Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stephen D. Krasner’s International Regimes - Presentation

Gave this presentation in IR theory class:
Donna Welles
IR Theory
Georgia Tech
October 9, 2012
Stephen D. Krasner’s International Regimes

1. Overviews

Structural causes and regime consequences:

regimes as intervening variables

By: Stephen Krasner  

“International regimes are defined as principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area.” 

Two basic questions: 

1) What is the relationship between basic causal factors such as power, interest, and values, and regimes?

2) What is the relationship between and related outcomes and behavior? (Do regimes make any difference?) 

This book offers 3 approaches to issue of regime significance: 

Oran Young, Raymond Hopkins and Donald Puchala:

  • Regimes are a pervasive characteristic of the international system.
  • No patterned behavior can sustain itself over time w/o creating a congruent regime.
  • Regimes and behavior are LINKED
Susan Strange

  • Regime is a misleading concept that obscures basic economic and power relationships
Arthur Stein, Robert Keohane, and Robert Jervis

John Ruggie, Charles Lipson, and Benjamin Cohen

  • Under certain restrictive conditions - International regimes may have a significant impact even in an anarchic world
Defining Regimes and Regime Change 

Regimes: “sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations.”

Principles: “beliefs of fact, causation, and rectitude”

Norms: “standards of behavior defined in terms of rights and obligations”

Rules: “specific prescriptions or proscriptions for action.”

Decision-making procedures: “prevailing practices for making and implementing collective choice.”  

Regimes can’t be temporary arrangements that change w/ every shift of power 

Distinguish b/w regimes and agreements

    • agreements - 1 shit arrangements
    • the purpose of regimes is to facilitate arrangements
    • “a form of cooperation that is more than the following of short-run self interest.” - Jervis 
Distinguish b/w principles and norms vs. rules and procedures

  • principles and norms - provide basic defining characteristics of a regime
  • Changes in rules and decision-making procedures are changes within regimes, provided that principles and norms are unaltered.”
  • Changes in principles and norms and changes of the regime itself. 
Distinguish b/w the weakening of a regime from changes within or between regimes 

“If the principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures of a regime become less coherent, or if actual practice is increasingly inconsistent with principles, norms, rules, and procedures, then a regime has weakened.”

In sum: 

  • Change within a regime involves alterations of rules and decision-making procedures, bot not of norms or principles
  • Change of a regime involves alteration of norms and principles
  • Weakening of a regime involves incoherence among the components of the regime or inconsistency between the regime and related behavior 
Do Regimes Matter? 

Hard to answer “no” to that question.  

When wrote book, assumed: 

Basic Causal Variables ---> Regimes -----> Related Behavior and Outcomes  


  • do NOT arise of their own accord
  • are NOT regarded as ends in themselves
  • affect related behavior and outcomes once in place
  • are NOT merely epiphenomenal 
Independent Impact of Regimes - central analytic issue  

Above - the 2nd causal arrow implies that regimes do matter, but there is no general agreement on this. Three basic orientations can be distinguished:

  • Conventional structural view - regime concept is useless, if not misleading (Strange)
  • Modified structural view - regimes may matter, but only sometimes (Keohane and Stein)
  • Grotian - regimes are inherent attributes of any complex, persistent pattern of human behavior (Hopkins, Puchala, Young)  
Explanations for regime development  

What is the relationship between basic causal factors and regimes?

What are the conditions that lead to regime creation, persistence, and dissipation? 

Lots of basic causal variables have been offered, but most prominent are

  1. egoistic self-interest,
  2. political power,
  3. norms and principles,
  4. usage and custom
  5. knowledge. 
2. Grotian Perspectives

Regime Dynamics: the rise and fall of international regimes

By: Oran R. Young 

3. Structural Perspectives

The demand for international regimes  

4. Cases

Security Regimes:

By: Robert Jervis  

Can the concept of regime be fruitfully applied to issues of national security?

