Portland State University. Department of Political Science
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science
International cooperation, International relations, Liberalism, Realism
1 online resource (ii, 172 pages)
In the last twenty years, the issue of the impact of relative gains on interstate cooperation has been at the center of the debate between the two major schools of thought in International Relations theory, namely neoliberalism and neorealism. Over time, the relative gains problem has ceased to be a radically divisive issue and has worked as a common research program that has brought the two theoretical perspectives closer together. Both neoliberals and neorealists have set aside major questions regarding the origins of the relative gains problem and of states' preferences, and they have focused on the problem of determining the impact of relative gains in specific issue-areas. The result of this shift of focus has been that relative gains no longer represent an independent variable that may help to explain the phenomenon of international collaboration but an additional dependent variable to be explained by the strategic characteristics of particular issue-areas.
This paper argues that the recent attention to issue-areas is partially misdirected in that it overlooks the main research question -why states are concerned with relative gains and why this affects international cooperation. The analysis of the influence of relative gains on cooperation among states in the realms of security and international economy shows that states are concerned with relative gains not only across, but also above issue-areas. This occurs because states are multipurposed actors which are interested in both welfare and security, and which value their standing vis-a-vis other states because their relative position determines whether they can achieve the aforementioned goals. Regardless of the nature of the objectives they pursue, it is the competitive orientation with which states interact in the international system that makes relative gains important. From this systemic perspective, it is then possible to conclude that relative gains have an impact on interstate collaboration because they affect states' positionality, and to predict that such an impact will be greater when states' positionality is immediately at stake.
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Corbetta, Renato, "The Impact of Relative Gains on Interstate Cooperation in the Areas of Security and International Economy" (1998). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6293.