Institutions as a Binding Block for Cooperation
Keohane and Martin take on “The Promise of Institutional Theory” as a response to John Mearsheimer. Keohane acknowledges that Mearsheimer has made some great contributions in dividing realist from institutional theory, but adds on that he has also some major flaws in his argument about realism, and has undermined the importance of institutional theory. It has been established previously that there is a positive correlation between investing in international organizations and state participation in international institutions, and therefore one could argue that international institutions are important to state policies, thus, it is important to understand how and under what conditions they work. But one question remains; are international institutions actually a powerful tool, or are they just puppets that get their power from major countries that are backing them up?
In an attempt to differentiate between Realism and Institutionalism Keohane starts by defining the two concepts by using Mearsheimers own article. In a realist world he says different states are driven by the gaining outcomes of their cooperation. Institutionalism on the other hand, sets rules before any cooperation can happen. This increases the probability of the promises being kept, and allows for a decrease in uncertainty. It is true that institutionalism would not exist if states do not see any self interest coming out of a possible cooperation with the other country. What we can conclude is that states agree to bind themselves so that other states will cooperate and bind themselves as well, and this will result in less uncertainty, allows for trade, and therefore produces a joint gain. Because of this mutual benefit from cooperating we expect governments to create institutions. These institutions can be helpful in addition to facilitating cooperation in that they also “can provide information, reduce transaction costs,... [continues]
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