly impeded by relative gains considerations.
  2. Powell () took an alternative tack of denying that relative gains seeking makes sense and, instead, reworked the relative gains logic into a concern that current gains may enable your opponent to threaten your security in the future.

Whichever approach one takes, the concern over relative gains provides at most a minor modification to ICT and does not undermine it in any significant way. The relative gains debate also provides a good example in which the precision of mathematical theory clarifies and shows the limits of verbal theory.

Next, this article will discuss two more significant limitations to international cooperation: one is the large- n problem; the other comes from domestic politics. Large numbers of actors have contrary implications for cooperation. On one hand, insofar as public goods are involved, larger numbers expand the possibilities for collective gains.

On the other hand, large numbers of actors are harder to organize in collective action, and the possibilities for free riding proliferate. The net outcome of these factors depends on key contextual factors, such as whether actors can differentiate their behavior across other actors and how good their information is.

If actors can perfectly discriminate their actions, then the large- n situation can be broken effectively down into bilateral arrangements and readily supported by the folk theorem logic. But if actors cannot discriminate, then cooperators cannot retaliate against noncooperators without hurting other cooperators.

Cooperation can now be sustained only by extreme strategy combinations such as “everyone cooperates or else no one will cooperate again,” which are highly unstable in the face of accidents, misperception, misinformation, and renegotiation. Similarly, even if discrimination is possible, its effectiveness depends on having good information about everyone’s actions, which is difficult in large- n situations.

  1. That is why Oye () proposed reducing the number of participants to promote cooperation.
  2. This problem of large n has received fresh attention in discussions about the trade-off between breadth and depth in multilateralism (Downs, Rocke, & Barsoom, ; Gilligan, ).
  3. Here, a large number of participants in multilateral institutions lead to shallow cooperation because the level of commitments countries make is often determined by the least common denominator.

In the rational institutional design volume (Koremenos, Lipson, & Snidal, ), a large number of participants may intensify the difficulty with monitoring and enforcement, but it may sometimes mitigate distributional problems by generating additional ways to balance costs and benefits across actors.

  1. Another factor affecting international cooperation is domestic politics.
  2. As discussed, an initial assumption in ICT was that states are unitary actors with domestic politics in a black box.
  3. Of course, everyone knows that domestic politics is not irrelevant, and qualitative work on international cooperation often invokes domestic politics.

But the early formal work had no way to handle the problem: why sacrifice parsimony for no obvious gain? The implicit hope was that, although domestic politics is relevant, it would not undermine any fundamental findings in ICT. This situation changed with Robert Putnam’s () two-level games metaphor, which provides an analytical framework to bring domestic politics into the study of international relations.

Domestic politics not only complicates international cooperation but also may make cooperation more difficult. In Putnam’s work, legislative constraints can block potential agreement between heads of states. Furthermore, incomplete information regarding domestic veto players may cause negotiation failure or, if agreement is reached, create subsequent difficulties for compliance.

Many studies investigate the conditions under which domestic politics facilitates or hinders international cooperation (Mayer, ; Evans et al., ; Iida, ; Schoppa, ; Mo,, ; Milner, ; Milner & Rosendorff, ; Pahre, ; Tarar, ). Another strand of literature, energized by the democratic peace literature, is more upbeat regarding the impact of domestic politics on international cooperation.

  • Mansfield, Milner, and Rosendorff () claimed that domestic politics—specifically legislative constraints—enable democracies to better cooperate with each other.
  • Their particular explanation is problematic since, once their game theoretic model is correctly solved, legislative constraints no longer enhance democracies to cooperate with each other in trade liberalization (Dai, ).

If anything, rather than making democracies dyadically cooperative, legislative constraints give a democracy a monadic bargaining advantage in international trade negotiations (Dai, ). The broader question remains: do various aspects of democratic institutions positively affect diverse dimensions of international cooperation? As the literature expands, for every paper that says yes another says no.

For instance, on the question of whether democracies better fulfill their international commitments, there are positive answers on a broad range of issues including security (Gaubatz, ; Morrow, ), trade (Mansfield, Milner, & Rosendorff, ), investment (Jensen, ; Schultz & Weingast, ), the environment (Raustiala & Victor, ; Neumayer, ), and the credibility of commitments in general (Leeds, ; Martin, ; Lipson, ; Svolik, ).

On the other hand, there are many negative answers regarding the effect of democratic institutions on compliance with international commitments. Gartzke and Gleditsch () argued that democracies are less likely to fulfill security commitments to allies.

  • Busch and Reinhardt () found democracies less likely to comply with General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rulings.
  • Simmons () demonstrated that due to popular pressure, democracies are less likely to comply with Article VIII of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • Weiss and Jacobson (), as well as Bättig and Bernauer (), found that democracies are not always better able to comply with international environmental agreements.

Thus, the right question to ask is not whether but under what conditions democratic institutions positively influence states’ compliance (Dai, ). Indeed, scholars are increasingly mindful of the dual effects of domestic politics on international cooperation.

Dai () modeled states’ compliance with international agreements in terms of domestic interest competition. Channeled through political institutions, domestic constituency is a significant determinant of both the desirable and the not so desirable in compliance behavior. Clearly, international agreements have domestic distributional effects, which may undermine international cooperation.

But, under the right circumstances, these domestic distributional effects may also give rise to international cooperation. Indeed, a series of authors (Goldstein, ; Oatley & Nabors, ; Gruber, ; Moravcsik, ; Brewster, ) document the domestic sources of international agreements in terms of the benefits that they provide certain groups.

Mertha and Pahre () examined cases where difficulties in domestic implementation of international agreements may paradoxically make cooperation easier. In their account, common knowledge of the inability of China to enforce intellectual property rights agreements may have led China to agree to these agreements in the first place.

Here, domestic politics has opposite effects on international cooperation at the negotiation stage than in the implementation stage, much as the shadow of the future has opposite effects on international cooperation at the bargaining and enforcement stages.

  • As scholars look into a larger and broader set of domestic elements, the effects they discover on international cooperation are accordingly increasingly varied.
  • Vreeland (), asking why dictators who practice torture accede to international law prohibiting torture, argued that domestic power sharing arrangements matter.

Lupu () found that more legislative veto players allow greater effects of international human rights treaties. Mattes and Rodríguez () suggested that single-party and military regimes are relatively advantaged over personalist systems because the former share some institutional characteristics of democracies that are important for sustaining cooperation (such as accountability, limited flexibility, and greater transparency).

  • Going beyond this focus purely on states, other scholars have considered the influence of non-legislative domestic institutions.
  • Powell and Staton () evaluated how the effectiveness of domestic courts influences states in choosing to ratify and comply with human rights conventions—finding that ratification is more likely when judicial institutions are effective.

Lupu (), examining the varying effects of domestic courts in enforcing international human rights agreements, argued that domestic courts’ enforcement power is conditional on the information environment. Others further unpack domestic interests. For example, Chaudoin () argued that governments’ decision of when to resort to the WTO enforcement mechanisms depends on the strength of pro-compliance audiences.

  • Although ICT began with the question of whether international actors can cooperate without a central sovereign, it has ultimately laid the foundation for the study of central arrangements in the form of international institutions.
  • ICT, regime theory, and the study of international institutions are so intertwined that scholars use the single term “neoliberal institutionalism” to refer to all three.

Here we review how ICT contributes to defining and explaining international institutions. Krasner () defined international regimes as “principles, norms, rules, and decision making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given issue-area.” This definition has the great virtue of being very encompassing and of not equating regimes with centralized authority—which, of course, is lacking in anarchy.

  • It is also completely vague.
  • But this is its beauty: regime research could proceed without getting hung up on definitional arguments before the phenomenon itself was better understood.
  • Yet such vagueness was ultimately limiting.
  • As ICT developed, it has moved to the somewhat more precise language of international institutions.

This shift connected regime theory to the broader rationalist understanding of institutions as key components of equilibria. Institutions can be seen as including both the formal rules of the game being played as well as the informal common beliefs, expectations, and norms that guide the behavior of the actors within those rules.

As in New Institutionalism, the definition of institutions has broadened over time. While North () distinguished between institutions as rules of the game and organizations as groups of individuals that operate within the framework of institutions, Greif () defined institutions in a more encompassing manner as a system of social factors that include rules, beliefs, norms, as well as organizations.

Empirically, ICT has focused on formal international agreements and organizations because they are clearly observable, although their operations may still be hard to pin down. Agreements can be seen as the construction of new rules, and formal IGOs can be introduced as institutional actors with capabilities and goals that also need to be analyzed.

Unfortunately, and to its own detriment, ICT has had less to say about the development of informal rules and norms, something constructivists have been much better at and that poses a useful challenge for rationalist approaches. This analytic definition of international institutions as (components of) equilibria has several important advantages.

First, it highlights the duality that institutions are both exogenous and endogenous, a central issue in the New Institutionalism (Shepsle & Weingast,, ; North, ; Greif, ; Calvert, ). That is, the study of international institutions is about both (a) how existing international institutions shape and constrain action; as well as (b) how international institutions originate.

  1. This raises important (although still only partially answered) questions about institutional change and how and when, for example, endogenous informal rules become exogenous formalized rules.
  2. Second, it opens up questions about the choice of institutions in terms of selection among multiple equilibria, about the maintenance of an established cooperative institutional equilibrium against outside shocks, and about the transition from one equilibrium to another more cooperative one.

Third, this definition is useful in understanding how rules and organizations are closely linked so that it can be difficult to disentangle their effects (Haas, Keohane, & Levy, ), and in facilitating the important effort to bring formal international organizations—which had been left out of the theoretical development over the past several decades—back into institutional theories.

If institutions are equilibria, however, why do we need real institutions as opposed to strictly decentralized action? Do international institutions matter in the sense of having independent effects in constraining states’ behavior? Realists such as the author of Mearsheimer () claim that because international regimes are the products of states and thus derivative of state power, they are epiphenomenal.

