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Roger A. Coate, Jeffrey A. Griffin, and Steven Elliott-Gower

Interdependence is a key structural feature of the international system. While ambiguity exists over the concept and its usage, interdependence is central for explaining the nature and dynamics of international organization (IO), as well as international relations more broadly conceived. Interdependence involves interconnection/linkages among actors and systems of interrelationships of actors. Yet, interdependence means more than simple interconnectedness. It entails a relationship in which two or more parties are linked in a system of action in such a way that changes in one party impact in some meaningful way on the attainment of needs, values, and/or desired outcomes of the others. In other words, the satisfaction of each party’s needs and values is contingent to some degree on the behavior of others. The concept of interdependence is used in several areas. In general international systems, a system functions as a whole because of the interdependence of its parts. Interdependence also plays a significant role in Immanuel Wallenstein’s world-systems theory, as well as the closely related concept of dependency. Another important analytical thread in interdependence theorizing has been international integration, where the creation of cooperative transnational linkages for dealing with technical issues could result in a learning process that changed attitudes about cooperation. Finally, with interdependence as a core element, more systematic frameworks for analyzing and explaining the nature and role of transnational relations in world politics can be made.


Michael J. Butler and Mark A. Boyer

Negotiation has emerged as the foreign policy tool of choice within the broader context of “complex interdependence,” whether the issue is about human rights, economic development, and scientific, cultural, and educational exchanges, or organized crime, migration, disease, and pollution. The expanding role of international negotiation has been magnified by changes in the international system, including the emergence of issue-specific negotiation “subsystems,” regionalism, and international regimes. In addition to sovereign states, other actors involved in international negotiation and diplomacy include international governmental organizations/regional governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, multinational corporations, regional and substate actors, and even private individuals. A host of factors influence the behavior of these actors, such as cultural variables associated with national identity. Furthermore, both the character and the number of issues at stake in any particular negotiation play a crucial role in shaping the nature and complexity of the negotiation process. Research on diplomacy negotiation encompasses a substantial body of literature that provides a window into the complexity of the interactions that take place among and around diplomats. The intellectual richness of such literature offers a means of understanding the outcomes in the everyday world of diplomatic interactions, while also attesting to the value of pursuing multi-method approaches to social scientific research more generally.


Matthew Weinert

Literature concentrated on sovereignty’s location laid the groundwork for the distinctive sort of ethical detachment that has characterized sovereignty in international relations (IR). While it is customary to refer to sovereign absolutism as linking a logic of prerogative with sovereignty, mainstream IR theory has reproduced its own variation on the theme and done little until recently to decouple the two. Yet beginning in the late 1970s, the literature began to entertain the idea that interdependence and globalization impede, constrain, corrode, or diminish the core assumptions of sovereignty: the centralization of power and authority, the supremacy of the state, the state’s capabilities to achieve its objectives, and the degree of permissiveness afforded by an anarchical system. Put differently, the space within which sovereignty could operate unencumbered rapidly diminished in size and scope, and the sovereign state, by losing control over various functions, was becoming incoherent at minimum, and irrelevant at maximum. If these arguments focused on a narrow question, then a new literature emerged in the mid to late 1990s that focused on, and questioned, sovereignty as authority. Moreover, the debates about globalization underscored sovereignty’s disjunctive nature. Yet by linking it so closely with material structures and factors, the literature generally elided consideration of the constitutive effect of international norms on sovereignty and the ways the institution of sovereignty has changed over time.


Michael Colaresi and Jude C. Hays

Time and space are two dimensions that are likely to provide the paths—either singly or in tandem—by which international policy decisions are interdependent. There are several reasons to expect international relations processes to be interdependent across space, time, or both dimensions. Theoretical approaches such as rational expectations models, bureaucratic models of decision-making, and psychological explanations of international phenomena at least implicitly assume—and in many cases explicitly predict—dependence structures within data. One approach that researchers can use to test whether their international processes of interest are marked by dependence across time, space, or both time and space, is to explicitly model and interpret the hypothesized underlying dependence structures. There are two areas of spatial modeling at the research frontier: spatial models with qualitative and limited dependent variables, an co-evolution models of structure and behavior. These models have theoretical implications that are likely to be useful for international relations research. However, a gap remains between the kinds of empirical models demanded by international relations data and theory and the supply of time series and spatial econometric models that are available to those doing applied research. There is a need to develop appropriate models of temporal and spatial interdependence for qualitative and limited dependent variables, and for better models in which outcomes and structures of interdependence are jointly endogenous.