History Matters: How International Regimes Become Entrenched—and Why We Suffer for It

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    A central point of disagreement animates global governance research. Some scholars see changing forms of global governance as eroding the power of the state. Others reject this claim, arguing that relative state power remains the most important factor in international affairs. I contend that analytical misconception confounds and misleads this debate. Both sides insist on modeling the state as a unitary actor; further, both neglect the temporal dynamics of international regime formation. I build a novel analytical framework that focuses on political processes that unfold over time and opens up the unitary state. Probing three decades of innovation in global finance, trade and environmental governance, I find no evidence of a zero-sum relationship: experimental forms of transnational governance often empower governmental actors and state agencies. However, I also conclude that relative organizational power grounded in historical processes of regime formation matters more than relative state power in shaping global regulatory change.



    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
    Journal publication date13 May 2017
    Early online date13 May 2017
    Publication statusEarly online date - 13 May 2017

    ID: 101157286