In a similar vein, realist international lawyers argue that customary international law is epiphenomenal and reflects only incentives of states (Goldsmith & Posner, ). Partly responding to such challenges, recent studies take the duality of international institutions much more seriously (Keohane & Martin, ).

They address the specific ways in which international institutions constrain state behavior by unpacking the various components and roles of international institutions and by recognizing that international organizations are not merely sites of, but rather agents in, international cooperation (Abbott & Snidal, ).

Thus, the institutional agenda becomes one of examining how institutional rules and institutional actors change state behavior. Ironically, as a result of a turn toward new but messy cooperation problems such as climate change, recent work has moved away from institutions to the more imprecise terminology of regime complexes.

  • Eohane and Victor (), for example, looked at the system of overlapping regimes related to climate governance and pointed to their benefits over a single comprehensive regime due to greater capacity of adaptation.
  • The next section discusses major works that extend ICT directly into the analysis of international institutions.

Whereas prior work on international organizations was largely descriptive, issue specific, and ultimately moribund, a major contribution of ICT is to pose general theoretical questions about international institutions that transcend individual issue areas.

  1. If ICT has shown that cooperation is possible and can emerge spontaneously, both the theory and the record of international politics demonstrate that cooperation is difficult to initiate and fragile once created.
  2. By identifying the prerequisites for cooperation, however, ICT thereby also identifies what is missing from or obstructing cooperation where it does not arise.

Rational actors can then use institutions, or design new ones, to overcome these obstacles and promote international cooperation. Consider the use of institutions to create issue linkage. In a repeated game, actors can cooperate with one another if the shadow of the future is long enough but that requires a minimum density of interactions that actors may not share on a given issue.

  • International institutions can therefore promote cooperation by linking different issues together to create a situation similar to a repeated game (McGinnis, ; Lohmann, ).
  • Institutions can also increase the benefits of cooperation by orchestrating mutually advantageous trades across issues.
  • Sebenius () showed that adding issues can yield joint gains that create or enhance a zone of possible agreement.

For example, environmental issues, which are more important to postindustrial states, are often linked to issues of development to secure the participation of developing countries. In her study of international sanctions, Lisa Martin (; see also Drezner, ) highlights the importance of international institutions in promoting issue linkages by providing a framework for side payments among sanctioning states.

  • Likewise, Davis () found that issue linkage through international institutions counteracts domestic obstacles to agricultural liberalization by broadening the negotiation stakes.
  • Finally, linkage can be either direct as through specific punishment on one issue of bad behavior on another or indirect as when states stake their reputations (as discussed in the section on above).

Simulating a repeated game, however, is not sufficient to induce cooperation. In order to make future benefits contingent on current cooperation, current behavior must be observable. International institutions thus strengthen cooperation by enhancing transparency (Mitchell, ).

  • Simply agreeing on a rule regarding what constitutes cooperation can be an important first step in getting states to change their behavior to the prescribed cooperative actions and in provoking and justifying retaliation against noncompliance (and therefore ensuring compliance in the first place).
  • International institutions also provide compliance information in diverse ways.

For example, the International Atomic Energy Agency carries out both routine and special nuclear inspections; in contrast, human rights treaty organizations rarely go beyond collecting governmental self-reports. Dai () argued that the choice of monitoring arrangements is determined by states’ interests to protect victims of noncompliance as well as the availability of noncompliance victims as low-cost monitors.

  • In other cases, formal IGOs play an important role by adjudicating state actions, as when the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) determines whether trade rules have been violated.
  • However, the DSM has no direct enforcement capacity and relies on authorizing decentralized enforcement by WTO members.

This preserves the spirit of anarchy in the sense of no centralized enforcement even as it introduces a more nuanced view of how centralized international institutions that lack enforcement capacity can nevertheless play an important role in facilitating and orchestrating compliance with international rules.

  1. Because international institutions can enhance cooperation through mechanisms such as promoting issue linkage or providing necessary information, states therefore create institutions to solve their collective action problems.
  2. But institutions vary tremendously in form and a lot of work in ICT has focused on explaining this variation.

In an influential early contribution Ostrom () examined the nature of cooperation problems created by common pool resources (finite resources that require protection against over-utilization) to illustrate how these have been resolved in various settings through different types of voluntary organization.

  1. This work has influenced a number of theoretical developments in ICT, particularly in relation to design, and Keohane and Ostrom () address these contributions explicitly.
  2. Along these lines it has been shown that institutional solutions can be formal or informal (Lipson, ; Stone, ; Vabulas & Snidal, ), or soft or hard (Abbott & Snidal, ) depending upon the precise nature of the cooperation problem.

For example, states codify some mutual understandings into treaty law, while leaving other understandings in the realm of customary international law. Koremenos et al. () investigated the diverse design features of formalized international institutions, including their membership rules, the scope of issues covered, the centralization of tasks, rules for controlling the institution, and the flexibility of arrangements.

  • They explain these variations as deliberate institutional designs that enable states to ameliorate cooperation problems in diverse areas from trade to air regulation to transboundary environmental issues.
  • The design choice for an issue depends on its characteristics, including the prospects for efficiency gains, distributional problems, the number and heterogeneity of states involved, and uncertainty about the state of the world, other actors, or behavior.

Sharing the general logic that states construct international institutions to advance their goals, Smith () explained the variation of governing structures in regional trade pacts, while Dai () explained the variation of monitoring arrangements in treaty regimes.

  1. In more recent developments of this design agenda, Thompson () looked at the extent to which flexible institutions result from uncertainty and concluded that even though uncertainty plays a role, distributional concerns and the relative bargaining power of states are also important.
  2. Stone (), meanwhile distinguishes between formal and informal power in international institutions suggesting that powerful states provide weaker states with more formal control in order to enhance the legitimacy of the institution, while weaker states accept the informal influence of the more powerful states.

Related to these more theoretical developments, a great deal of empirical work has emerged in the early 21st century that focuses upon the design of international trade agreements and investment treaties. Allee and Peinhardt, (), for example, account for variation in the design of bilateral investment treaties in terms of the bargaining power and preferences of capital-exporting states.

Elsewhere, Dür, Baccini, and Elsig () measured agreement depth, while Kucik and Reinhardt () considered the flexibility and rigidity dimension of trade agreement design. Finally, Stone, Slantchev, and London () elucidated the trade-off between breadth and depth as a function of hegemony. These works build on ICT to explain variation in institutional arrangements as rational designs by states using international institutions to advance their interests.

They also extend ICT through their emphasis on the broad range of additional factors that affect strategic settings, including domestic complexities and state power. Crucially, the design approach takes a first step toward explaining institutional origins and change by moving beyond the somewhat empty functionalist language that is sometimes erroneously equated with the rationalist approach to focus on the intentional sources of institutions.

  • As a result, the design approach has recently broadened from considering the causes of design choices to also explore their consequences.
  • A focus here has been on investigating empirically the consequences of certain design choices with respect to trade agreements, particularly in terms of depth and rigidity (Johns, ).

Elsewhere, Cooley and Spruyt () addressed the downstream implications of agreement flexibility for states engaging in sovereign transfers through the lens of an incomplete contracting framework. Pelc () evaluated the welfare effects of agreement flexibility at the WTO.

Regardless of why states design and create them, what effects do international institutions have? Do international institutions help states resolve their collective action problems by promoting compliance with agreements? Studies on compliance, in particular, specify causal mechanisms by which international institutions induce states to comply with international agreements.

Do states comply and why? Different answers hold different implications for understanding international institutions. The managerial school (Chayes & Chayes, ) differs from the mainstream rationalist literature in emphasizing capacity building and rule interpretation over changing incentives as the primary role of international institutions; it is generally optimistic about the effectiveness of international institutions.

In contrast, the enforcement school (Downs et al., ) stressed the need for enforcement and coercive sanctions, as it found these sanctions lacking and is correspondingly pessimistic. Despite the protracted debate between the managerial and enforcement schools, a more realistic assessment is Tallberg’s () finding that a combination of coercive and problem-solving strategies has induced state compliance with European Union directives.

This reminds us that the rationalist ICT program can be usefully supplemented by related understandings of international cooperation. There is a vast empirical literature on compliance and the effects of international institutions spanning many issue areas.

An illustrative example is Oran Young and others’ investigations of the effectiveness of international environmental regimes (e.g., Mitchell, ; Young,,, ; Bernauer, ; Schreurs & Economy, ; Helm & Sprinz, ; Underdal & Hanf, ; Hovi, Sprinz, & Underdal, ; Underdal & Young, ). Even in international security, formerly the exclusive preserve of realist anarchy, scholars increasingly address how institutional features of alliances, ceasefire agreements, or laws of war shape military cooperation (Leeds, Long, & Mitchell, ; Fortna, ; Leeds, ; Leeds & Savun, ; Morrow, ; see also the earlier discussion linking domestic regimes to compliance with international commitments).

These examples illustrate the penetrating impact of ICT on the entire international relations discipline. While no brief review can do justice to the voluminous insights generated in the large empirical literature, it is clear that empirical studies provide much of the basis for the continuing effort to specify causal mechanisms for institutional effects.

  • Increasingly, scholars examine international institutions in a broader range of strategic settings.
  • Simmons () argued that international institutions raise the cost of noncompliance and thereby enable complying governments to send signals to the market.
  • Elley () compared two mechanisms by which international institutions influence states’ behavior and finds that membership conditionality is more effective than socialization-based efforts.

Highlighting domestic dynamics, Dai () argued that international institutions influence national policies through empowering domestic constituencies. Chapman () and Fang () modeled how international institutions provide informational clues to domestic audiences and thereby alter domestic politics.

  1. Simmons () found that human rights treaties constrain states because they help mobilize domestic stakeholders.
  2. Works on indirect effects of international institutions are closely related to the literature on domestic politics and international cooperation discussed above.
  3. Works reviewed in the section on, including Vreeland (), Powell and Staton (), Lupu (, ), and Chaudoin () among others, all speak to the domestic conditions that may facilitate or prohibit the effects of international institutions.

