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Political leadership and regime formation: on the development of institutions in international society

  • Oran R. Young (a1)

Leadership plays a critical but poorly understood role in determining the success or failure of the processes of institutional bargaining that dominate efforts to form international regimes or, more generally, institutional arrangements in international society. An examination of the nature of institutional bargaining serves as a springboard both for pinpointing the role of leadership in regime formation and for differentiating three forms of leadership that regularly come into play in efforts to establish international institutions: structural leadership, entrepreneurial leadership, and intellectual leadership. Because much of the real work of regime formation occurs in the interplay of different types of leadership, the study of interactions among individual leaders is a high priority for those seeking to illuminate the processes involved in the creation of international institutions. Not only does such a study help to explain the conditions under which regimes form or fail to form, but it also provides an opportunity to bring the individual back in to an important area of international affairs.

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This article originated in a presentation prepared for the 1989 annual meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System. It evolved during 1990 into a paper delivered at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association and a presentation developed for a joint Harvard/MIT seminar on international institutions. For constructive comments and advice, I am indebted to several anonymous reviewers as well as to Stephen Krasner, Gail Osherenko, and the members of the research team that has worked over the last two years on a project funded by the Ford Foundation and entitled “International Cooperation in the Arctic: The Politics of Regime Formation.”

1. On the concept of a constitutional contract, see Buchanan James M., The Limits of Liberty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), especially chap. 5.

2. For analyses of these framework agreements, which stress the role of social order in the international system, see Bull Hedley, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977); and Clark Ian, The Hierarchy of States: Reform and Resistance in the International Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

3. Haas Peter M., Saving the Mediterranean: The Politics of International Environmental Cooperation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).

4. For an extended discussion of institutional bargaining, see Young Oran R., “The Politics of International Regime Formation: Managing Natural Resources and the Environment,” International Organization 43 (Summer 1989), pp. 349–75.

5. On processes of prenegotiation at the international level, see Stein Janice Gross, ed., Getting to the Table: The Processes of International Prenegotiation (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).

6. Walton Richard and McKersie Robert B., A Behavioral Theory of Negotiations (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), chaps. 2–5.

7. Unlike the Rawlsian veil of ignorance, which stipulates that individual participants do not know their roles in society, the veil of uncertainty arises from factors that make it difficult for individuals to predict how specific institutional arrangements will affect their interests over time. See Brennan Geoffrey and Buchanan James M., The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 2831.

8. Ibid., p. 30.

9. Raiffa Howard, The Art and Science of Negotiation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), especially pp. 211–17.

10. See Sebenius James K., “Negotiation Arithmetic: Adding and Subtracting Issues and Parties,” International Organization 37 (Spring 1983), pp. 281316. See also Stein, Getting to the Table.

11. For a sophisticated treatment of this subject, drawing on experience with the law of the sea and the ozone depletion negotiations, see Sebenius James K., “Negotiating a Regime to Control Global Warming,” working paper, Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Mass., 09 1990.

12. Putnam Robert D., “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games,” International Organization 42 (Summer 1988), pp. 427–60.

13. The discussion to follow places primary emphasis on factors that determine whether or not institutional bargaining succeeds in the sense that it results in a mutually acceptable constitutional contract. Two other concerns, however, are relevant to this treatment of the role of leadership. Leaders often influence the timing of the move toward closure on the terms of a constitutional contract. Similarly, leadership is a significant factor in accounting for the substantive content of the provisions incorporated into international regimes.

14. Kindleberger Charles P., The International Economic Order (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988), chap. 14.

15. The quotation is from Keohane Robert O., After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984), p. 32. Note that this discussion focuses exclusively on hegemony in the structural sense, in contrast to hegemony in the cognitive or Gramscian sense.

16. For an important discussion of the extent to which power is fungible and therefore applicable across issue-areas or is issue-specific, see Baldwin David A., Paradoxes of Power (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1989), especially chap. 2.

17. For an early but excellent discussion, see Snidal Duncan, “The Limits of Hegemonic Stability Theory,” International Organization 39 (Autumn 1985), pp. 579614. For a more recent discussion, see Grunberg Isabelle, “Exploring the ‘Myth’ of Hegemonic Stability,” International Organization 44 (Autumn 1990), pp. 431–77.

18. See Kindleberger Charles P., The World in Depression, 1929–1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973); and Kindleberger, The International Economic Order, chaps. 11 and 14.

19. Kindleberger, The International Economic Order, p. 157.

20. Kindleberger, The World in Depression, especially chap. 14.

21. A fourth type of leadership, recognized by students of domestic politics, is often described as charismatic leadership. The charismatic leader exercises influence through force of personality and seeks to impose a vision, often messianic in character, on those who become his or her followers. Whatever the relevance of this phenomenon in other social settings, I can see no evidence that it plays a significant role in institutional bargaining at the international level. For an account of charismatic leaders as spellbinders, see Willner Ann Ruth, The Spellbinders: Charismatic Political Leadership (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984).

