The Global Governance of the Internet: Bringing the State Back In

Political Science Quarterly, forthcoming.

Popular and scholarly work on globalization focuses on the decline of state autonomy relative to other forces in world politics. These trends are even more concentrated when international relations scholars hypothesize about the effect of the Internet. Does globalization and the Internet weaken the ability of states to regulate the global economy? This paper argues that great powers remain the primary actors influencing the setting of global regulatory standards. Powerful states will use coercion, inducements and delegation, forum-shopping across substitutable governance structures to advance their preferences. Non-state actors can play important roles in supplying global governance, but only under certain constellations of state interests. In failing to recognize the substitutability of interstate and non-state governance structures, globalization scholars have unnecessarily restricted their analyses to simple comparisons of direct state involvement versus the role of non-state actors. This argument is tested on questions of Internet governance. Even in the setting of technical protocols, great powers may prefer to delegate regime management to non-state actors, but their preferences still dominate the outcome.

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The Hidden Hand of Economic Coercion

International Organization 57 (Summer 2003): 643-659.

Why do policymakers consistently employ economic sanctions even though scholars consider them an ineffective tool of statecraft? Game-theoretic models of economic coercion suggest the success rate may be understated due to selection effects. When the targeted country prefers conceding to incurring the cost of sanctions, it has an incentive to acquiesce prior to the imposition of sanctions. The bulk of successful coercion episodes should therefore end with sanctions threatened but not imposed. This contradicts the recent literature on sanctions, which assumes that sanctions rarely if ever work at generating significant concessions from the targeted country, and are imposed for domestic or symbolic political reasons. If the game-theoretic argument is correct, the crucial cases to study are those in which coercion is threatened but not implemented. A statistical analysis of data on sanctions in pursuit of economic or regulatory goals strongly supports the game-theoretic argument. These results suggest that the significance of economic coercion has been undervalued in the study of statecraft and international relations more generally.

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Outside the Box: Explaining Sanctions in Pursuit of Foreign Economic Goals.

International Interactions 26 (Summer 2001): 379-410.

Despite a marked increase in research on economic sanctions, empirical work has been constrained to a set of cases where sanctions are used for political or security issues, i.e., "high politics." Since most theories of sanctions are generalizable to cases of political economy, i.e., "low politics," this ad hoc empirical restriction is puzzling. This paper examines how well the existing theories of economic coercion can explain sanctions used to extract concessions on trade or regulatory issues. These theories are tested on a data set of 86 observations of the United States using or threatening section 301 action against a variety of target states. The results indicate that a conflict expectations approach is able to explain these cases as well as cases of high politics sanctions. Approaches stressing domestic politics or the use of sanctions as signals are of little use.

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Globalization and Policy Convergence

International Studies Review 3 (Spring 2001): 53-78.

An implicit assumption of most policy analysts and some academics is that globalization leads to a convergence of traditionally national policies governing environmental regulation, consumer health and safety, the regulation of labor, and the ability to tax capital. Some claim that the globalization leads to a race to the bottom, where concerns about the regulatory standards are sacrificed on the altar of commerce. Others argue that the growth of transnational governance structures leads to a negotiated convergence of ample regulation. This paper reviews the arguments and evidence made about how globalization affects the convergence of regulatory policies, in particular the setting of labor and environmental standards. It argues that the theories of policy convergence that rely on structural factors to induce policy convergence are largely unsupported by the empirical evidence. Theories that grant agents autonomous decision-making power perform better but remain underspecified. Ironically, the realist paradigm – which has generally denigrated the globalization phenomenon – could prove to be a fruitful source for theories of policy convergence.

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State Structure, Technological Leadership, and the Maintenance of Hegemony

Review of International Studies 27 (January 2001): 3-27.

The importance of technological innovation to economic growth and state power is generally acknowledged in international relations. Less attention has been paid to the state's precise role in fostering innovation. This paper argues that, contrary to realism, a centralized state is ill-suited to fostering innovation, particularly for technological leaders. Centralized states are more likely to make errors in crafting policy, and those errors cannot be reversed at the regional or local level. Decentralized states are better suited for the required tasks in fostering innovation. These hypotheses are tested against the Anglo-German rivalry for technological leadership in the late nineteenth century, and the U.S.-Japanese rivalry of the last twenty years. In both cases the more centralized regime -- Great Britain and Japan-- faltered after initial successes. This suggests a tension within great powers. Policymakers prefer a strong, centralized state to facilitate policymaking. However, the evidence suggests that a decentralized state structure is a necessary condition for states to sustain themselves at the technological frontier.

