Choosing How to Cooperate: A Repeated Public-Goods Model of International Relations

Randall Stone, Branislav L. Slantchev, Tamar London

International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 4. (July, 2008), pp. 335-362.


International relations theory has borrowed important intuitions from Olson's static public goods model (hegemonic stability) and the repeated prisoner's dilemma (theories of international cooperation), and arguments often combine implications from both models. We develop a general, repeated public goods model. We then allow the qualitative dimensions of cooperation to emerge endogenously: agreements can have broad or narrow membership and entail deep or shallow commitments; they can be multilateral or discriminatory; they can be ad hoc or institutionalized. We find that the relationship between the distribution of power and international cooperation is complex: a large leading state forms a narrow coalition of intensive contributors, and builds institutions, while a smaller leading state forms a broader coalition that makes shallow contributions, and is more inclined to multilateralism.


international institutions, public goods, discriminatory regime