Information is of great value to politicians, who make decisions with uncertain consequences and want to convince the public and their political counterparts of the validity of their proposals. Because of conflicting interests and ideal views, information is not easily shared among political agents. However, information aggregation is collectively valuable, because it leads to better decision-making and facilitates defusing conflicts. Formal theorists investigate some of the institutions used to aggregate information among political agents. There are several studies on committee decision-making. They establish that rational voters do not make voting choices using only their individual information. This complicates information aggregation, especially when high quorum voting rules are adopted. However, deliberation may restore efficient information aggregation. In the case of homogeneous committees, strategic incentives for information acquisition are optimized by a decision mechanism based on random sequential individual consultations. The fundamental characteristic of committees is that all decisions are made jointly. An early 21st-century surge of formal studies on information aggregation considers the “opposite case” of information exchange among political entities that make decisions independently of each other. These articles deliver insights on topics as diverse as the optimal organization of meetings, the benefit of cabinet governments, the shape of political and social networks, and the value of engagement of societal groups. The breadth of these results is a testimony to the success and promise of this methodology. Of great importance for international conflict avoidance is building and maintaining trust among states and non-state entities. Formal analysis of international conflict management institutions such as standard diplomatic communications, peace summits, and third-party intermediation clarifies that, while none of these institutions fully prevent war, they are all useful to aggregate information, build trust, and facilitate peaceful agreements. Even communication through standard diplomatic channels and public announcements may significantly reduce the risk that disputes evolve into conflicts. Third-party intermediation is more effective, even if mediators are not endowed with the power to enforce their settlement proposals.
W. Kindred Winecoff
First-wave international political economy (IPE) was preoccupied with the “complex interdependencies” within a world system that (it believed) was rapidly devolving following the 1971 collapse of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates. The original IPE scholars were more dedicated to theorizing about the emergence and evolution of global systems than any strict methodology. As IPE developed, it began to emphasize the possibility that institutions could promote cooperation in an anarchic environment, so IPE scholarship increasingly studied the conditions under which these institutions might emerge. Second-wave IPE scholars began to focus on the domestic “level of analysis” for explanatory power, and in particular analyzed the role of domestic political institutions in promoting global economic cooperation (or conflict). They also employed a “second-image reversed” paradigm in which the international system was treated as an explanatory variable that influenced the domestic policymaking process. In opening up the “black box” of domestic politics, in particular as it pertained to foreign economic policy, the “American school” of IPE thoroughly explored the terrain with regression-based statistical models that assume observational independence. As a result, complex interdependencies in the global system were increasingly ignored. Over time the analytical focus progressively shifted to micro-level units—firms and individuals, whenever possible—using neoclassical economic theory as its logical underpinning (with complications for political factors). This third wave of IPE, “open economy politics,” has been criticized in the post-crisis period for its narrow focus, rigid methodology, and lack of systemic theory. Leading scholars have called modern IPE “boring,” “deplorable,” “myopic,” and “reductionist,” among other epithets. A “fourth-wave” of IPE must retain its strong commitment to empiricism while re-integrating systemic processes into its analysis. A new class of complex statistical models is capable of incorporating interdependencies as well as domestic- and individual-level processes into a common framework. This will allow scholars to model the global political economy as an interdependent system consisting of multiple strata.
Cyril Alias, Bernd Kleinheyer, and Carla Fieber-Alias
In an integrated European Union, transport would be expected to be a major enabler of economic development and consumer services. This role, however, was not acknowledged, though laid down in initial treaties, until 30 years into the EU’s existence. A verdict of the European Court of Justice condemning the longstanding inactivity of the European Council and subsequent efforts toward a dedicated policymaking have changed the significance. The regular definition and monitoring of goals and objectives in European transport policy by means of White Papers and trans-European transport networks guide public attention to the policy area. From an initial stage, when transport was considered as a functional enabler for cooperation after World War II, transport has evolved toward a Community task, featuring a long phase of stagnation and a sudden change to actionism after the court verdict. From the 1990s onward, goals like liberalization, cohesion, environmental protection, modal shift, competitiveness, globalization, and resource efficiency characterize European transport policy. Despite the output failure in European transport policy over many years, the Single European Market propelled transport onto the center stage of European policies and later made it a key object of sustainability policies. This change in focus has also attracted citizens’ attention with the effect that the EU needs and manages to portray itself as an interactive and accountable legislator dialoguing with its population. This new openness is a mere necessity if the EU wants to pursue its goal of a Single European Transport Area that is both supported by its business and citizens. At the same time, European transport policy is subject to numerous external influences—both by other European and national policies and different stakeholder interest groups. The ordinary legislative procedure is preceded by the initial agenda setting over the proposal planning and issuing and ranges from the proposal to three readings before being passed by European Parliament and Council of Ministers. The stakeholders accompany the whole process and influence it at different stages. Several examples from the history of European transport policymaking are proof of this.