This line of research continues to uncover previously underspecified channels of influence. ICT has been criticized, with some justification, for paying insufficient attention to distribution and power (Wendt, ). Its original problematic of cooperation under anarchy implicitly treated the achievement of order through international regimes as a public good that benefited all (Kindleberger, ).

While Keohane (), for instance, recognized the distributive issues at stake, the literature emphasized efficiency explanation for international regimes in promoting cooperation. Despite attention to coordination problems, bargaining, relative gains, and distributional issues in design as noted above, distributional issues and conflicts have not been sufficiently prominent.

This benign view of cooperation in turn deemphasizes the importance of power. But of course, institutions are often tools of redistribution, and Knight () argues that distributional effects of social institutions are central to understanding their development and change.

To correct the insufficient attention paid to power and distribution by early ICT then, more recent work has refocused on these issues (albeit without drawing the same overly pessimistic conclusions of neorealism), Gruber (), for example, contends that power asymmetries, rather than undermining cooperation entirely, can mean that some international cooperative arrangements work to the disadvantage of some participants: where powerful states have the ability to go it alone, weaker states must choose the lesser evil between being left out of an international institution or joining it, even when both options leave them worse off compared to the status quo.

In a similar vein, Oatley and Nabors () explained the 1987 Basle Accord on banking regulations as a case of a powerful state using international agreements for redistributive purposes. In particular, the United States redefined the choice set to transfer income from Japanese commercial banks and compensate American commercial banks for the costs of domestic regulation.

  • While many other works view the powerful as a driving force behind international institutions (e.g., Ikenberry, ), Gruber () and Oatley and Nabors () drive home the point that international institutions are sometimes used by the powerful as tools of redistribution.
  • In their view, international institutions are not just bargains that reward participants unequally but may actually diminish the welfare of some.

Abbott and Snidal () offered a more benign but still distributive view that weaker states accept unfair deals in return for the stability and protection provided by international law. In more recent work along these lines, Sampson () showed how institutional design can be shaped by relative power dynamics, with powerful, rising states in particular able to take advantage of the development of initially limited institutions over time in order to shift distributional outcomes in their favor.

While these works bring power considerations into ICT, they differ sharply from standard realist perspectives in emphasizing the continuing importance of cooperation even when it leads to asymmetric distributions, as well as the centrality of institutions in shaping the impact of power. These works extend ICT by viewing international redistribution as another key driver of international institutions but also by pointing to domestic sources for international redistribution.

Downs and Rocke () examined how domestic uncertainty shapes the design of international trade institutions. Goldstein () found that the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada helped to strengthen the executive in controlling a bureaucracy with protectionist preferences.

  1. Moravcsik () argued that newly democratic states joined the European human rights regime to stabilize their domestic political status quo against nondemocratic threats.
  2. More generally, Brewster () suggested that the demand for international institutions may indirectly come from providing certain domestic interest groups with policy advantages.

Adding to the broadening of the design agenda but also closely related to issues of distribution, recent research considers the mechanisms and processes by which institutions evolve. Historical institutionalists in particular have provided an important qualification to the rational design agenda by pointing to the timing and sequence of events as central to shaping institutional outcomes (Fioretos,, ).

  • While this can be seen as a challenge, ICT may actually benefit from internalizing some of these critiques.
  • As illustration Jupille, Mattli, and Snidal () combine standard rationalist theory with historical institutionalist accounts through the bounded rationality assumption and offer a theoretical framework to explain why and how institutions emerge, evolve, and persist.
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In coming at this problem from a more traditional rationalist approach Morse and Keohane () pointed to the ways in which institutional creation is driven by competition between existing multilateral institutions. Finally, another strand of this literature points to the reasons why institutions may be changed or created because existing institutions are no longer be considered fit for purpose, perhaps because they fulfill different objectives to those initially intended by their designers.

  • This work is discussed in more detail in the next section on,
  • While continuing to demonstrate the central role of institutions in facilitating cooperation among states, attention has turned to the role of institutions as independent actors.
  • In addition to continued exploration of the principle agent problem that arises from delegation of powers to institutions from states (Elsig, ), new research points to the ability of institutions to undermine states through a different mechanism: orchestration of sub-state actors.

Abbott, Genschel, Snidal, and Zangl () showed how international organizations are able to leverage their limited resources to increase their autonomy from states. Elsewhere the growing regulation literature also emphasizes the sometimes negative effects of independent institutional action; for example Büthe and Mattli () highlighted the trend toward delegation of international regulatory authority to private-sector organizations and pointed to the political nature of global rule making.

Elsewhere Barnett and Finnemore () argued that the power to make rules from which institutions derive independent power can also make them unresponsive and ineffective at the tasks for which they were originally designed. In a similar vein Guzman () pointed to the problematic aspects of institutional autonomy that he terms the “Frankenstein Problem” by which states lose control of the institutions that they create: this, he suggests, partially explains why there are so many IOs and why they vary so widely in scope.

Green and Colgan () found that to avoid this problem states tend to delegate functions to institutions with lower sovereignty costs, such as implementation and monitoring, but rarely delegate rule making and enforcement. In contrast to these approaches Drezner () emphasizes the positive aspects of independent institutional action with reference to the crucial role of international institutions in mitigating the effects of the financial crisis.

Helfer and Voeten () meanwhile used the European Court of Human Rights’ role in promoting LGBT rights as an illustration of the active role that institutions can play in driving policy change in states. Adopting a similar approach Fang and Stone () modeled the ways in which international organizations independently exert influence on policymaking elites.

The difference in emphasis between those that highlight the negative and positive aspects of institutional independence suggests that exploration of the more normative aspects of international cooperation is an area which might present fruitful opportunities for further research.

  • It is difficult to end our discussion because ICT is a continuing and evolving research program; any synopsis will be quickly out of date.
  • Instead of a conclusion, this article points toward several ongoing trends, needs, and possibilities for the ICT research program.
  • First, while the easy gains of theoretical progress through adapting results from game theory have largely been harvested (though they are surely not yet exhausted), there are several other stimuli for further theoretical progress.

Some stimuli are internal to the ICT research program and involve pursuing its theoretical logic into more detailed analyses of specific cooperation issues. Important examples highlighted above include ongoing work incorporating domestic politics into ICT, examining the role of IOs as independent agents, and exploring the design features of specific international institutions in detail.

Other stimuli are external as alternative approaches, especially constructivism, emphasize different aspects of international cooperation (and its failures) for which rational approaches do not yet provide a satisfactory explanation. These different stimuli often come together in raising questions regarding institutional change and creation, which have largely eluded all perspectives to date.

While there are natural tensions between different approaches, there are also complementarities including, above all, a common concern to better understand international cooperation. An important external stimulus increasingly comes from work in psychology on the nature and limits of decision making; in ICT this has led to work that has focused on developing or qualifying the rationality assumption traditionally associated with cooperation theory.

Much of this work has centered on identifying the consequences of actor’s psychological limitations by modeling seemingly irrational behaviors as “errors” or “deviations” (Carlsnaes, Risse, & Simmons, ). In a number of areas this has led to employment of bounded rationality to explain counterintuitive outcomes, Skovgaard Poulsen for example ( 2013 ) uses bounded rationality to explain why states adopt investment treaties despite the high sovereignty costs that they incur for doing so.

Elsewhere this research has taken a different tack by identifying fundamental biological constraints on actor decision making. Kuo, Toft, and Johnson () returned to the study of bargaining games through evolutionary game theory, arguing that territorial conflicts in international relations follow a strategic logic but one defined by the cost-benefit calculations that prevailed in humans’ evolutionary past.

  • There has also been promising work on testing these psychological biases through experimentation (Kertzer & McGraw, ) though questions relating to the external validity of these results persist.
  • Another important direction for research in this vein has been to consider how to model the effects of emotion on the behavior of international actors.

Though this work challenges ICT’s emphasis on the rational actor model, related research is making it increasingly clear that emotion and rationality are related in practice. Consequently, there exist opportunities for new developments to be explored within ICT without discarding the methodologically useful assumption of consistent preferences.

  1. McDermott () proposes a model of decision making that incorporates the notion of “emotional rationality” by arguing that emotional processing is an inherent part of rationality itself—emotion facilitates quick and accurate decision making.
  2. In applying these ideas to the field of international cooperation more specifically, Hall () considered the role of anger in diplomacy and suggests that anger makes certain issues sensitive and volatile—and thus outside the realm of standard bargaining interactions.

Elsewhere Mercer () argued that a belief in another’s commitment to cooperation depends on actor’s interpretation of evidence and actor’s assessment of risk—both of which rely on emotion. Relating these insights to conflict Ross () argued that institutions tasked with reducing violence cannot afford to assume that emotions are an obstacle rather than resource for conflict resolution.

Mercer () broadened analysis of emotions to groups and contended that group-level emotion is powerful, pervasive, and irreducible to individuals. People do not merely associate with groups (or states); they can become those groups through shared culture, interaction, contagion, and common group interest.

In addition to these theoretical developments, there continues to be extensive empirical scholarship dedicated to both testing and refining the ICT program. This work is likely to provide continuing grist for advancing ICT. While there have been complaints that this style of work tends to shy away from the big questions (in the context of international political economy, see Weaver, ), that danger can be overcome by keeping the research program tightly connected to the big questions that originally motivated ICT and that continue to be important problems both theoretically and in the world.

  • A great deal of new empirical research has begun to move away from questions of centralization and to return to analyzing forms of decentralized cooperation (albeit in ways that often also incorporate institutions) through network analysis.
  • This research has tended to focus on issues such as the relationships between particular governance institutions or the influence of network neighbors on state behavior.

It emphasizes positionality—an actor’s location within particular networks and relates structures to outcomes by measuring the specific structural properties of networks. It also introduces the idea of network power (Hafner-Burton, Kahler, & Montgomery, ).

