Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Network Dynamics and the Evolution of International Cooperation


Cooperation helps states realize mutual gains, but mistrust and disagreements over institutional design inhibit cooperation. This article develops a network explanation for how states achieve cooperation in the face of persistent coordination and collaboration problems. The analysis focuses on bilateral cooperation agreements, a vast body of treaties spanning multiple issue areas. Bilateral agreements constitute an evolving network of cooperative ties. This network defines the strategic environment in which states bargain over new agreements, endogenously influencing subsequent bilateral endeavors by revealing strategically valuable information about states’ trustworthiness and preferences over institutional design, while also generating externalities that incentivize bilateral partnerships. Inferential network analysis shows that states are more likely to create bilateral agreements if they (1) share agreements with common third parties, (2) accede to more agreements in general, and/or (3) share important exogenous characteristics with current bilateral partners. These network dynamics drive bilateral cooperation in everything from commodities to cultural exchange to fisheries.

Corresponding author
Brandon J Kinne is Assistant Professor of Political Science, School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, 800 West Campbell Road, GR31 Richardson, TX 75080 (
Hide All
Abbott Kenneth W., and Snidal Duncan. 2000. “Hard and Soft Law in International Governance.” International Organization 54 (3): 421–56.
Axelrod Robert. 1984. The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books.
Bagwell Kyle, and Staiger Robert W.. 1997. “Multilateral Tariff Cooperation During the Formation of Customs Unions.” Journal of International Economics 42 (1–2): 91123.
Bala Venkatesh, and Goyal Sanjeev. 2000. “A Noncooperative Model of Network Formation.” Econometrica 68 (5): 1181–229.
Barabási Albert-László, and Albert Réka. 1999. “Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks.” Science 286 (5439): 509–12.
Barbieri Katherine, and Keshk Omar M. G.. 2012. “Correlates of War Project Trade Data Set Codebook, Version 3.0.” Available at
Bommarito Michael, Katz Daniel Martin, and Poast Paul. 2012. “World Treaty Index: An Electronic Treaty Database Spanning the 20th Century.” Available at
Brandes Ulrik, Indlekofer Natalie, and Mader Martin. 2012. “Visualization Methods for Longitudinal Social Networks and Stochastic Actor-Oriented Modeling.” Social Networks 34 (3): 291308.
Bu Liping. 1999. “Educational Exchange and Cultural Diplomacy in the Cold War.” Journal of American Studies 33 (3): 393415.
Burt Ronald S. 1992. Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Cao Xun. 2009. “Networks of Intergovernmental Organizations and Convergence in Domestic Economic Policies.” International Studies Quarterly 53 (4): 1095–130.
Cha Victor D. 1999. Alignment Despite Antagonism: The United States-Korea-Japan Security Triangle. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Chayes Abram, and Chayes Antonia Handler. 1996. The New Sovereignty: Compliance with International Regulatory Agreements. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Chen Maggie Xiaoyang, and Joshi Sumit. 2010. “Third-Country Effects on the Formation of Free Trade Agreements.” Journal of International Economics 82 (2): 238–48.
Correlates of War Project. 2006. “Direct Contiguity Data, 1816-2006, Version 3.1.” Available at (Accessed March 6, 2012).
Cranmer Skyler J., and Desmarais Bruce A.. 2011. “Inferential Network Analysis with Exponential Random Graph Models.” Political Analysis 19 (1): 6686.
Cranmer Skyler J., Desmarais Bruce A., and Menninga Elizabeth J.. 2012. “Complex Dependencies in the Alliance Network.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 29 (3): 279313.
Dai Xinyuan, and Snidal Duncan. 2010. “International Cooperation Theory.” In The International Studies Encyclopedia, ed. Denemark Robert A.. Blackwell Reference Online: Blackwell.
Davis Christina L. 2004. “International Institutions and Issue Linkage: Building Support for Agricultural Trade Liberalization.” American Political Science Review 98 (1): 153–69.