22. Kindleberger, The International Economic Order, p. 186.

23. For a seminal account of this type of bargaining power, see Schelling Thomas C., The Strategy of Conflict (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960).

24. While this type of bargaining power may seem counterintuitive at first, it resembles Zeuthen's well-known conception of risk willingness. See Zeuthen Frederik, “Economic Warfare,” in Young Oran R., ed., Bargaining: Formal Theories of Negotiation (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975), pp. 145–63.

25. See Peter M. Haas, “Ozone Alone, No CFCs: Epistemic Communities and the Protection of Stratospheric Ozone,” International Organization, forthcoming. But note that the American success at this juncture was facilitated by the growing impact in Germany of the scientific case against CFCs and the consequent erosion of the earlier common stance of Britain, France, and Germany.

26. For an account that stresses the importance of preventing the emergence of blocking coalitions, see Sebenius, “Negotiating a Regime to Control Global Wanning.”

27. See Sebenius James K., Negotiating the Law of the Sea: Lessons in the Art and Science of Reaching Agreement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984); and Robert L. Friedheim, Negotiating the New Ocean Regime, forthcoming.

28. For a general account of entrepreneurial leadership under such conditions, see Frohlich Norman, Oppenheimer Joe A., and Young Oran R., Political Leadership and Collective Goods (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971).

29. For a survey of these theories, see Young, Bargaining.

30. Kindleberger, The International Economic Order, chaps. 9 and 14.

31. See Roan Sharon L., Ozone Crisis: The 15 Year Evolution of a Sudden Global Emergency (New York: Wiley, 1989); and Abrahamson Dean Edwin, ed., The Challenge of Global Warming (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1989).

32. See also Lang Winfried, “Negotiations on the Environment,” in Kremenyuk Victor, ed., International Negotiation: Analysis, Approaches, Issues (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991), pp. 343–56.

33. Webster Charles, The Congress of Vienna (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966).

34. For a sophisticated account of the complications associated with intraparty bargaining, see Putnam, “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics.”

35. Kindleberger, The World in Depression.

36. There is, of course, a lively debate concerning the extent to which interested parties control the development and dissemination of ideas. In this article, I take the view that the causal relationships are reciprocal. While interested parties strive to control ideas, ideas can and often do operate as an independent force in human affairs.

37. Cooper Richard N., “International Cooperation in Public Health as a Prologue to Macroeconomic Cooperation,” in Cooper Richard N. et al. , eds., Can Nations Agree? (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1989), pp. 178254.

38. See also Ruggie John G., “International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order,” in Krasner Stephen D., ed., International Regimes (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983), pp. 195231.

39. Gulland J. A., The Management of Marine Fisheries (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1974).

40. Peterson M. J., Managing the Frozen South (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), chap. 5.

41. See World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987).

42. See Ullman Richard H., “Redefining Security,” International Security 8 (Summer 1983), pp. 130–53; and Mathews Jessica Tuchman, “Redefining Security,” Foreign Affairs 68 (Spring 1989), pp. 162–77.

43. See Silver Cheryl Simon and DeFries Ruth S., One Earth, One Future: Our Changing Global Environment (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1990); and DeFries Ruth S. and Malone Thomas F., eds., Global Change and Our Common Future: Papers from a Forum (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989).

44. On factors affecting the role of ideas in regime formation, see Goldstein Judith, “Ideas, Institutions, and Trade Policy,” International Organization 42 (Winter 1988), pp. 179217.

45. For a study of the political influence of Keynesian economics, see Hall Peter A., ed., The Political Power of Economic Ideas: Keynesianism Across Nations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989).

46. Andersen S. and Ostreng W., eds., International Resource Management (London: Belhaven Press, 1989).

47. Raiffa, The Art and Science of Negotiation, especially pp. 69.

48. Axelrod's work, based on an analysis of prisoners' dilemma, suggests that large numbers of actors can develop cooperative practices in the absence of leadership. Whatever the merits of this argument (a matter that is far from settled), however, it deals with spontaneous interactions and not with institutional bargaining. See Axelrod Robert, The Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Basic Books, 1984).

49. Hardin Russell, Collective Action (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).

50. Kindleberger, The World in Depression.

51. Oxman Bernard H., Caron David D., and Buderi Charles L. O., eds., Law of the Sea: U.S. Policy Dilemma (San Francisco: ICS Press, 1983).

52. Kaplan Morton A. and Katzenbach Nicholas, The Political Foundations of International Law (New York: Wiley, 1961), chap. 8.

53. Claude Inis L. Jr, Power and International Relations (New York: Random House, 1962).

54. For a particularly influential case in point, see Waltz Kenneth, Theory of International Relations (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979).

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