Questions addressed by network research include how the position of an actor in a particular network influences its behavior compared to its geographical location (Zhukov & Stewart, ) or how particular networks facilitate the exercise of power in international institutions (Merand, Hofmann, & Irondelle, ).

In a return to questions of design, Kinne () showed how bilateral agreements constitute an evolving network of cooperative ties and that these networks define the strategic environment in which states bargain. Such work suggests that ICT has important policy implications for how we can promote international cooperation through better policies and by designing better institutions—as well as for general issues of international and global governance.

Of course, there is a need to avoid the hubris of assuming that the simple models and theories of ICT can solve the world’s problems. Because its results are at a fairly abstract and general level, ICT does not offer immediate solutions to specific problems. But it does provide important insights—including broad guidelines for how to approach solutions to cooperation problems—that can be usefully conveyed to the policy community.

We now know much more about the possibilities of cooperation and about the associated institutional needs; it is irresponsible not to make such knowledge more widely available. In doing so, ICT must continue overcoming its statist heritage (states as actors) by recognizing the greater complexities of, and possibilities for, international governance raised by the inclusion of other actors.

ICT has already taken important steps in this direction by incorporating domestic politics to a greater degree and by recognizing the agency of international organizations; it has more work to do in incorporating NGOs and private actors such as firms that play an increasing role in private-public partnerships at the global level.

This will engage ICT with a host of new regulatory issues that are emerging at the international level precisely because the (domestic) state is no longer able to manage transnational issues alone (Mattli & Woods, ). Finally, ICT needs to be connected to the normative issues that have always been important but usually unspoken in its development.

  1. Although it is possible to study topics such as cooperation and institutional design from a mainly positive perspective—for example, without evaluating the ends being pursued by actors—in fact, much of our research is implicitly motivated by a concern to make things better (Reus-Smit & Snidal, ).
  2. Especially if ICT is to be used for policy purposes, it must be married to careful consideration of what should be the goals of cooperation (see Diehl et al., on the interaction of normative and operating systems in international law).

Similarly, for an analysis of topics such as distribution and power to have any real bite, we must evaluate the distributive effects and the ends to which power is being used. Thus, while ICT has been successful as a positive theory, it can be even more successful and much richer by expanding its normative side.

What are the five main purposes of an international organization?

United Nations Agencies and Related organizations – The United Nations focuses on five main areas: “maintaining peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, supporting sustainable development, and upholding international law “.

  • UN agencies, such as UN Relief and Works Agency, are generally regarded as international organizations in their own right.
  • Additionally, the United Nations has Specialized Agencies, which are organizations within the United Nations System that have their member states (often nearly identical to the UN Member States ) and are governed independently by them; examples include international organizations that predate the UN, such as the International Telecommunication Union, and the Universal Postal Union, as well as organizations that were created after the UN such as the World Health Organization (which was made up of regional organizations such as PAHO that predated the UN).

A few UN special agencies are very centralized in policy and decision-making, but some are decentralized; for example, the country-based projects or missions’ directors and managers can decide what they want to do in the fields. The UN agencies have a variety of tasks based on their specialization and their interests.

  1. The UN agencies provide different kinds of assistance to low-income countries and middle-income countries, and this assistance would be a good resource for developmental projects in developing countries.
  2. The UN has to protect any kind of human rights violation, and in the UN system, some specialized agencies, like ILO and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ), work in the human rights’ protection fields.

The UN agency, ILO, is trying to end any kind of discrimination in the work field and child labor; after that, this agency promotes fundamental labor rights and to get safe and secure for the laborers.

Why is it important to study international conflict?

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  1. The world is in need of individuals who have great ambition and want to make a positive impact.
  2. Studying international relations is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of global issues.
  3. It’s an intriguing and important subject which places great emphasis on economics, culture, education, and political science and examines the impact they have on society.

You’ll also learn how and why nations, governments and individuals respond accordingly to such issues. So, why else should you consider studying a master’s in international relations? We’ve teamed up with IE University to find out.

What are methods in international relations?

Methods of Foreign Policy Analysis The periodic reassessment of research methods is important to the vitality of any academic discipline, but it has particular salience for a relatively young field such as foreign policy analysis (FPA). Hudson and Vore (:221) acknowledge as much in their review of the FPA literature, noting that, “in the study of foreign policy decision-making, the issues are not theoretical but methodological.” I define foreign policy analysis as the study of how states, or the individuals that lead them, make foreign policy, execute foreign policy, and react to the foreign policies of other states.

  1. This topical breadth results in a subfield that encompasses a variety of questions and levels of analysis, and a correspondingly diverse set of methodological approaches.
  2. This essay surveys FPA’s methodological development from its inception to the present and, in the process, outlines the body of existing methodological practice and identifies opportunities for future progress.

The objective is to provide both an indication of the role that various quantitative and qualitative methods play in the FPA literature and an entryway for contemporary researchers seeking to apply these approaches to future work. Where appropriate, the reader is directed to more specific guides to the intricacies and execution of each method.

For the sake of organizational clarity, this review follows a stylized format roughly based on Neack, Hey, and Haney’s () concept of “generational change” in foreign policy analysis. The section that immediately follows is partially archeological, that is, it surveys methods of events data analysis that were important to the early development of FPA, but in some cases have fallen out of widespread usage.

The second section, which surveys qualitative methods, most closely reflects the current state of the art in the discipline. The third and final section addresses both cutting-edge and underutilized approaches. The unique historical context and intellectual environment of the early 1950s – specifically, the Cold War and the behavioral revolution – crucially shaped the early methodological development of foreign policy analysis.

These origins have proven central to the methodological arc of the sub-discipline. FPA was born of the opportunities presented by the largely atheoretical nature of historically oriented diplomatic analysis and the exclusion of political leadership and decision-making from the prevailing theories espoused by mainline international relations.

Prior to the advent of FPA as a distinct subfield, the study of foreign policy relied on traditional methods and had long been the domain of political historians and diplomatic strategists in the tradition of thinkers such as Thucydides and Machiavelli.

  • Early FPA researchers saw this longstanding tradition as part of their heritage, but, inspired by the methodological imperatives of the behavioral revolution, believed that systematizing the study of foreign policy would lead to progress in the form of generalizable and cumulative findings.
  • Thus, from its inception, FPA was an explicitly theoretical exercise aimed at uncovering the systematic elements of foreign policy interactions, and the methods deployed reflected this.

Simultaneously, in response to the near monopoly of system-level theory in international relations, the pioneers of FPA argued that individual leaders or groups of decision makers are often the primary drivers of outcomes in international interactions (Snyder et al.).

  • Thus, at the very core of FPA’s intellectual identity lies a revisionist methodology (vis-à-vis diplomatic history) applied to a revisionist conception of the basic unit of analysis (vis-à-vis mainline international relations).
  • The strategic environment, specifically the position of the US in the early Cold War, also figured prominently in the early development of FPA methods.

In the face of this protracted geopolitical conflict, American political leaders became unusually involved in the FPA academic endeavor. The promise of concrete conclusions and general enthusiasm for “scientific” approaches to political problems that stemmed from the success of the Manhattan Project led the US government to invest large sums in early FPA efforts.

  • With funding came the expansion of major research centers such as the Rand Corporation and the Brookings Institution that were instrumental to the maturation of FPA as a subfield and methodological approach in international relations.
  • However, the money and attention from the policy community came with strings attached – most notably, an expectation for immediately relevant research.

Over time this requirement became increasingly difficult to reconcile with the relatively high uncertainty surrounding quantitative estimates of foreign policy phenomenon. The first major phase of FPA research that emerged from this crucible is termed “comparative foreign policy.” Proponents of comparative foreign policy argued that controlled comparison of the domestic sources of external conduct across different countries could produce comprehensive theories of foreign policy behavior.

  1. Methodologically speaking, these scholars sought to achieve these ends primarily through quantitative analysis of “events” data, which I describe in detail in the section that follows.
  2. However, this transition to quantitative analysis was, at least in part, a refinement of even earlier attempts to develop a more robust understanding of the foreign-policy decision making process.

Snyder, Bruck, and Sapin’s () classic essay was arguably the first to encourage international relations scholars to reopen the “black box” of the state in order to study the actions of individual leaders. A significant body of early qualitative case study research flowed from this call to arms.

  • To take just two examples, Paige () took a decision making approach to understanding the origins of the Korean War, while Allison () followed along similar lines with his well-known study of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • The decision making school provided a useful groundwork, particularly by identifying the leader as a crucial unit of analysis, a tradition that has persisted in FPA ever since.

However, the developments of the behavioral revolution eventually overtook the primarily qualitative methods of these early FPA scholars. An increasing premium was placed on the generalizability garnered by operationalizing foreign policy interactions numerically and analyzing them quantitatively.

  • This transition gave rise to the comparative foreign policy literature, which maintained an emphasis on decision making and scientific analysis, but moved away from case study analysis in favor of events data.
  • The demand for foreign policy research that was scientific, generalizable, and policy relevant caught nascent foreign policy analysts unprepared.

Where other areas of political science could respond to the challenge presented by the behavioral revolution with numerical data already at their disposal, the traditional fodder for diplomatic analysis – histories, documents, interviews, biographies, and memoirs – were less easily reduced into the sort of data necessary for rigorous, quantitative hypothesis testing.

This reality set foreign policy analysis somewhat behind other areas of political science because it had to overcome two distinct obstacles. First, new data had to be collected that was better suited to statistical analyses. Second, methods had to be developed with which to analyze these data within a behavioral framework.

Among others, Rosenau (; ), McClelland (), and Brecher et al. () took up these early challenges. These early foreign policy analysts sought to develop a quantifiable unit of foreign policy interaction. McClelland conceived of this core unit of analysis as the foreign policy “event,” which is simply a formalized observation of a conflictual or cooperative interaction between states.

McClelland’s intention was to fill the gap between the traditional narrative approach to foreign policy analysis and empirical techniques that relied upon discrete quantifiable data that could be explored in statistical analyses (Schrodt ). In effect, the foreign policy event takes a qualitative observation of foreign policy interaction and reduces it to a numerical or categorical form suited for statistical analysis.

The process of generating events data was and is time-consuming and costly. It is most commonly accomplished through the content analysis of thousands of newspaper reports on the interactions among nations in light of a previously defined set of criteria or codebook.

Each observation uncovered in this way is then assigned some numerical score or a categorical code, which can then be analyzed quantitatively (Schrodt ). This potentially lengthy process requires that the researcher accomplish some or all of the following: identify sources, identify a period of analysis, create or borrow a coding scheme, train coders, generate the data, and check for reliability.

Foreign policy scholars have generated a significant number of important events datasets that remain central to quantitative methods of foreign policy analysis. The best of them are impressive collections offering decades-long periods of analysis, coverage of many countries (if not the entire international system) and standards of intercoder reliability well in excess of 80 percent (Burgess and Lawton ).

The paragraphs that follow describe a subset of the available data. Particular attention is given to projects that were seminal to the methodological development of the field and those that generated datasets still widely used by contemporary scholars. The World Event/Interaction Survey Project began at the University of Southern California under the direction of Charles McClelland as a research project on the characteristics and processes of the international system (McClelland and Hoggard ).

The initial WEIS dataset records the flow of action and response between countries (as well as non-governmental actors such as NATO and the United Nations) captured from a daily content analysis of the New York Times from January 1966 through December 1978,

  1. This reliance on the New York Times produces a well-known bias toward western perspectives, which was acknowledged from the outset by McClelland and his co-authors.
  2. However, they argued that by using a single source they were better able to remove the “noise” surrounding observations.
  3. Furthermore, the inclusion of non-state actors raises important methodological issues with regard to the basic unit of analysis.

This question has taken on increased salience with the rise in concern about terrorist activities by non-state international entities. The basic unit of analysis in the dataset is the interaction, which is simply a verbal or physical exchange between nations ranging from agreements to threats to military force.

Each of these observations is coded to identify the actors, target, date, action category, and arena. The WEIS databank also provides brief qualitative textual descriptions of each event. These narratives provide context, which facilitates the process of identifying and understanding outliers and applying statistical findings back to political reality – both important for successful events analysis.

The initial WEIS effort has been continuously updated and is presently current through 1993 (Tomlinson ). Other projects, such as the Kansas Event Data System, have applied WEIS coding rules to new research. WEIS data has been widely used in the FPA literature, both by McClelland and his students and by outsiders who took advantage of these public domain data to test their own questions.

The applications are diverse, underlining the versatility of well-designed events datasets. Several early examples are noted by Rummel (): Tanter () used these data to understand the dynamics of the two major Berlin crises of the Cold War ( 1948–1949 and 1961 ); Kegley et al. () explored patterns of international conflict and cooperation; while many others began the ongoing process of understanding the relationships among key contextual variables such as relative development, size, and political system, on international conflict, cooperation, and systemic stability (Rosenau ).

Applications continue to this day. For example, Reuveny and Kang () utilized WEIS data in their exploration of causality in the relationship between international trade and conflict. The COPDAB project was designed by Azar and colleagues (Azar ; ; Azar et al.) as a longitudinal dataset of international and domestic events developed through content analysis of daily newspapers.

In an advance over WEIS methods, COPDAB data is drawn from a wide variety of international and regional media outlets, thereby avoiding some potential bias issues. COPDAB coders scored each event on a 16-point ordinal scale ranging from cooperative interactions to full-scale violence. The resulting dataset covers the interactions of 135 countries from 1948 to 1978 and can be analyzed at levels of aggregation ranging from the day to the year.

Each record includes nine variables: date of event, actor initiating the event, target of the event, issue area(s), contextual information about the incident, and the source of the information about the event. The COPDAB dataset is particularly useful for those interested in the interactions between interstate and civil conflict and cooperation, as complementary datasets exist for both international and domestic events.

While the WEIS and COPDAB datasets are clearly conceptually related, scholars have disagreed about their compatibility (Howell ; Vincent ; Goldstein and Freeman ). The underlying definitions of conflict and cooperation are quite similar; however, coding differences introduce the potential for inconsistencies.

Reuveny and Kang () explore this issue in detail with a series of statistical tests and time-series analyses. They argue that COPDAB and WEIS are indeed compatible for the overlapping period between 1966 and 1978, Building on this logic, they combine the WEIS and COPDAB series to create a larger events dataset covering the period from 1948 to 1993 that is potentially useful for scholars interested in working with a longer period of analysis.

Although the final two projects outlined here (the International Crisis Behavior project and the Correlates of War project) are often excluded from discussions of foreign policy analysis, they are clearly a continuation of events research and are among the most frequently updated and widely used events datasets.

The distinctive feature of the ICB and COW datasets is that they primarily focus on international conflict and therefore lack the range of conflictual and cooperative events that characterize the data projects discussed to this point. Researchers should note, however, that the ICB project does provide some indirect data on cooperation.

Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld launched the International Crisis Behavior project in 1975 with the goal of creating a comparative resource for those studying the concept of “international crisis.” There are two defining conditions for a crisis, which are built on work done by Azar (of the COPDAB project): “(1) a change in type and/or an increase in intensity of disruptive, that is, hostile verbal or physical, interactions between two or more states, with a heightened probability of military hostilities; that, in turn, (2) destabilizes their relationship and challenges the structure of an international system – global, dominant, or subsystem” (Brecher and Ben-Yehuda ).

The ICB project is congruent with many of the core concepts in FPA – for example, in the operationalization of key elements of decision maker perception. This is perhaps unsurprising, as many of the ICB’s primary researchers are steeped in the FPA tradition.

To take one example, Michael Brecher’s () book on Israeli foreign policy decisions, which pre-dates his work on the ICB project, is often cited as a seminal contribution to FPA that seeks to characterize a nation’s psychological and cultural environment as an access point to an understanding of its foreign policy.

As of January 2009, the core systemic dataset that results from this definition codes 452 incidents from the end of World War I through 2006 (version 9.0). Each crisis is coded for a number of variables, ranging from characterizations of decision maker perception to operationalizations of structural and environmental factors as well as crisis characteristics and outcomes.

  1. The ICB project is unusual in that it proceeds simultaneously at multiple complementary levels.
  2. There are independent actor and system level datasets that allow the researcher to explore distinctions between systemic and national level explanations for crisis emergence and behavior.
  3. In addition, the project provides qualitative data in the form of a brief narrative description of each crisis, 9 in-depth volumes comprising 15 in-depth case studies; and 14 other unpublished studies.

These serve as an aid to the researcher interested in adding additional nuance to statistical findings generated from quantitative analysis. Like the ICB project, the COW project does not attempt to capture multiple tiers of conflict and cooperation, but rather focuses on conflict.

Two definitions were developed by the COW project in the 1980s, namely, a “militarized interstate dispute” (MID), and a “militarized interstate crisis” (MIC). The former is defined as: ” set of interactions between or among states involving threats to use military force, displays of military force, or actual uses of military force these acts must be explicit, overt, non-accidental, and government sanctioned” (Gochman and Maoz ).

This “evolves into a militarized interstate crisis when a member of the interstate system on each side of the dispute indicates by its actions its willingness to go to war to defend its interests or to obtain its objectives.” These are steps two and three along a four-step ladder of growing belligerence, beginning with an “interstate dispute” and culminating in an “interstate war” (Leng and Singer ).

The majority of scholars currently working with COW events data use the MID dataset. The current version of the dataset contains 2331 militarized disputes from 1816 to 2001 coded for duration, outcome, and level of fatality. In addition, there are several complementary datasets on various metrics of international interaction (ranging from alliance to power to geography) that are associated with the broader COW project and can be easily mapped onto the MID dataset.

This body of quantitative data is perhaps the most widely used at the present time – particularly among scholars interested in conflict. An important strand of the behavioral work of the 1970s and 1980s addressed the relationship between trade dependence and foreign policy compliance.

While this was far from the only research question to draw on quantitative data, the methodological challenges that confronted it were representative of those faced by quantitative FPA in general and are therefore worthy of some attention. Several scholars working in this area (e.g., Richardson and Kegley ; Moon ; ) argued that relatively smaller and weaker states adopt the foreign policies of their dominant trading partners.

Thus, economic dependence severely constrains the independent decision making of leaders in states that are economically reliant on larger patrons. However, consensus on this conclusion was elusive, in large part because of how difficult it is to measure the two key concepts – dependence and compliance.

  1. The inevitable result was that discussion of the relationship became bogged down in issues of definition and operationalization.
  2. This is symptomatic of a larger issue in the quantitative study of foreign policy.
  3. Because the operationalization of the amorphous concepts in foreign policy necessitates discretion from the researcher, it is easy to critique the underlying assumptions that gave rise to the data, not to mention the model.

Furthermore, if more than one scholar takes on a question in FPA, they typically settle on different operationalizations of the same underlying phenomenon. A high profile example of this trend can be found in the proliferation of events datasets on conflict and cooperation that has already been discussed.

The unfortunate result is that many studies are not comparable or cumulative to the degree we find in the hard sciences. Events data analysis poses a number of methodological challenges that should be taken into account by those analyzing foreign policy. The first of these issues relates to the very core of the events data endeavor – that is, the idea that foreign policy incidents can be reduced to a single quantifiable value.

Despite the best efforts of the designers of the data projects described here, it remains difficult to effectively accomplish a cardinal or even ordinal ranking of disparate foreign policy events. However, many of the statistical approaches widely used in political science require cardinal level data, or at least data spaced at even thresholds.

As a result, those seeking to generate statistical models of events data need to be particularly careful to apply methods that rely upon defensible assumptions about the nature of the underlying data. Researchers should also be aware of methodological issues that may arise from the relative sparseness of positive observations in events data.

The degree to which this is a problem depends on the type of model and the level of aggregation that is used, but if one considers the daily probability of a foreign policy event it is apparent that null observations would dominate the dataset. King and Zeng (; ) demonstrate that bias and inappropriately inflated statistical significance may arise in models of zero-inflated data.

  • This is particularly problematic in instances where these null data contain no real information.
  • There are several potential solutions to this problem should it arise.
  • Tomz, King, and Zeng () suggest a rare events correction for logistic analysis, which they have made available as an addition to the widely used STATA software.

A less sophisticated check for rare events bias is to simply drop a random subset of null observations in order to confirm that findings derived from the remaining sample are consistent with the original result. The non-independence of foreign policy events presents an additional methodological challenge.

Non-independence simply means that positive foreign policy interactions tend to contribute to future positive interactions, while negative events are associated with subsequent negative events. At first appearance this might seem obvious, but this reality undercuts an assumption of independence that underpins most statistical models used in quantitative foreign policy analysis.

Beck, Katz, and Tucker () did much of the work that brought this problem to the attention of the discipline and they suggest a solution that entails generating a natural cubic spline with knots at the first and second derivative. FPA scholars working with events data should also guard against selection bias (sometimes referred to as selection effects) when designing research, as inattention to this methodological challenge can significantly skew findings from both quantitative and qualitative tests.

Selection bias typically arises from pre- or post-sampling that preferentially includes or excludes a particular type of observation from the sample that is subsequently used in testing. This is particularly easy to do when working with data on foreign policy because it is relatively easy to identify events, but difficult to tease out non-events.

The trouble is that without an accurate characterization of non-events it is impossible to say anything about the causes or incidence of the events. To take one prominent recent example of this methodological challenge, Robert Pape’s recent work on the causes of suicide terror () has come under fire for “sampling on the dependent variable” (Ashworth et al.).

  • Because Pape limits his sample to incidents of suicide terror, he effectively leaves out the instances in which such attacks did not occur.
  • As a result, his research design prevents him from effectively speaking of when suicide terror does and does not occur.
  • Beyond issues related to the application of statistical methods to events data, there is an additional conceptual concern regarding the unit of analysis that should command attention from foreign policy researchers.
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Because FPA concerns the foreign policy of states, but sees this policy as emerging from the actions of individuals, traditional units of analysis are blurred. The foreign policy event is the result of the interaction and interplay between leaders, organizations, institutions, and states; however, many of the microfoundational theories that underpin the FPA endeavor are cast at the level of the individual decision maker.

  1. As a result, events analysis brings with it the nascent challenge of explaining how individual actions aggregate to the foreign policy actions of states.
  2. To put the issue more succinctly, while FPA theories distinguish themselves from mainline international relations by opening the black box of the state, the empirical data collected by scholars interested in events analysis typically returned to the state as the central unit of analysis.

There are also very practical concerns to bear in mind – simple tasks related to data manipulation remain some of the primary challenges confronting researchers interested in working with events data. It can be a nontrivial task to gather and combine data on foreign policy events with the various explanatory and control variables that are required for regression analysis.

Researchers confronted with these difficulties should be aware of the EUGene software developed by Scott Bennett and Allan Stam (). EUGene is a basic data management tool that simplifies quantitative analysis of foreign policy interactions. The software offers several advantages. First, it allows for relatively easy transition between commonly used units of analysis – country–year, dyad–year, and directed dyad–year.

Second, the software is capable of easily combining many of the events datasets discussed here with basic demographic and geopolitical data including data uploaded by the user. Finally, there is the issue of collecting new events data. The substantial early investments in projects like WEIS and COPDAB were made at the high point of governmental and institutional enthusiasm for events datasets – both datasets were products of the National Science Foundation’s well funded Data Development for International Research (DDIR) project.

  • However, DDIR funding and government and private support for events data collection projects in general declined markedly by the mid-1990s.
  • While this decline had many causes, it was in part brought on by the difficulties that comparative foreign policy had delivering on its early promise.
  • It proved far more challenging than expected to build policy relevant quantitative models with predictive capacity.

The relative decline in interest on the part of traditional funding sources raises the issue of how new events data might be generated. Computer coding of electronically stored sources, which will be discussed in greater detail later in this essay, has emerged as one way to address this dilemma.

  • The behavioral revolution and Cold War politics proved fertile ground for the emergence of FPA.
  • However, the first major challenge for the young field also stemmed from this dual heritage.
  • The problem was that these divergent intellectual pedigrees gave rise to methodological requirements that were at times mutually exclusive – on the one hand, an imperative from behavioralism for generalizability, and, on the other, a low tolerance for error on the part of Cold Warriors seeking to immediately inform policy with scientific findings.

The emerging recognition of this tension and the seemingly unavoidable high error terms in quantitative models of foreign policy brought an end to the exuberance among academics and the US government for quantitative, events-driven foreign policy research.

Policy makers backed away from direct involvement in the FPA endeavor, while academics tempered their commitment to events data and quantitative methods. What emerged was a second generation of FPA methodology, one that largely abandoned universalized theory-building in favor of historical methods and qualitative analysis (Neack et al.).

The primary weapon in the arsenal of second-generation FPA researchers is the case study. However, this transition should not be viewed as a complete departure from that which came before it. Many of these scholars place particular emphasis on developing case study methodologies driven by social science principles, with the explicit goal of building techniques that provide intellectual rigor comparable to that of quantitative approaches.

The result has been a robust discussion of the role and execution of qualitative methods. It is admittedly artificial to divide methods of foreign policy analysis by “generation,” as this implies clean transitions that are in reality far more blurred. While the concept of generational change is useful for understanding the broad developments in the field, the reader should be aware that there are many exceptions to the general rule.

Alongside second generation case studies were a wide range of quantitative approaches that, while often abandoning the drive toward universalized theory that characterized previous work in comparative foreign policy, stressed both the outputs and the outcomes of foreign policy processes and actions.

Similarly, careful qualitative analysis of foreign-policy decision making has always been an element of foreign policy analysis, and therefore cannot only be considered to have followed sequentially on the quantitative work done in comparative foreign policy (although it did take on renewed prominence).

There is no shortage of examples of the excellent use of case study methodology in foreign policy analysis. Graham Allison’s Essence of Decision () is often cited as a seminal piece of research in this area with an innovative methodological approach. While Allison’s volume is concerned with a single incident – the Cuban missile crisis – the book is not a single case study, but rather three.

Allison explored the US decision making process in the context of three competing explanatory theories: a rational actor model, an organizational process model, and a government politics model. Each of these three explanatory models receives independent analysis in a separate section of the book. Allison (:258) argues that these three models combine to provide a clear understanding of decision making in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis: “Model I fixes the broader context, the larger national patterns, and the shared images.

Within this context, Model II illuminates the organizational routines that produce the information, options, and action. Model III focuses in greater detail on the individuals who constitute a government and the politics and procedures by which their competing perceptions and preferences are combined.” Another important strand of qualitative foreign policy analysis draws on work from political psychology to theoretically inform case study analysis of the foreign policy decision making process.

These efforts began with “operational code analysis,” which involves determining how decision makers’ core beliefs shape their foreign policy reactions (George ; Holsti ). Operational codes include decision makers’ beliefs about the likelihood of violence, their ability to shape or prevent it, as well as leadership strategies and styles.

Robert Axelrod applies a related technique, termed cognitive mapping, to understand the influence of leadership beliefs on foreign policy interactions. Cognitive mapping entails defining a decision maker’s stated goals and then determining the causal linkages between these goals as a way of predicting likely behavior.

  1. Several applications of this technique can be found in an edited volume titled Structure of Decision (Axelrod ).
  2. A more recent application of cognitive mapping can be found in Johnston’s () work on Chinese–American relations.
  3. This early work developed into a substantial body of foreign policy analysis based more broadly on the psychology of decision makers, a method that figures prominently in analyses conducted at the individual level.

Larson () is a leading example of this sort of scholarship. In her book, Origins of Containment, she traces the path of Cold War politics in the context of the cognitive psychology of American policy makers. A great deal of work has been done in recent years to improve and formalize case study methodology.

One such volume, King, Keohane, and Verba’s Designing Social Inquiry (), has been influential (and controversial) enough that it is often referred to simply by the initials of its authors – KKV. King, Keohane, and Verba draw on their diverse methodological backgrounds to argue that the core logic of causal inference and control should apply as much to qualitative work as it does to quantitative research.

They suggest that, by applying the logic of statistics, it is possible to produce theoretically robust and generalizable results while increasing certainty in the validity of qualitative findings. Bennett and George’s () more recent work on case study analysis has also emerged as an important contribution to the development of robust qualitative methods.

  • This book lays out methods for designing case studies that are maximally useful for the formulation of policy, which remains a fundamental goal of foreign policy analysis.
  • Bennett and George suggest greater emphasis on within-case analysis, process tracing, and theory building.
  • While these suggestions differ markedly from those of KKV, the underlying goal is quite similar – to create scientific case studies from which lessons can be systematically drawn.

In this sense, both volumes speak convincingly to the aforementioned tension between nuance and generalizability that plagues methods of foreign policy analysis. This issue of generalizability has developed into the core methodological challenge surrounding case study analysis both in foreign policy analysis and in political science more generally.

While systematic knowledge of foreign policy interactions does not necessarily require the numerical comparability that comes with quantitative research, some degree of generalizability remains important to the independent identity of foreign policy analysis, as it is this forward-looking element that separates the sub-discipline from diplomatic history.

However, comparisons across cases are difficult for two reasons. First, case studies require such a depth of knowledge and investment of time that it is unusual for a scholar to accomplish more than a handful of them on any given question, though there are important exceptions (e.g., Brecher ).

  1. Second, the comparatively loose structure of case studies can hinder comparison, as many analyses fail to address the same subjects on the same terms.
  2. One way that these challenges can be overcome is through collaboration within a consistent framework.
  3. An example of such collaboration can be found in a relatively recent volume edited by Beasley et al.