Desmarais Bruce A., and Cranmer Skyler J.. 2012. “Micro-Level Interpretation of Exponential Random Graph Models with Application to Estuary Networks.” Policy Studies Journal 40 (3): 402–34.
Deutsch Karl W., Burrell Sidney A., Kann Robert A., Lee Maurice, Lichterman MartinJr, Lindgren Raymond E., Loewenheim Francis L., and Van Wagenen Richard W.. 1957. Political Community and the North Atlantic Area: International Organization in the Light of Historical Experience. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Downs George W., Rocke David M., and Barsoom Peter N.. 1996. “Is the Good News About Compliance Good News About Cooperation?International Organization 50 (03): 379406.
Egger Peter, and Larch Mario. 2008. “Interdependent Preferential Trade Agreement Memberships: An Empirical Analysis.” Journal of International Economics 76 (2): 384–99.
Elkins Zachary, Guzman Andrew T., and Simmons Beth A.. 2006. “Competing for Capital: The Diffusion of Bilateral Investment Treaties, 1960–2000.” International Organization 60 (4): 811–46.
Fearon James D. 1998. “Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation.” International Organization 52 (2): 269305.
Feinberg Richard E. 2003. “The Political Economy of United States Free Trade Arrangements.” The World Economy 26 (7): 1019–40.
Franzese Robert J. Jr, and Hays Jude C.. 2007. “Spatial Econometric Models of Cross-Sectional Interdependence in Political Science Panel and Time-Series-Cross-Section Data.” Political Analysis 15 (2): 140–64.
Garriga Ana Carolina. 2009. “Regime Type and Bilateral Treaty Formalization: Do Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup?Journal of Conflict Resolution 53 (5): 698726.
Gleditsch Kristian Skrede. 2002. “Expanded Trade and GDP Data.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (5): 712–24.
Gleditsch Kristian Skrede, and Ward Michael D.. 2001. “Measuring Space: A Minimum-Distance Database and Applications to International Studies.” Journal of Peace Research 38 (6): 749–68.
Gleditsch Kristian Skrede, and Ward Michael D.. 2006. “Diffusion and the International Context of Democratization.” International Organization 60 (4): 911–33.
Gould-Davies Nigel. 2003. “The Logic of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy.” Diplomatic History 27 (2): 193214.
Granovetter Mark S. 1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78 (6): 1360–80.
Green Michael J. 1999. “Japan-ROK Security Relations: An American Perspective.” In America's Alliances with Japan and Korea in a Changing Northeast Asia. The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.
Greene William H. 2003. Econometric Analysis. 5th ed.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Greenhill Brian, Ward Michael D., and Sacks Audrey. 2011. “The Separation Plot: A New Visual Method for Evaluating the Fit of Binary Models.” American Journal of Political Science 55 (4): 9911002.
Hafner-Burton Emilie M., and Montgomery Alexander H.. 2006. “Power Positions: International Organizations, Social Networks, and Conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 50 (1): 327.
Hafner-Burton Emilie M., Kahler Miles, and Montgomery Alexander H.. 2009. “Network Analysis for International Relations.” International Organization 63 (3): 559992.
Hays Jude C., Kachi Aya, and Franzese Robert J.Jr. 2010. “A Spatial Model Incorporating Dynamic, Endogenous Network Interdependence: A Political Science Application.” Statistical Methodology 7 (3): 406–28.
Heider Fritz. 1958. The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations. New York: Wiley.
Hixson Walter L. 1997. Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945–1961. New York: St. Martin's.
Hoff Peter D., and Ward Michael D.. 2004. “Modeling Dependencies in International Relations Networks.” Political Analysis 12 (2): 160–75.
Holland Paul W., and Leinhardt Samuel. 1971. “Transitivity in Structural Models of Small Groups.” Comparative Group Studies 2 (2): 107–24.
