july 1 what is the role of international organizations and do they really matter
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July 1: What is the role of international organizations and do they really matter?. Abbot, Kenneth and Duncan Snidal. 1998. Why States Act through Formal Organizations. Journal of Conflict Resolution 42:3-32. Last class take-home point. Analytical tool: Time inconsistent preference problem

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july 1 what is the role of international organizations and do they really matter

July 1: What is the role of international organizations and do they really matter?

Abbot, Kenneth and Duncan Snidal. 1998. Why States Act through Formal Organizations. Journal of Conflict Resolution 42:3-32.

last class take home point
Last class take-home point
  • Analytical tool:
    • Time inconsistent preference problem
    • A.K.A. (also known as):
      • Commitment problem
      • Present bias
dramatic action
Dramatic action
  • United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on Libya
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in North Korea
  • United Nations (UN) peacekeepers in the Middle East
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Bosnia
  • The Uruguay Round the World Trade Organization (WTO) & the dispute settlement mechanism
ongoing action
Ongoing action:
  • Global health policy (the WHO)
  • Development (the World Bank)
  • Monetary policy (the International Monetary Fund)
  • Participation reduces the chances of war among members
  • Participation increases the chances of democracy
various sizes
Various sizes:
  • From:
    • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) - $2 million budget (pays for their annual meeting?)
  • To:
    • European Union (EU) - verging on a sovereign state
    • World Bank - >10,000 employees from 160 countries (2/3 in Washington)
    • IMF (Aug. 2008: $341 billion)
specialized agencies
Specialized agencies:
  • ILO
    • http://www.ilo.org/global/What_we_do/lang--en/index.htm
  • ICAO
    • http://www.icao.int/icao/en/howworks.htm
  • FAO
    • http://www.fao.org/about/about-fao/en/
  • Others:
    • UNEP
      • http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=43
    • EBRD
      • http://www.ebrd.com/about/index.htm
finding research on ios
Finding research on IOs:
  • Google Scholar!!! http://scholar.google.com/
  • ISI Web of Science http://isiknowledge.com/
ios allow for
IOs allow for:
    • A concrete and stable organizational structure and an administrative apparatus managing collective activities
      • May allow for immediate action (UN Security Council)
      • Or for specialization (OECD has >200 working groups)
      • May have flexible design (IMF voting structure) or be rigid (UN Security Council)
    • The ability/authority to act with a degree of autonomy within defined spheres
rational choice perspective
Rational choice perspective:
  • LEADERS found/use IOs when benefits of cooperation outweigh (sovereignty) costs
  • IOs produce collective goods in PD settings & solve coordination problems
  • Coordination problems?
    • E.g., Battle of the sexes game
pd settings
PD settings?
  • Prisoner's dilemma
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED9gaAb2BEw&feature=related
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3Uos2fzIJ0
prisoner s dilemma
Prisoner's Dilemma:
  • A non-cooperative, non-zero-sum game. (Mixed game of cooperation and conflict.)
  • Individual rationality brings about collective irrationality.
  • You're reading Tchaikovsky's music on a train back in the USSR.
  • KGB agents suspect it's secret code.
  • They arrest you & a "friend" they claim is Tchaikovsky.
  • "You better tell us everything. We caught Tchaikovsky, and he's already talking…"
You know that this is ridiculous – they have no case.
  • But they may be able to build a case using your testimony and "Tchaikovsky's."
  • If you "rat" out your "friend" – they will reduce your sentence.
  • If not, they will throw the book at you.
The same situation can occur whenever "collective action" is required.
  • The collective action problem is also called the "n-person prisoner's dilemma."
  • Also called the "free rider problem."
  • "Tragedy of the commons."
  • All have similar logics and a similar result:
    • Individually rational action leads to collectively suboptimal results.
is cooperation ever possible in prisoner s dilemma
Is cooperation ever possible in Prisoner's Dilemma?
  • Yes 
    • In repeated settings
  • Axelrod, Robert M. 1984. The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books.
So, IOs facilitate cooperation by coordinating states on superior equilibria/outcomes
  • And lower the transaction costs of doing so
realist theory
Realist theory
  • States do not cede to supranational institutions the strong enforcement capacities necessary to overcome international anarchy
  • Thus, IOs and similar institutions are of little interest
  • They merely reflect national interests and power and do not constrain powerful states
  • Does realism = rational choice?
  • Realism focuses on state interests - ignores microfoundations (leader incentives, domestic politics)
constructivist theory
Constructivist theory
  • Where to ideas and preferences come from?
  • Focus on norms, beliefs, knowledge, and (shared) understandings
  • IOs are the result of international ideas, and in turn contribute towards shaping the evolution of international ideas
  • Vital for the understanding of major concepts such as legitimacy and norms
abbot snidal
Abbot & Snidal:

States use IOs to…

  • Reduce transaction costs;
  • Create information, ideas, norms, and expectations;
  • Carry out and encourage specific activities;
  • Legitimate or delegitimate particular ideas and practices;
  • Enhance their capacities and power
principal agent framework
Principal-Agent framework
  • IOs are thus "agents"
  • Their (biggest) members are the "principals"
  • Agency slack? 
    • "bureaucratic" perspective
the principal agent problem
The principal-agent problem
  • The agent works for the principal
  • The agent has private information
  • The principal only observes an outcome
  • Must decide to reelect/pay/rehire/keep the agent
  • If standards are too low, the agent “shirks”
  • If standards are too high, the agent gives up
  • We need a Goldilocks solution – set standards “just right.”
  • We may have to accept some an “information rent”
    • Either pay extra or accept agency slack (corruption?)
If reelection criteria are too high, the government will not supply effort when exogenous conditions are bad.
  • If reelection criteria are too low, the government will not supply effort when conditions are good.
  • What should you do?
  • Intuition: It depends on the probability of good/bad conditions & on the difference in outcomes when conditions are good/bad…
public choice bureaucratic theory
Public choice/Bureaucratic theory
  • IOs are like any bureaucracy
  • Allow governments to reward people with cushy jobs
  • The bureaucracy is essentially unaccountable
  • Seek to maximize their budgets
  • Look for things to do
what do ios do for their members
What do IOs do for their members?
  • Pooling resources (IMF/World Bank, World Health Organization) - share costs, economies of scale
  • Direct joint action - e.g., military (NATO), financial (IMF), dispute resolution (WTO)
  • Allow states to take (collective) action without taking direct responsibility (or take responsibility with IO support)
  • Examples:
    • The IMF does the dirty work
    • UN Security Council resolutions - a form of laundering?
      • When an IO legitimates retaliation, states are not vigilantes but upholders of community norms, values, and institutions
      • Korean War - The United States cast essentially unilateral action as more legitimate *collective* action by getting UN Security Council approval
  • Providing information
    • Really? http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jrv24/IMFforecasts.html
  • Collecting information
    • Really! http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jrv24/transparency.html
  • Example
    • Blue helmets:
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0n2-YpwPWY&feature=PlayList&p=BBF5269792FC9ED6&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=15
community representative
Community representative
  •  Legitimacy
  • Articulate norms? http://goodliffe.byu.edu/papers/catcascade2.pdf
  • Universal Jurisdiction (more than a norm - a legal standard) – The CAT
  • Honduras and the OAS??
  • The problem of endogeneity
    • 100% Compliance may mean the IO is doing *nothing*
    • Be careful what conclusions we draw from observations
  • Compliance is meaningful only if the state takes action it would not take in the absence of the IO
answers to today s question
Answers to today's question:
  • IO's reduce transaction costs - costs of doing business & coordinate on superior equilibria
  • Enabling members to have:
    • Neutrality
    • Community representative
    • Enforcement
    • Legitimacy - shared beliefs that coordinate actors regarding what actions should be accepted, tolerated, resisted, or stopped
  • To these ends IOs are created centralized & independent
analytical tools
Analytical tools
  • Time inconsistent preference problem / Commitment problem / Present bias
  • Research networking
  • Prisoner’s dilemma
  • Principal-Agent framework
  • Realist theory
  • Constructivist theory
  • Public choice/Bureaucratic theory