Strategies in international regime negotiations: reflecting background conditions or shaping outcomes?

Original Paper


Negotiation behaviour is usually seen as an intervening variable—adapted to structural and institutional conditions, but with sufficient degrees of freedom to leave its own imprint on outcomes. Little is known, however, about the extent to which negotiation behaviour in fact shapes outcomes. This paper addresses that question, building on data from the Miles et al. (Environmental regime effectiveness: confronting theory with evidence. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002) environmental regimes project. Four main conclusions can be inferred from the analysis. First, the Miles et al. core model seems to account for a fair amount of the variance observed in the strategies adopted by “pushers” and “laggards,” but it also leaves ample scope for other explanations. Second, both of these groups respond to the choice of strategy made by the other. Third, adding negotiation strategies to the Miles et al. core model does not significantly change the conclusions obtained from that model itself. Finally, sometimes negotiation strategies—in particular combinations of strategies—nevertheless make a real difference, often through interplay with other factors. To better understand when and how this occurs, we need models that are more sophisticated and a combination of methodological tools designed for aggregating as well as separating effects.


Environmental regimes Regime effectiveness Negotiations Negotiation strategies 


  1. Abbott, K. W., & Snidal, D. (1998). Why states act through formal international organizations. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 42(1), 3–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnett, M., & Finnemore, M. (2005). The power of liberal international organizations. In M. Barnett & R. Duvall (Eds.), Power in global governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barrett, S. (2003). Environment and statecraft: The strategy of environmental treaty-making. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Benedick, R. E. (1991). Ozone diplomacy: New directions in safeguarding the planet. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Biermann, F., & Siebenhüner, B. (Eds.). (2009). Managers of global change: The influence of international environmental bureaucracies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Breitmeier, H., Young, O. R., & Zürn, M. (2006). Analyzing international environmental regimes: From case study to database. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Depledge, J. (2007). A special relationship: Chairpersons and the secretariat in the climate change negotiations. Global Environmental Politics, 7(1), 45–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Downs, G. W., Rocke, D. M., & Barsoom, P. N. (1996). Is the good news about compliance good news for cooperation? International Organization, 52(3), 379–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Easton, D. (1965). A systems analysis of political life. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. Haas, P. M. (1992). Introduction: Epistemic communities and international policy coordination. International Organization, 46(1), 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hasenclever, A., Mayer, P., & Rittberger, V. (1997). Theories of international regimes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hopmann, P. T. (1996). The negotiation process and the resolution of international conflicts. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hovi, J., Sprinz, D. F., & Underdal, A. (2003). The Oslo-Potsdam solution to measuring regime effectiveness: Critique, response, and the road ahead. Global Environmental Politics, 3(3), 74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Johansen, L. (1979). The bargaining society and the inefficiency of bargaining. Kyklos, 32(3), 497–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Miles, E. L. (1998). Global ocean politics: The decision process at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea 1973–1982. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  16. Miles, E. L., Underdal, A., Andresen, S., Wettestad, J., Skjærseth, J. B., & Carlin, E. M. (2002). Environmental regime effectiveness: Confronting theory with evidence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Olson, M. (1965). The logic of collective action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Ostrom, E. (1998). A behavioral approach to the rational choice theory of collective action. American Political Science Review, 92(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Parsons, C. (2007). How to map arguments in political science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Ragin, C. C. (1987). The comparative method: moving beyond qualitative and quantitative strategies. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Ragin, C. C. (2000). Fuzzy-set social science. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Sebenius, J. K. (1983). Negotiation arithmetic: Adding and subtracting issues and parties. International Organization, 37(2), 281–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sjöstedt, G. (Ed.). (1993). International environmental negotiation. London: Sage, in cooperation with IIASA.Google Scholar
  24. Susskind, L. E. (1994). Environmental diplomacy: Negotiating more effective global agreements. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Underdal, A. (2002a). One question, two answers. In E. L. Miles, et al. (Eds.), Environmental regime effectiveness: Confronting theory with evidence (pp. 3–45). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Underdal, A. (2002b). Conclusions: Patterns of regime effectiveness. In E. L. Miles, et al. (Eds.), Environmental regime effectiveness: Confronting theory with evidence (pp. 433–465). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Walton, R. E., & McKersie, R. B. (1965). A behavioral theory of labor negotiations. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  28. Ward, H., Grundig, F., & Zorich, E. R. (2001). Marching at the pace of the slowest: A model of international climate-change negotiations. Political Studies, 49(3), 438–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Young, O. R. (1991). Political leadership and regime formation: On the development of institutions in international society. International Organization, 45(3), 291–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Young, O. R. (2001). Inferences and indices: Evaluating the effectiveness of international environmental regimes. Global Environmental Politics, 1(1), 99–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Young, O. R., King, L. A., & Schroeder, H. (Eds.). (2008). Institutions and environmental change: Principal findings, applications, and research frontiers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Zartman, I. W., & Rubin, J. Z. (2000). Symmetry and asymmetry in negotiation. In I. W. Zartman & J. Z. Rubin (Eds.), Power and negotiation (pp. 271–293). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations