Structural causes and regime consequences: regimes as intervening variables

TitleStructural causes and regime consequences: regimes as intervening variables
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsKrasner, SD

Regimes can be defined as sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations.
Principles are beliefs of fact, causation, and rectitude.
Norms are standards of behavior defined in terms of rights and obligations.
Rules are specific prescriptions or proscriptions for action.
Decision-making procedures are prevailing practices for making and implementing collective choice.

Change within a regime involves alterations of rules and decision-making procedures, but not of norms of principles; change of a regime involves alteration of norms and principles; and weakening of a regime involves incoherence among the components of the regime or inconsistency between the regime and related behavior.

Main Questions:
1.) What is the relationship between basic causal factors such as power, interest, and values, and regimes?
2.) What is the relationship between regimes and related outcomes and behavior?

Argument: Regimes are more than just short-term calculations of interest. They are not ad hoc agreements but longer term.

Three major views on regimes:

1.) Conventional structuralist view: Regimes don’t matter. Power relationships matter. Regimes are merely window dressing for power plays and are thus epiphenomenal. (strange)
2.) Modified structuralist view: Assumes a structural realist world with self-interested states. However, regimes provide a mechanism of coordination that enable Pareto optimal outcomes when such outcomes could not be achieved under uncoordinated circumstances. Exception is with zero-sum interactions such as in security regimes. Thus, modified structuralism sees regimes emerging only under restrictive conditions. (keohane)
3.) Grotian view: Regimes exist everywhere, even in apparently anarchic situations, such as the market. Persistent patterns of behavior take on normative significance. Not just self-interest is at stake. Rather than states, elites are the main actors in international relations. States have limited power.

Five basic causal factors used to explain development of regimes:
1.) Egoistic self-interest
2.) Political power
a. Power in the service of the common good (e.g. public good)
b. Power in the service of particularistic interests
3.) Norms and principles
4.) Usage and custom (more of an intervening than an exogenous variable)
5.) Knowledge (also an intervening variable)

Changes in rules and procedures are regulative; principles and norms are constitute.