(). The volume brings together qualitative work from 15 independent researchers systematically exploring the foreign policies of 13 states. Through the coordinating efforts of the editor, the volume maintains a degree of comparability across the cases while drawing on the deep knowledge of the individual contributors.

As a result, the reader is able to engage in comparative analysis within a coherent theoretical framework, allowing for the quick identification of patterns and outliers. There are several examples of similarly structured volumes, and they indicate an important role for collaboration as an approach to boosting the sample sizes of qualitative analyses and thereby the generalizability of findings.

The result is “comparative foreign policy,” but of a qualitative variety. Another interesting solution to the issue of case comparability is found in the qualitative research that has emerged from the qualitative side of the International Crisis Behavior Project, which was already mentioned in the context of events data analysis.

  • These case studies, though they were written over many years and appear in a variety of different outlets, follow a similar format and concern themselves with a consistent set of issues.
  • As a result, they are an explicitly cumulative effort.
  • With each new case study, the body of comparable knowledge increases and this expansion is accompanied by improvement in the robustness of findings.

Those interested in applying case study methodology will need raw material with which to build their analysis. For many questions, considerable ground can be covered using basic library research techniques and secondary sources. However, some of the most fruitful case studies (in terms of their contribution to the existing body of knowledge) bring new information to light.

  • There are several methods of obtaining original qualitative data.
  • The sections that follow will briefly discuss four methods that have become central in foreign policy analysis: archival research, content analysis, interviews, and focus groups.
  • Original source material can be a crucial element of a quality case study.

Typically, scholars uncover such information through archival research. Relevant foreign policy materials are commonly found in the document collections housed in presidential libraries, national archives, and universities. While the basic concept behind archival research is self-explanatory, the actual process of gaining access to collections and navigating their contents can intimidate the neophyte.

There are a number of guides to archival methods that can alleviate such anxiety. Directions for identifying and searching appropriate archival sources as well as tips for navigating the archives themselves can be found in Marc Trachtenberg’s () recent volume on methods – Appendix II will be of particular interest to those seeking to utilize archival methods.

Hill (), Larson (), and Lustick () provide additional detail on the nuances of archival research. Content analysis is a hybrid method that has played a longstanding and important role in quantitative and qualitative foreign policy analysis. The section of this essay on events data already discussed the ways in which content has been used to generate quantitative data for statistical analysis.

For example, some of the earliest approaches to events data generation coded the content of elite communication (Winham ). However, more detailed content analyses have also been used to generate the raw material for case studies or other qualitative analyses. Ole Holsti () was a pioneer of this method, while, more recently, Steve Walker and his students at Arizona State have developed a typology and quantitative content analysis scheme for operational code analysis (Walker et al.).

Those interested in additional detail on the mechanics of content analysis should consult Weber (), Neuendorf (), and West (). Because the role of the individual figures so prominently in foreign policy analysis, interviews can be a particularly valuable method for accessing information about the mechanics of the decision making process.

  • Interviews enable FPA scholars to delve deeply into the idiosyncrasies of the foreign policy process, gleaning deep insights from decision makers and those around them.
  • Over time, FPA scholars have developed a robust set of interview methods designed to enable researchers to maximize the acquisition of information without introducing biases into findings.

There are a number of excellent examples of innovative interview methods in foreign policy analysis, which can serve as models for those interested in interview research. Prime among them are FPA classics such as Yuen Foong Khong’s Analogies at War ().

Based on a series of interviews with senior officials (and archival research), Khong argues that leaders routinely reference the past when making foreign policy decisions and that this cognitive bias can profoundly alter decision making. Schoutlz () does similar interview work in the context of US policy toward Latin America.

More recently, Silber and Little () draw on a series of interviews to uncover the foreign policy interactions at play in the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Berg (), Brenner et al. (), McCracken (), Mishler (), and Seidman () provide useful, in-depth tutorials on interview methods.

Focus group research is a derivative of interview methodology in which the researcher attempts to facilitate an organized discussion among the participants. In foreign policy analysis this typically takes the form of a meeting of experts in a particular foreign policy area, or participants in a prior foreign policy decision.

Focus group methods can be particularly informative because the emerging consensus that comes from such discussions pools the knowledge of the participating individuals and therefore can overcome some of the potential biases of recollection and self-inflation that accompany individual interviews.

However, concerns arise as well, due to some of the very same pathologies that FPA scholars have identified in the context of group decision making. For example, Janis’s () concept of groupthink can take hold in such settings, with focus group members avoiding controversy and settling instead on a comfortable consensus, even if this consensus is out of step with reality.

Along similar lines, the value of elite focus groups can suffer due to deference to higher-ranking participants and domination of the discussion by more talkative individuals who might overshadow important contributions by those less inclined to assert themselves (Krueger ).

Neack, Hey, and Haney’s () concept of generational change, to which this review has adhered thus far, captures only part of the methodological richness of FPA. There have long been methods of foreign policy analysis that fall outside this strict quantitative/qualitative divide, and there has been considerable recent growth in these alternative methods.

Meanwhile, the distinction between quantitative and qualitative approaches to FPA has become increasingly blurred as the relative advantages of each approach have become more widely recognized. These events auger the arrival of a third generation of FPA scholarship that combines innovative quantitative and qualitative methods, thereby bridging the internal contradictions that split the second wave from the first and unifying a variety of methods of foreign policy analysis.

Several methods of foreign policy analysis are available to aspiring third generation foreign policy analysts seeking to move beyond events data and case studies including: computer assisted coding, experiments, simulation, surveys, network analysis, and prediction markets. The sections that follow will briefly introduce each of these methods, though the list is by no means exhaustive.

Computer assisted coding of electronically stored information offers several advantages and represents an important methodological innovation that is likely to play an increasingly significant role in the future of foreign policy analysis. First, machine coding can be more reliable than human coding simply because it removes the possibility of individual error and the resulting questions of intercoder reliability.

Second, machine coding is extremely rapid. Where earlier events datasets were generated over periods of many years, computers can sift through huge quantities of data in minutes. The result is that machine coding greatly reduces the cost of events data generation – effectively bringing control over such data to the masses (Gerner et al.

; Schrodt and Gerner, ). However, the obvious benefits of machine coding are accompanied by two important caveats: the initial programming that creates the coding rules must be accurate, and the raw data must exist in a machine readable format (Gerner et al.).

  • Advocates of human coding often counter that the low cost and speed of machine coding are accomplished at the expense of accuracy and nuance.
  • At present, the best example of a machine coded events project is the Kansas Event Data System (KEDS).
  • This project is among the most active events datasets, due in part to the relatively low cost and speed of generating data in this manner.

KEDS provides a computer program that enables users to specify and create personalized events datasets with a variety of output options. The researchers on the KEDS team use this software to code news reports and generate political event data focusing on the Middle East, the Balkans, and West Africa; however, this approach can be extended to other regions or the international system as a whole.

The machine coding community, including members of the KEDS project, is particularly interested in predictive models built on the unique capacities of this technology (Schrodt, ; ; Gerner et al. ; Schrodt and Gerner ; Shellman ). Machine coding not only partially circumvents the need for large financial investments in events data by reducing the required labor and time, but also has the potential to address some of the concerns about the lack of predictive capacity that caused the decline in external funding in the first place.

Because machine coding concentrates the researcher’s effort on developing decision rules rather than on the coding itself, once underway these programs can generate empirical data in real time. Such models that draw on continuously updated data effectively serve as early warning systems capable of identifying when political phenomena of interest are likely to occur.

  • For example, Shellman and Stewart use machine coding to predict incidents of forced migration, which they applied with some success in Haiti (Shellman and Stewart ).
  • This particular application of events data remains at the cutting edge of the FPA literature and will likely continue to be a productive avenue for future research.

Like all social science, foreign policy analysis struggles methodologically with the issues of control and causality. The quantitative and qualitative methods already discussed took hold in foreign policy analysis in part because the gold standard of the scientific method – experimental control – is typically off limits either for practical or for ethical reasons.

  1. However, with careful attention to design and feasibility, there are applications for experimental methods in the study of foreign policy, and where there are not, researchers have begun to turn their attention to simulation, which can achieve some of the same objectives.
  2. To take one recent example, Christensen and Redd () examine how the context of foreign-policy decision making affects choice and assess this relationship in a controlled experiment conducted on undergraduates.

They find that, at least in this context, the way in which information is presented directly affects the decision maker’s evaluation. In recent years the nuts and bolts of experimental methods have drawn increasing attention. Along these lines, McDermott () provides an interesting discussion of the origins and practice of experimental methods in political science, as well as the unique challenges this approach presents.

One such challenge that should be considered carefully by those designing experiments meant to speak to foreign policy behavior is the trade-off between internal and external validity in experiments. Internal validity indicates that the proposed relationship between the independent and dependent variables is the true causal one.

When such validity is high it means that extraneous variables and alternative explanations have been ruled out. While typically very difficult to achieve in the social sciences, high internal validity results from proper randomization in an experiment.

  • External validity speaks to the degree to which a proposed relationship is generalizable to a broader set of cases or the world at large.
  • Thus, experimental methods are powerful because they are high in internal validity; however, a leap occurs when we attempt to generalize experimentally derived results to actual political behavior.

This leap can be particularly worrisome when it is from an experimental finding generated from a non-elite individual – for example, an undergraduate student as was the case in the Christensen and Redd study – to a foreign policy decision maker. In such cases, the assumption of external validity may not be reasonable.

Mintz, Redd, and Vedlitz () explore this issue in detail, replicating an experiment on the subject of counterterrorism with a group of college student and a group of military officers. The authors find significant differences between these groups, suggesting that experimental subjects cannot be expected to play the role of foreign-policy decision makers without careful regard for their actual background.


