Theme Panel: The Slow Pace of Big Transformations in International Relations


Theme Panel: The Slow Pace of Big Transformations in International Relations

Thu, September 1, 4:00 to 5:30pm

Transformations in structures of international cooperation are commonly understood to be the result of historical junctures such as wars and economic crises that shift international balances of power. Many transformations, however, are the result of relatively slow processes in which incremental changes gradually serve to reorganize the practices and priorities of states. The processes that produce these transformations often precede historical junctures and suggest that transformations have origins that are endogenous (not exogenous) to the contexts in which they develop. This panel explores the contributions of historical institutionalism to the study of transformations in international cooperation. As a tradition of research, historical institutionalism offers a sophisticated analytical toolbox for identifying the effects of endogenous processes of institutional change, and for when and how such processes serve to gradually transform structures of governance.

The panel explores transformative changes in international cooperation as cumulative historical processes and features papers that study the causal impact of positive and negative feedback effects in shaping the timing, sequence, tempo, and duration of change. Five papers cover a range of empirical themes, including the role of states and non-state actors in shaping international institutional transformations (Newman and Nexon), the origins of major changes in informal structures of global economic governance (Fioretos), the consequences of rising powers for structures of cooperation in the 21st century (Faude and Stephen), the emergence of complex forms of regionalism (Yeo), and how the interplay between resilient and new norms shape changes and continuities in global environmental cooperation (Bernstein and van der Ven).

View in the 2016 Online Program.

Karen Alter, Northwestern University

Karen Alter, Northwestern University


  • Global Historical Institutionalism: A Theoretical Agenda
    Abraham Newman, Georgetown University
    Daniel H. Nexon, Georgetown University
  • Informal Institutions in the International Liberal Economic Order
    Karl Orfeo Fioretos
  • Rising States, Power Transitions, and Institutional Change in Global Governance
    Benjamin Faude, WZB — Social Science Center Berlin
    Matthew D. Stephen, WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • Gradual Transformations in Asian Regionalism
    Andrew Yeo, Catholic University of America
  • Stasis and Change in Global Environmental Politics
    Steven F. Bernstein, University of Toronto; Hamish van der Ven, Yale University