Contested contracts

Rationalist theories of institutions in American IPE

Authored by: Alexander Cooley

Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy (IPE)

Print publication date:  February  2009
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415771269
eBook ISBN: 9780203881569
Adobe ISBN: 9781135984014


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Across the US academy rationalist approaches dominate the study of international political economy. Rationalism assumes that economic actors act instrumentally in pursuit of their ranked preferences. US-based rationalists have examined how a variety of international actors such as governments, states, firms, factor endowment interest groups, economic sectors, and political parties, respond to the pressures of the world economy (Gilpin 1975, Krasner 1976, Olson 1982, Milner 1988, Rogowski 1989, Gowa 1994, Frieden 1991, Shafer 1994, Garrett 1998, and Hiscox 2001). These studies theorize the political reactions of these economic agents to the distributional consequences of new international economic pressures such as changing price signals or the internationalization of trade and investment. Economic actors demand new political arrangements to capture these benefits and attempt to insulate themselves from their costs. The rapid rise and legalization of these new international governance arrangements has led US IPE scholars to increasingly turn their attention to the study of the formation, dynamics and consequences of institutions.

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