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The limits of hegemonic stability theory


  • Snidal, Duncan


Hegemonic stability theory has been advanced as an explanation of successful cooperation in the international system. The basis of this “hegemonic cooperation” is the leadership of the hegemonic state; its appeal rests on attractive implications about distribution. However, two distinct strands of the theory (“coercive” and “benevolent”) must be distinguished. These strands have different conceptions of hegemony and the role of hegemonic leaders and so have different implications. Both require us to assume that the underlying international issues are public goods and that the international system does not allow for collective action. The former assumption limits the theory's range of application while the likely failure of the latter means that the theory may be wrong even within this more limited range. Simple formal models demonstrate a conclusion completely at odds with hegemonic stability theory: the decline of a hegemonic power may actually lead to an outcome both collectively superior and distributively preferable than when the hegemon was at the apogee of its power. Thus hegemonic stability is, in fact, only a special case of international cooperation. Understanding cooperation in general requires less restrictive assumptions.

Suggested Citation

  • Snidal, Duncan, 1985. "The limits of hegemonic stability theory," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(04), pages 579-614, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:39:y:1985:i:04:p:579-614_02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Antoine Gervais & J. Bradford Jensen, 2013. "The Tradability of Services: Geographic Concentration and Trade Costs," NBER Working Papers 19759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Kunkel, 1998. "Realism and Postwar US Trade Policy," Asia Pacific Economic Papers 285, Australia-Japan Research Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. John Ravenhill, 2012. "The Numbers Game in Asia-Pacific Cooperation," Chapters,in: The Asia-Pacific, Regionalism and the Global System, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Robert E. Goodin & Werner Güth & Duncan Snidal, 2005. "Strategic Aspects of Hegemony," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2005-29, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    4. William Phelan, 2008. "Open International Markets without Exclusion: Encompassing Domestic Institutions, Excludable Goods, and International Public Goods," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp245, IIIS.
    5. Arild Underdal, 2013. "Meeting common environmental challenges: the co-evolution of policies and practices," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 15-30, March.
    6. Peter Mooslechner & Martin Schuerz, 1999. "International Macroeconomic Policy Coordination: Any Lessons for EMU? A Selective Survey of the Literature," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 171-199, September.
    7. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:1486-:d:109178 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Gregor Schwerhoff, 2013. "Leadership and International Climate Cooperation," Working Papers 2013.97, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Mohd Fairuz Md. Salleh & Wan Sallha, Yusoff & Norida Basnan, 2016. "Does Smart Power of ASEAN Cooperation Influence Firm Value? Evidence from Geopolitical Perspective," Acta Universitatis Danubius. OEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, issue 12(3), pages 83-97, JUNE.
    10. Aliyev, Khatai, 2014. "Expected Macroeconomic Impacts of the Accession to WTO on Azerbaijan Economy: Empirical Analysis," MPRA Paper 55096, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Pierre Berthaud & Tancrède Voituriez, 2013. "BASIC effect on global climate governance. Power changes and regime shifts," Post-Print halshs-00868468, HAL.
    12. James R. Hines, Jr., 1997. "Taxed Avoidance: American Participation in Unsanctioned International Boycotts," NBER Working Papers 6116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Hausken, Kjell, 1998. "Collective rent seeking and division of labor1," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 739-768, November.
    14. Pierluigi Morelli & Giovanni Pittaluga & Elena Seghezza, 2015. "The role of the Federal Reserve as an international lender of last resort during the 2007–2008 financial crisis," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 93-106, March.
    15. Hamanaka, Shintaro, 2018. "Theorizing regional group formation : anatomy of regional institutions from a membership perspective," IDE Discussion Papers 683, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    16. James Ashley Morrison & Avery F. White, 2011. "International Regimes and War," Chapters,in: The Handbook on the Political Economy of War, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    17. repec:dug:journl:y:2016:i:3:p:83-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. repec:spr:climat:v:144:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10584-015-1511-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Katada, Saori N., 1997. "Two aid hegemons: Japanese-US interaction and aid allocation to Latin America and the Caribbean," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 931-945, June.
    20. Joel Carbonell & Juliann Allison, 2015. "Democracy and state environmental commitment to international environmental treaties," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 79-104, May.

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