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The limitations of “structural†theories of commercial policy


  • McKeown, Timothy J.


If a “structural†theory is one that purports to explain behavior in terms of environmental conditions and that largely eschews analysis of the internal processes of decision makers, then it is difficult to identify a theory of commercial policy which is not “structural.†Most microeconomic theory is structural; so are most balance-of-power theories. In the realm of theories of commercial policy, hegemonic stability theories as well as some recently developed theories of international tariff levels fit this description. In the latter category Judith Goldstein's work, which attempts to account for American commercial policy in terms of the ideology of American central decision makers, and Charles Kindleberger's ambitious sketch of a general theory of 19th-century tariff changes in terms of the diffusion of liberal ideology constitute lonely examples of nonstructural research strategies.

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  • McKeown, Timothy J., 1986. "The limitations of “structural†theories of commercial policy," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(1), pages 43-64, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:40:y:1986:i:01:p:43-64_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Trofimov, Ivan D., 2017. "Political economy of trade protection and liberalization: in search of agency-based and holistic framework of policy change," MPRA Paper 79504, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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