Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
"Institutional Diffusion in International Environmental Affairs," with Robert O. Keohane. 2012. International Affairs 88(3): 523-541. (Published in a special issue on "Rio+20 and the Global Environment: Reflections on Theory and Practice")
Abstract: We explore institutional diffusion in international environmental governance, specifying the conditions under which an existing set of institutions provides a template for new institutions. Prior institutional experiences can help to resolve bargaining problems, reduce transaction costs, and provide information about likely performance. We discuss five examples of institutional diffusion in international environmental affairs and outline some causal mechanisms and conditions that facilitate or block the diffusion of institutional characteristics. As a baseline analysis, based on assumptions that abstract from politics, we develop a functional argument about the conditions under which mimetic diffusion, reflecting a pattern of imitation, can occur. Although we focus in this short article on this functional argument, we recognize that state interests and power, ideology, and private interests also play significant roles in facilitating or inhibiting institutional diffusion in international environmental affairs.
Presented at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (London), Yale University, and the 2012 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association.
Work in Progress
"Focal Points in International Environmental Negotiations" (with Robert O. Keohane)
Abstract: What explains variation in the use of international institutions and agreements as focal points in international cooperation? We explore the conditions under which governments use international institutions and agreements as focal points in international negotiations. We argue that a focal point emerges in centralized international cooperation landscapes but declines as the landscape becomes decentralized. Focal points follow a life cycle. They rise and then decline over time depending on the number of international agreements and institutions on a cluster of related issues. As governments make more agreements and institutions on that cluster of issues, the salience of an institution or an agreement as a focal point for settling international negotiations declines because new potential points emerge and obscure the overall salience of the original focal point. We evaluate this life cycle theory of focal points with field surveys at two recent United Nations negotiations on global environmental issues and with supporting primary data from those negotiations. From a preliminary standpoint, we find support for the life cycle theory but find evidence for qualifications.