Neo-Liberal Institutionalism


-         modification of structural realism and liberal institutionalism

-         not really an alternative, competing theory

-         key difference from realism: institutions have independent causal, not epiphenomenal to power


Rational Choice Theories of Institutions

-         borrow from micro-economic theories

-         realist argue coop. is hard because of cheating and the relative gains

-         liberals argue that coop. is hard mostly due to cheating and collective action problem

-         creating institutions, especially qualitative multilateral ones, can alleviate collective action problem and relative gains concerns


Collective Action Problem (M. Olson)

-         Achieving cooperation is costly: to organize and to monitor and enforce

-         Those taking part have an incentive to ‘free-ride”: partake in benefits of cooperating but not pay the costs of achieving cooperation

-         Limits provision of public goods and may create “tragedy of commons”

o      e.g., sanctions against Iraq; preventing global warming


Public Goods

-         non-rival: my consumption does not effect your consumption

-         non-excludable: cannot prevent non-contributors from benefiting, or exclusion is prohibitively costly

-         e.g., light-house, public security



Institutions and the Collective Action Problem

-         institutions can overcome coll. act. prob.

-         created by hegemon or small groups of states

-         foster cooperation

o      provide information about who violates rules

o      can coordinate sanctions against violators

o      extend “shadow of the future”: belief that states likely to interact again in the future