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Ideas, Bureaucratic Politics, and the Crafting of Foreign Policy.

American Journal of Political Science 44 (October 2000): 733-749.

There are several mechanisms through which ideas are supposed to influence preferences and outcomes, but one of the most important is that they are embedded into institutions. This presumes that once idea-infused institutions are created, ideas will survive and thrive. Bureaucratic politics suggests this outcome is far from certain. This paper takes a first cut at examining how idea-infused, or "missionary" institutions, survive and thrive in a world of bureaucratic politics. It suggests that missionary institutions face a tradeoff between surviving and thriving. Agencies that are insulated from other bureaucracies have a better chance of surviving, but are unlikely to influence the broad contours of policy. The reverse is also true; embedded agencies have a much lower chance of keeping their ideational mission intact, but if they do survive, their odds of thriving are greater. These hypotheses are examined by comparing the evolution of the Peace Corps and the State Department Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

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Bargaining, Enforcement, and Multilateral Economic Sanctions: When is Cooperation Counterproductive?

International Organization 54 (Winter 2000): 73-102.

Scholars and policymakers generally assume that multilateral cooperation is a necessary condition for economic sanctions to be of any use. However, previous statistical tests of this assumption have shown that sanctions are more successful with lower levels of cooperation. This puzzle calls into question established theories of economic statecraft as well as theories of international cooperation. This paper considers and tests possible explanations for this result, using Fearon’s (1998) breakdown of cooperation into bargaining and enforcement phases as a framework for discussion. The empirical results show that when multilateral economic sanctions fail, it is due to enforcement and not bargaining problems. Without the support of an international organization, cooperating states backslide from promises of cooperation. Backsliding occurs because of domestic political pressures and uncertainty about the intentions of the other sanctioning countries. Backsliding causes an initial burst of cooperative behavior to decay over time. Without institutional support, cooperation is worse than useless, it is counterproductive. This result suggests that international cooperation is a more fragile equilibrium than previously thought, but undercuts realist arguments that states cannot cooperate on critical issues.

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The Trouble with Carrots: Transaction Costs, Conflict Expectations, and Economic Inducements

Security Studies 9 (Autumn 1999/Winter 2000): 188-218.

International relations theorists know surprisingly little about the role of economic inducements, or carrots, as compared with economic sanctions. This paper analyzes the conditions under which carrots are feasible and/or preferable. Because of the high transaction costs of exchange in an anarchic world, there are significant impediments to the regular use of inducements. Carrots will be more likely and more successful in situations where transaction costs are reduced, such as between democratic dyads or within international regimes. However, even in cases where the use of inducements is a feasible option, it may not be the sender’s preferred choice. If the sender anticipates frequent conflicts with the receiver, it will be reluctant to proffer a carrot, for fear of weakening its bargaining position in the future. Even in cases where the two states have relatively harmonious relations, senders may prefer using economic or military coercion instead of inducements as a method of extracting concessions, because it is more cost-effective. Thus, carrots are often proffered as a second-best option. This argument is tested using data on U.S. offers of sanctions and bribes from 1948 to 1992, as well as a review of U.S. nonproliferation policy on the Korean peninsula in 1975 and 1994.

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Conflict Expectations and the Paradox of Economic Coercion

International Studies Quarterly 42 (December 1998): 709-731.

Despite their increasing importance, there is little theoretical understanding of why nation-states initiate economic sanctions or what determines their success. These events are often explained away as 'symbolic politics' driven completely by domestic-level factors. This paper develops a simple game-theoretic model of economic coercion to show that both 'senders' and 'targets' of economic coercion incorporate expectations of future conflict as well as the short-run opportunity costs of coercion into their behavior. Conflict expectations have a paradoxical effect on coercion events. First, senders that anticipate frequent conflicts will be more willing to initiate economic coercion, even if such an attempt is costly. Senders that anticipate few conflicts will not threaten sanctions unless they incur minimal costs and the target would suffer significantly. While a robust anticipation of future disputes might make the sender prefer a coercive strategy, it also reduces its ability to obtain concessions. Target states that anticipate frequent conflict with the sender will make fewer concessions. Ironically, a sender will obtain the most favorable distribution of payoffs when it cares the least about its reputation or the distribution of gains. These hypotheses are tested statistically, and the results strongly support the conflict expectations model.

