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An economic theory of mutually advantageous issue linkages in international negotiations


  • Tollison, Robert D.
  • Willett, Thomas D.


There has been considerable interest in recent years in the question of issue linkages in international negotiations. What is significant about discussions of linkages in the present era is the stress put on making trade-offs explicit among issues. Most of the highly publicized cases of proposed issue linkages appear to have been motivated by attempts of individual countries or groups of countries to extend their dominant bargaining or veto power in one particular issue area into other areas so as to achieve maximum advantage from their whole array of international interactions. The existence of an additional rationale for linkage that relies upon mutual interest has important implications. Drawing on the economic theory of exchange, the use of issue linkages to facilitate the completion of a greater number of mutually beneficial agreements among nations is considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Tollison, Robert D. & Willett, Thomas D., 1979. "An economic theory of mutually advantageous issue linkages in international negotiations," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(04), pages 425-449, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:33:y:1979:i:04:p:425-449_03

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    Cited by:

    1. Zintl, Reinhard, 1991. "Kooperation und die Aufteilung des Kooperationsgewinns bei horizontaler Politikverflechtung," MPIfG Discussion Paper 91/6, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    2. Jon Birger Skjærseth, 2016. "Linking EU climate and energy policies: policy-making, implementation and reform," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 509-523, August.
    3. Carraro, Carlo & Marchiori, Carmen & Sgobbi, Alessandra, 2005. "Advances in negotiation theory : bargaining, coalitions, and fairness," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3642, The World Bank.
    4. Jurje, Flavia & Lavenex, Sandra, 2013. "Issue-Linkage in International Migration Governance: Trade Agreements as Venues for “Market Power Europe”?," Papers 492, World Trade Institute.
    5. Scharpf, Fritz W., 1991. "Koordination durch Verhandlungssysteme: Analytische Konzepte und institutionelle Lösungen am Beispiel der Zusammenarbeit zwischen zwei Bundesländern," MPIfG Discussion Paper 91/4, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    6. Eichengreen, Barry, 1993. "International Monetary Arrangements for the 21st Century," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers 233202, University of California-Berkeley, Department of Economics.
    7. Luke Houghton & Larry Crump, 2016. "Temporal Events and Problem Structuring," Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(3), pages 324-340, May.
    8. Alexandre Sauquet, 2014. "Exploring the nature of inter-country interactions in the process of ratifying international environmental agreements: the case of the Kyoto Protocol," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 141-158, April.
    9. Zürn, Michael, 1987. "Gerechte internationale Regime: Bedingungen und Restriktionen der Entstehung nicht-hegemonialer internationaler Regime untersucht am Beispiel der Weltkommunikationsordnung," EconStor Books, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, volume 5, number 112658, September.
    10. repec:spr:ieaple:v:18:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10784-018-9387-z is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Sebastian Oberthür & Thomas Gehring, 2004. "Reforming International Environmental Governance: An Institutionalist Critique of the Proposal for a World Environment Organisation," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 359-381, December.
    12. Barbara Buchner & Carlo Carraro & Igor Cersosimo & Carmen Marchiori, 2002. "Back to Kyoto? US Participation and the Linkage between R&D and Climate Cooperation," CESifo Working Paper Series 688, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Johannes Urpelainen, 2012. "Technology investment, bargaining, and international environmental agreements," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 145-163, May.
    14. Stefanie Bailer & Florian Weiler, 2015. "A political economy of positions in climate change negotiations: Economic, structural, domestic, and strategic explanations," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 43-66, March.
    15. Thomas Kuhn & Radomir Pestow & Anja Zenker, 2018. "Endogenous Climate Coalitions and Free Trade - Building the Missing Link," Chemnitz Economic Papers 018, Department of Economics, Chemnitz University of Technology.
    16. Thomas Willett & D. Laband & Todd Sandler & David Davies & Douglass North, 1981. "Reviews," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 377-388, January.
    17. Kemfert, Claudia, 2004. "Climate coalitions and international trade: assessment of cooperation incentives by issue linkage," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 455-465, March.
    18. Benz, Arthur, 1991. "Mehr-Ebenen-Verflechtung: Politische Prozesse in verbundenen Entscheidungsarenen," MPIfG Discussion Paper 91/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    19. Hoekman, Bernard & Mavroidis, Petros C., 2002. "Economic development, competition policy, and the World Trade Organization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2917, The World Bank.
    20. Roland Vaubel, 1986. "A public choice approach to international organization," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 51(1), pages 39-57, January.
    21. Congleton, Roger D., 1995. "Return to Rio: Agency problems and the political economy of environmental treaties," Discussion Papers, Series II 261, University of Konstanz, Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 178 "Internationalization of the Economy".
    22. Peter Knaack & Saori N. Katada, 2013. "Fault Lines and Issue Linkages at the G20: New Challenges for Global Economic Governance," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 4(3), pages 236-246, September.
    23. Timo Goeschl, 2005. "Non-binding linked-issues referenda: Analysis and an application," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 249-266, September.

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