Kang Joon-Suk. 2003. “The United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea and Fishery Relations Between Korea, Japan and China.” Marine Policy 27 (2): 111–24.
Keohane Robert O. 1984. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Keohane Robert O., and Nye Joseph S.. 1989. Power and Interdependence. 2nd ed.New York: Harper Collins.
Kim Sun Pyo. 2003. “The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and New Fisheries Agreements in North East Asia.” Marine Policy 27 (2): 97109.
Kinne Brandon J. 2014. “Dependent Diplomacy: Signaling, Strategy, and Prestige in the Diplomatic Network.” International Studies Quarterly. Forthcoming. DOI: 10.1111/isqu.12047.
Klemm Konstantin, and Eguiluz Victor M.. 2002. “Highly Clustered Scale-Free Networks.” Physical Review E 65 (3): 036123.
Koremenos Barbara, Lipson Charles, and Snidal Duncan. 2001. “The Rational Design of International Institutions.” International Organization 55 (4): 761800.
Koskinen Johan, and Edling Christofer. 2012. “Modelling the Evolution of a Bipartite Network: Peer Referral in Interlocking Directorates.” Social Networks 34 (3): 309–22.
Kossinets Gueorgi. 2006. “Effects of Missing Data in Social Networks.” Social Networks 28 (3): 247–68.
Kydd Andrew H. 2005. Trust and Mistrust in International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Lake David A., and Powell Robert. 1999. Strategic Choice and International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Leeds Brett Ashley, Ritter Jeffrey M., Mitchell Sarah M., and Long Andrew G.. 2002. “Alliance Treaty Obligations and Provisions, 1815–1944.” International Interactions 28 (3): 237–60.
Lipson Charles. 1984. “International Cooperation in Economic and Security Affairs.” World Politics 37 (1): 123.
London Richard. 1997. Survival Models and their Estimation. Winsted, CT: ACTEX.
Long J. Scott. 1997. Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Manger Mark S., Pickup Mark A., and Snijders Tom A. B.. 2012. “A Hierarchy of Preferences: A Longitudinal Network Analysis Approach to PTA Formation.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 56 (5): 853–78.
Mansfield Edward D., Milner Helen V., and Rosendorff B. Peter. 2002. “Why Democracies Cooperate More: Electoral Control and International Trade Agreements.” International Organization 56 (3): 477513.
Maoz Zeev. 2012. “Preferential Attachment, Homophily, and the Structure of International Networks, 1816–2003.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 29 (3): 341–69.
Maoz Zeev, Terris Lesley G., Kuperman Ranan D., and Talmud Ilan. 2007. “What Is the Enemy of My Enemy? Causes and Consequences of Imbalanced International Relations, 1816–2001.” Journal of Politics 69 (1): 100–15.
Marshall Monty G., and Jaggers Keith. 2002. “Polity IV project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800–2002.” Available at (Accessed December 21, 2012).
Martin Lisa L. 1992. “Interests, Power, and Multilateralism.” International Organization 46 (4): 765–92.
Martin Lisa L., and Simmons Beth A.. 1998. “Theories and Empirical Studies of International Institutions.” International Organization 52 (04): 729–57.
McPherson Miller, Smith-Lovin Lynn, and Cook James M.. 2001. “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks.” Annual Review of Sociology 27: 415–44.
Mitchell Ronald B. 2003. “International Environmental Agreements: A Survey of their Features, Formation, and Effects.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 28 (1): 429–61.
Morrow James D. 1994. “Modeling the Forms of International Cooperation: Distribution versus Information.” International Organization 48 (3): 387423.
Neumayer Eric, and Plümper Thomas. 2010. “Spatial Effects in Dyadic Data.” International Organization 64 (01): 145–66.
Newman Mark E. J. 2003 a. “Mixing Patterns in Networks.” Physical Review E 67 (2): 026126.