However, while these scholars argue that average individuals can tell us very little about the behavior of elites, they do find it more acceptable to use subjects like students as a sample of the public at large. Simulation, a close relative of experimental methods, has its roots in the longstanding practices of war gaming and diplomatic analysis.

However, recent efforts in this area draw extensively on advances in computing power and the internet. Research in this area builds on early work by the Inter-Nation Simulation (INS) project (Guetzkow et al.), and slightly later efforts by Hermann () and Alker and Brunner (). The International Communication and Negotiation Simulations (ICONS) project is an ongoing extension of this early work that allows political practitioners and students to develop decision making and foreign policy skills through computer aided interactive simulation.

Jonathan Wilkenfeld and Richard Brecht developed ICONS in the 1980s, building on Noël’s () early POLIS simulations. As presently formulated, the ICONS project is more about training than research, but the technique presents an intriguing methodological opportunity for those interested in testing theories of foreign policy interactions in a controlled environment.

  1. When it is focused at the elite level, as it often is, survey research in foreign policy analysis directly relates to the previously discussed interview methods.
  2. This stands in some contrast to the way in which survey research is conducted in other areas of political science.
  3. For example, in American politics there is a long tradition of survey research designed to pinpoint public opinion on a myriad of topics.

In order to accomplish this, researchers are obliged to reach as representative a sample of the population as possible. In contrast, FPA’s focus on elite perception and behavior as a determinant of foreign policy leads to the wider usage of elite interviews.

  1. While surveys lack the depth of an interview, they offer the corresponding advantage of breadth.
  2. First, by aggregating information from a more significant number of sources, a survey can minimize some of the idiosyncratic error that can plague interview methodology.
  3. Second, in a survey analysis it is easier to control for secondary variables that might influence the recollection or reporting of subjects.

Finally, surveys can both contribute to qualitative analysis, and serve to generate high-quality data for aggregate analysis. Holsti and Rosenau’s (; ) work on post-Vietnam attitudes is an excellent example of what can be accomplished in foreign policy analysis with elite surveys.

Holsti and Rosenau were interested in the degree to which historical experience altered the perceptions and beliefs of opinion leaders and decision makers. Their expectation was that the Vietnam conflict significantly altered the perspective of those who drew their primary experience from that conflict rather than World War II.

To answer this question they extensively surveyed groups that they believed to comprise the national leadership structure – military personnel, foreign service officers, business executives, labor leaders, clergy, media, etc. – and found significant differences between occupations and within generations.

  1. Surveys can be particularly valuable when conducted repeatedly over several years, as this allows for longitudinal analysis – something that is crucial if one is interested in changes over time.
  2. Both the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conduct quadrennial surveys of government, academic, military, religious, and scientific “influentials” in order to measure the content of and changes in elite opinion.

These surveys, and others that could be conducted along similar lines, are an underutilized resource for foreign policy analysis. Presser et al. () and Rea and Parker () are useful resources for those seeking additional detail on the mechanics of survey research and questionnaire design.

FPA scholars can also benefit from the recent explosion of interest among political scientists in network analysis. Social network analysis, which is simply the mapping and measuring of relationships among entities in a complex system, is a useful tool for modeling foreign policy relationships because it incorporates both bilateral connections and wider connections among the larger group.

Because of this, the technique analysis allows FPA scholars to understand relational data – the contacts, ties, connections, and transfers between decision makers that cannot be cleanly reduced to properties of the leaders themselves (Scott ). Furthermore, a network theoretic framework consistently captures the role of third parties in foreign policy interactions, which prove to be crucial to understanding outcomes.

Relational approaches have long been an underlying element in the study of foreign policy. For example, Anne-Marie Slaughter () writes on the relationship between elite networks and international conflict. However, quantitative social network analysis first began to make significant inroads into political science in the 1990s primarily through the study of “policy networks” (Marin and Mayntz ; Marsh and Rhodes ), though there are earlier, pioneering examples (e.g., Eulau and Siegel ; Tichy et al.).

These studies, as well as later work in international relations (e.g., (Hammarström and Birger ; Wilkinson ; Montgomery ; Heffner-Burton and Montgomery ; Maoz ; Ward ), provide models for future work with foreign policy networks. In short, relational thinking and social network analysis have already contributed to the clarification of a number of puzzles in political science and present a potentially powerful way of approaching foreign policy analysis.

  • Prediction markets are information exchanges built to generate forecasts using a price mechanism.
  • Futures generated from predictions of upcoming events are traded, such that their value is tied to a particular outcome.
  • The result of this arrangement is that the market prices of these futures can be interpreted as the predicted probability of that outcome.

There is a significant body of research that establishes the ability of markets to reduce error in predictions. By aggregating the bets of many individuals, these markets effectively use the price setting mechanism to uncover the consensus about a future foreign policy event in much the same way that the stock market predicts the economic performance of a company or oil futures respond to the expected scarcity of that resource.

  • Pennock et al.
  • Demonstrate that in many cases prediction markets systematically outperform the estimates of even the best individual analysts.
  • There are only a few examples of longstanding prediction markets that handle political futures.
  • These include Intrade, which floats, among many other things, a diverse group of political contracts, and the longer running Iowa Electronic Market, which is an academically oriented project designed for evaluating the probability of election outcomes.

Prediction markets have been applied sparingly in international relations and foreign policy analysis, but have tremendous potential for future application because they offer an interactive mechanism with which individual foreign policy experts can aggregate their knowledge and opinions.

Interestingly, given the methodological diversity that characterizes FPA as a sub-discipline, the method by which each expert who trades futures on a prediction market reaches his or her own conclusion is irrelevant. Thus, a prediction market can provide an alternative way to combine and generalize both deep qualitative knowledge and quantitative findings.

Furthermore, this approach presents a novel way of dealing with error and uncertainty. Prospective researchers in this area should note that some early applications of this approach have not gone smoothly. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently abandoned a promising plan to use a futures market to forecast the probability of important foreign policy events such as regime change and terrorist attacks when the media picked up on the program and it became controversial.

  • Despite a robust literature on the efficacy of such markets, politicians and segments of the public seized upon the effort as being unethical or even nonsensical (Looney ).
  • The unwanted attention led DARPA, which usually operates well beneath the public radar, to cancel the project almost immediately.

It remains an open question whether this approach will become more politically feasible – seemingly a necessity because these markets generally require a significant initial investment, presumably by a government or university. However, private markets such as Intrade, which is a for-profit enterprise, seem to be a plausible alternative.

Foreign policy futures, such as the probability of an Israeli attack on Iran, are traded regularly on Intrade and provide useful information about expectations. Moreover, futures on the outcome of the last presidential election vied with polling data for public and media attention in the lead up to the 2008 US presidential election suggesting that familiarity with these markets may be rising.

Methods of foreign policy analysis have developed markedly over the past few decades, but challenges remain. An unavoidable tension persists between the accuracy needed for policy relevance and the scope needed for generalizability. As the grand theories of foreign policy interaction motivated those who launched the FPA enterprise proved elusive, the discipline increasingly turned to the nuanced examinations of cases.

  1. However, if taken too far this trend is a threat to the unique identity of FPA because it blurs the distinction with longstanding traditions of historical analysis.
  2. This survey of available methods suggests that a partial solution to this dilemma lies in bringing quantitative analysis and underutilized “third generation” methods back into the FPA fold by reintegrating them into the well-developed qualitative tradition.

The goal should be to develop a healthy mix of methods that applies each approach to the questions which each is best equipped to address. Additional attention should also be given to determining the degree to which current methods of foreign policy analysis allow predictive or prescriptive conclusions.

In recent years, enthusiasm for FPA has been fueled in part by the failure of most international relations scholarship to accurately foresee key events in the international system – specifically the decline of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The argument is made that Cold War politics, because they were in some sense stable or at equilibrium, were better suited to elegant and parsimonious models of the systemic behavior of state actors.

In contrast, the more chaotic world we presently inhabit is characterized by fluidity driven by human agents and therefore is best understood using the methods of foreign policy analysis (Hudson and Vore ). This is a reasonable hypothesis; however, prediction is a difficult game in the social sciences and it remains unclear whether FPA is indeed superior in this arena.

  1. In short, with a few notable exceptions such as the KEDS project, methods of foreign policy analysis lack predictive capacity and, when they are able to predict, are often unable to clearly state the degree of certainty surrounding these forecasts.
  2. More can and should be done to improve this capacity.

Foreign policy analysts should also give deeper consideration to the issues that accompany the choice of the unit of analysis in their models. FPA derives much of its explanatory power from its ability to speak to the individual’s role in the foreign policy process, but the dependent variables that these efforts attempt to explain are often the interactions between states.

  1. The result is a gap in our understanding of the process of aggregation by which the behavior of leaders results in the actions and reactions of states.
  2. This aggregation problem is widely noted, but additional work is required to complete our understanding of this element of the foreign policy process.

Improvements in this linkage between theory and test, as well as a consistent unit of analysis (individual or foreign policy event) are particularly crucial for robust quantitative analysis, as it is in part the inability of the subfield to resolve this basic issue that stifled earlier research on events data.

  1. Finally, more must be done to reengage foreign policy analysis with the core of international relations research.
  2. FPA scholars typically claim the first and second image as their domain, but fail to engage with those in mainline international relations who also work in this area.
  3. In the lead essay of the first issue of Foreign Policy Analysis, Valerie Hudson () convincingly makes the case that FPA has the potential to reshape the entire discipline of international relations by focusing attention on the workings of the fundamental unit of analysis – the political decision maker.

However, despite the call to arms, more often than not FPA scholars labor in relative isolation. Some of these divisions emerge from methodological issues and can therefore be resolved. In sum, the future of foreign policy analysis appears to be bright.

There is reason to believe that longstanding methodological battles that characterized it are drawing to a close with the recognition that multiple methods have their place in the study of foreign policy. In addition, new methods and questions are emerging that are likely to contribute to our understanding of the foreign policy process.

: Methods of Foreign Policy Analysis