- “It is anomalous to have a concept that explains phenomena in some parts of the field but lacks utility in others.”  

Security Regime: “those principles, rules, and norms that permit nations to be restrained in their behavior in the belief that others will reciprocate.”

- imples not only norms and expectations that facilitate cooperation, but a form of cooperation that is more than the following of short-run self-interest

ex. If you give a robber your money, you do not participate in a regime - even if the interaction occurs repeatedly and all participants share the same expectations

ex. Fact that neither superpower attacks the other is a form of cooperation, but not a regime.  

Why Security is Different? 

If patterns of intl relations can be explained by the distribution of military and economic power among the states -> the concept of regime will not be useful  

BUT If the connections b/w the outcomes and national power are indirect and mediated, there is more room for choice, creativity, and institutions to restrain and regulate behavior, and to produce a regime.  

APPEARS: Connections are less direct in non-security areas  

Prisoners’ dilemma dynamics in security and nonsecurity areas  

In security as well as trade, sea-bed exploitation, etc. → the frequent problem is that unrestrained competition can harm all actors  

Prisoners’ dilemma is the obvious model - the rational pursuit of self interest leads to a solution that is not pareto-optimal  

Both the incentives for establishing such regimes and the obstacles to so doing are especially great in the security arena because of the “security dilemma”.  

  • many of the policies that are designed to increase a state’s security automatically and inadvertently decrease the security of others
  • Security regimes are thus: BOTH especially valubale and especially difficult to achieve
    • valuable- individualistic actions are not only costly but dangerous
    • difficult- the fear that the other is violating or will violate the common understanding is a potent incentive for each state to strike out on its own, even if it would prefer the regime to prosper
5. Conclusions, con and pro

Cave! hic dragones:

a critique of regime analysis

By: Susan Strange  

The article asks: Is the concept of regime useful to students of intl political economy or is actually counter-productive? 

Challenges the validity of regime in 5 ways: 

1) The Study of Regime is a Fad

2) Imprecise

3) Value - biased

4) Distorts/Overemphasizes the static, Underemphasizes the dynamic

5) Narrowminded  

2 Indirect Criticisms:

  • Tends to deal predominantly with status quo, ignores ‘small’ voices
  • “persists in looking for an all-pervasive pattern of political behavior in world politics” when no such pattern exists 
5 Critiques of Concept of Regimes: 

1) Passing Fad? 

Concern with regime foundation and breakdown - American academic fashion

    • The rest of the contributers to this book work at American Universities
    • Similar groups of Europeans would have more diverse concerns
    • Discusses at length why it would appeal to Americans - Watergate, Carter Administration, Reagan. Americans want some invisible explanation for things. 
2) Imprecision of terminology 

Regime’ means different things to different people.  

Gives many examples of similar words that have misled people in the past.  

Talks about in this book, ‘regime’ has meant many things.

Keohane and Nye - means something quite narrow - ‘explicit or implicit internationally agreed arrangements. usually executed with the help of an international organization

Other authors emphasize: “decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge 

3) Value bias  

“it implies certain things that ought not to be taken for granted” 

Semantics: Talks about the 2 meanings of regime (from the French word): 

1) Everyday language it means a diet - something you follow wherever you are, for an extended period of time. Often imposed on a patient by some medical authority so as to improve someone’s health.  

2) Based on same broad principles of regularity, discipline, authority, and purpose - 2nd meaning is political: the government of a society by an individual, a dynasty, party or group that wields effective power over the rest of society  

Here - regime aften used in a negative sense  

Above all, a single recognized locus of power over time is the one attribute that the international system so conspicuously lacks.”  

4) Too static of a view 

“In sum, it produces stills, not movies.” 

5) State-centeredness

“Regime analysis risks overvalueing the positive and undervaluing the negative aspects of international cooperation.” 

Outline of a Better Alternative:

Involves extending Charles Lindblom’s Politics and Markets to the world system.

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