Newman Mark E. J. 2003 b. “The Structure and Function of Complex Networks.” SIAM Review 45 (2): 167256.
Oye Kenneth A. 1985. “Explaining Cooperation Under Anarchy: Hypotheses and Strategies.” World Politics 38 (1): 124.
Pevehouse Jon C., Nordstrom Timothy, and Warnke Kevin. 2004. “The Correlates of War 2 International Governmental Organizations Data Version 2.0.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 21 (2): 101–19.
Ravasz Erzsébet, and Barabási Albert-László. 2003. “Hierarchical Organization in Complex Networks.” Physical Review E 67 (2): 026112.
Richmond Yale. 2003. Cultural Exchange & the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Ripley Ruth M., Snijders Tom A. B., and Preciado Paulina. 2012. “Manual for RSiena.” Available at University of Oxford, Department of Statistics, Nuffield College.
Robins Garry, Pattison Pip, Kalish Yuval, and Lusher Dean. 2007. “An Introduction to Exponential Random Graph (p*) Models for Social Networks.” Social Networks 29 (2): 173–91.
Rohn Peter. 1984. World Treaty Index. 2nd ed.Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Information Services.
Saul Zachary M., and Filkov Vladimir. 2007. “Exploring Biological Network Structure Using Exponential Random Graph Models.” Bioinformatics 23 (19): 2604–11.
Signorino Curtis S. 1999. “Strategic Interaction and the Statistical Analysis of International Conflict.” American Political Science Review 93 (2): 279–97.
Simmons Beth A., and Danner Allison. 2010. “Credible Commitments and the International Criminal Court.” International Organization 64 (2): 225–56.
Singer J. David. 1987. “Reconstructing the Correlates of War Dataset on Material Capabilities of States, 1916-1985.” International Interactions 14 (2): 115–32.
Snidal Duncan. 1985. “Coordination versus Prisoners’ Dilemma: Implications for International Cooperation and Regimes.” The American Political Science Review 79 (4): 923–42.
Snijders Tom A. B. 2001. “The Statistical Evaluation of Social Network Dynamics.” Sociological Methodology 31: 361–95.
Snijders Tom A. B. 2005. “Models for Longitudinal Network Data.” In Models and Methods in Social Network Analysis, ed. Carrington Peter J., Scott John, and Wasserman Stanley. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 215247.
Snijders Tom A. B., van de Bunt Gerhard G., and Steglich Christian E. G.. 2010. “Introduction to Stochastic Actor-Based Models for Network Dynamics.” Social Networks 32 (1): 4460.
Stein Arthur A. 1982. “Coordination and Collaboration: Regimes in an Anarchic World.” International Organization 36 (02): 299324.
Tomz Michael. 2007. Reputation and International Cooperation: Sovereign Debt Across Three Centuries. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Waltz Kenneth Neal. 1979. Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Ward Michael D., Siverson Randolph M., and Cao Xun. 2007. “Disputes, Democracies, and Dependencies: A Reexamination of the Kantian Peace.” American Journal of Political Science 51 (3): 583601.
Warren Camber. 2010. “The Geometry of Security: Modeling Interstate Alliances as Evolving Networks.” Journal of Peace Research 47 (6): 697709.
Wasserman Stanley, and Faust Katherine. 1994. Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Watts Duncan J. 1999. “Networks, Dynamics, and the Small-World Phenomenon.” American Journal of Sociology 105 (2): 493527.
Watts Duncan J., and Strogatz Steven H.. 1998. “Collective Dynamics of ‘Small-World’ Networks.” Nature (London) 393: 440–2.
Weintraub Sidney. 2004. “Lessons from the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements.” In Free Trade Agreements: US Strategies and Priorities, ed. Schott Jeffrey J.. Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics, pp. 7992.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Kinne Supplementary Material
Supplementary Materials

 PDF (429 KB)
429 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 15
Total number of PDF views: 264 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1004 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.