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So You Want to Get a Tenure-Track Job…

PS: Political Science and Politics 30 (September 1998): 609-614.

Although the political science job market is highly institutionalized and has well-known routines, the hiring decisions made at the department level are somewhat more capricious. Unfortunately, job market candidates lack this information, leading to additional anxiety about the process. This paper offers some advice for the graduate student entering the academic job market for the first time, in the hopes of converting uncertainty into know risk, a more manageable commodity.

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Economic Coercion and Russian Foreign Economic Policy Since 1991

Security Studies 6 (Spring 1997): 65-111.

With the end of the cold war, great powers are increasing their use of economic coercion as a tool of statecraft, but there are few theoretical guidelines for policymakers on when economic sanctions will be effective. This paper argues that the key variable in determining sanctions success is the expectation of future political conflict between the sanctioner and the sanctioned. The more conflicts that are expected, i.e., between adversaries, the more actors will care about the relative gains implications of any concession. Economic coercion is shown to be less effective when there is a strong concern for relative gains. Therefore, sanctions will be less effective with adversaries than allies, despite a greater eagerness to punish adversaries. This argument is tested against the conventional wisdom about economic sanctions by looking at the record of Russian economic coercion of four newly independent states since 1992.

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Who Rules? Globalization and the Substitutability of Governance Structures

The current era of globalization has increased the demand for global regulatory coordination. The affected issue areas are diverse – labor standards, environmental protection, banking supervision, consumer health and safety, competition policy, tax rates, intellectual property rights. The actors associated with these issues – national governments, international governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and multinational corporations – are equally diverse. Under what conditions are regulations be coordinated at the global level? When there is international coordination, what determines the content of the agreed-upon policies? When will global standards be effectively enforced?

This paper argues that, despite the increasing heterogeneity of international relations actors, great powers remain the primary actors influencing the setting of global regulatory standards. Powerful states will use coercion, inducements, delegation, and forum-shopping across different international institutions to advance their preferences. Great powers will prefer to coordinate when the public goods generated from cooperation outweigh the adjustment costs of changing domestic regulatory standards. This is more likely to occur when the regulatory issue in question is a recent phenomenon.

Although great powers are the primary actors, they are not the only actors. Within this model of great power interactions, developing states, international governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations play roles of varying influence and type, but their independent effect will be small. Great powers will substitute governance structures according to the distribution of great power preferences. Only by understanding these interests is it possible to explain the variation of influence among non-state actors.

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Globalization, Coercion, and Competition: The Competing Pathways to Policy Convergence 

While economic globalization is frequently cited as a source for policy convergence, the precise causal links between these two variables often go unexplored. The common thread missing from most of the globalization literature is the role that state agency plays in the regulation of the global political economy. This paper builds on a simple game-theoretic model of policy coordination to develop two arguments. First, great powers remain the most important actors in determining the extent of policy convergence. When great powers act in concert, there will be effective policy harmonization. When the great powers fail to agree, partial policy convergence will take place through competition. The increasing returns to scale of regulatory harmonization will lead powerful actors to compete for as many allies as possible, leading strong policy convergence, but at multiple nodes. These different pathways are examined by examining the variation in outcomes of two different issue areas: money laundering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


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Clubs, Neighborhoods and Universes: The Governance of Global Finance

The globalization of finance and concomitant increase in financial crises increased the demand for a new "international financial architecture." Most of the scholarly and policy focus has centered on the role of the international financial institutions (IFIs) – the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. This paper argues that focusing on the IFIs overlooks the ability of the economic great powers to substitute governance structures as a means of advancing their common preferences. Because financial regulation produces a cleavage of interests between the developed and developing states, the developed great powers have relied on club organizations and forum-shopping among substitutable governance structures to create new modes of coordination. This argument is demonstrated by reviewing the development of new financial codes and standards in the wake of the Mexican and Asian financial crises.

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