Background: Robert Keohane’s book can be read as the ‘neo-liberal’ response to Gilpin’s strong, hegemonic claims. It birthed a productive research agenda that orbited around regimes and institutions as yet another answer to the ‘order problem.’ Taking on Waltz, Gilpin, and other ‘hard’ realists, Keohane’s central concern was/is: how do international politics carry on in the absence of a hegemon? He concluded that international regimes are capable of shouldering the burden.

AUTHOR’S BACKGROUND (use info from book, internet or other biographical sources):

Robert Keohane is a professor of International Affairs, Princeton University. He’s served as the editor of the journal of International Organization and as president of the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association.


- International cooperation can be maintained among the advanced capitalist states in the absence of American hegemony (43)

- There is little reason to believe that hegemony is either a necessary or a sufficient condition for the emergence of cooperative relationships (31)

- Cooperation does not necessarily require the existence of a hegemonic leader after international regimes have been established. Post-hegemonic cooperation is also possible (32)



- Terrorism has replaced fear of interstate nuclear war as the principal threat to the security of the American people (ix)

- The conjunction of what I called hegemonic cooperation and the apparent decline of hegemony framed the key issue for this book: “How can cooperation take place in world politics in the absence of hegemony?” (x)

- As of 2005, we have yet to have a test to determine if institutions will last “after hegemony”…per Keohane (x)

- Keohane builds on Realism, specifically neorealism (x)

o “We need to go beyond realism, not discard it”

o Units of action (states) and the motivations of the states are found in “After Hegemony”

o He agrees, states seek wealth and security for their own people, and search for power as a means to these ends

- Keohane argues that states build international regimes in order to promote mutual beneficial cooperation (xi)

o International clusters – clusters of principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures – reduce transaction costs of states, alleviate problems of asymmetrical information, and limit the degree of uncertainty that members of the regime face in evaluating each other’s policies.

§ International regimes can be explained in terms of “self-interest”

- Believes cooperation can be sustained by the prospect of mutual benefit, apart from superpower rivalry

- After Hegemony argues cooperation can take place without hegemony, and implies that international cooperation does not require American participation (xii)

o Increasing differences in values can drive global cooperation without the US

Ch. 3 – Hegemony

- Two central propositions of the theory of hegemonic stability (31)

o Order in world politics is typically created by a single dominant power

o The maintenance of order requires continued hegemony

- Theory of hegemonic stability defines hegemony as preponderance of material resources. Four sets of resources are important: (32)

o Control over raw materials

o Control over sources of capital

o Control over markets

o Competitive advantages in production of highly valued goods

- Keohane’s definition of hegemony: one state is powerful enough to maintain the essential rules governing interstate relations, and willing to do so” (35)

o This definition does not assume that “strength automatically creates incentives to project one’s power abroad”

- Concentrated power alone is not sufficient to create a stable international economic order in which cooperation flourishes, and the argument that hegemony is necessary for cooperation is both theoretically and empirically weak (38)

- A hegemonic state must possess enough military power to be able to protect the international political economy that it dominates from incursions by hostile adversaries (39)

- Uneven development in the context of a state system maintains rivalry and ensures that cooperation will be incomplete and fragile, but it does not imply that the struggle must become violent or that compromises that benefit all sides are impossible (44)

- Hegemony is related in complex ways to cooperation and to institutions such as international regimes (46)

o The hegemon may have to invest resources in institutions in order to ensure that its preferred rules will guide the behavior of other countries.

o Hegemony and cooperation are not alternatives; they are often symbiotic

o Coercion is always possible in world politics and that conflicts of interest never vanish even when there are important shared interests

o Cooperation should be defined as a process that involves the use of discord to stimulate mutual adjustments

Ch. 4

- Hegemonic leadership can help to create a pattern of order; hegemony depends on a certain kind of asymmetrical cooperation (49)

- International coordination of policy seems highly beneficial in an interdependent world economy, but cooperation in world politics is particularly difficult (49)

- Non-hegemonic cooperation is possible and it can be facilitated by international regimes (50)

- International regimes are easier to maintain than they are to create (50)

o International regimes is a way to understand both “cooperation” and “discord”

- Cooperation is possible after hegemony not only because shared interests can lead to the creation of regimes, but also because the conditions for maintaining existing international regimes are less demanding than those required for creating them (50)

- Harmony: a situation which actors’ policies ‘automatically’ facilitate the attainment of goals.

o Where harmony maintains, cooperation is unnecessary (51)

o Harmony is rare in world politics (52)

- Cooperation: requires the actions of separate individuals or organizations – which are not in pre-existent harmony – be brought into conformity with one another through a process of negotiation

o Cooperation occurs when actors adjust their behavior to the actual or anticipated preferences of others, through the process of policy coordination

o Cooperation does not imply absence of conflict (53); rather it’s a reaction to conflict or potential conflict

- Discord: when no attempts are made to adjust each other’s policies to meet each ones objective

- Cooperation must be analyzed within the context of international institutions with respect to: (56)

o Examining actors’ expectations about future patterns of interaction

o Their assumptions about the proper nature of economic arrangements

o Kinds of political activities they regard a legitimate

- International regimes: sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors expectations converge in a given area of international relations (57). International regimes are complex because it is defined in terms of four distinct components:

o Principles: beliefs of fact, causation, and rectitude

o Norms: standards of behavior defined in terms of rights and obligations

o Rules: specific prescriptions or proscriptions for action

o Decision-making procedures: prevailing practices for making and implementing collective choice

- Principles, norms, rules, and procedures all contain injunctions about behavior. They imply obligations, even though these obligations are not enforceable through a hierarchical legal system (59)

- Issue-areas: sets of issues that are in fact dealt with in common negotiations and by the same, or closely coordinated, bureaucracies (61)

o Since issue-areas depend on actors’ perceptions and behavior rather than on inherent qualities of the subject-matters, their boundaries change gradually over time

- World politics is decentralized rather than hierarchic: the prevailing principle of sovereignty means that states are subject to no superior government

o The result is sometimes referred to as one of “self-help” (62)

o Sovereignty and self-help mean that the principles and rules of international regimes will necessarily be weaker than in domestic society

Ch. 6

- World government does not exist, making property rights and rules of legal liability fragile (87)

- International regimes are derived from the deficiency of the “self-help” (88)

o The anticipated effects of the regimes account for the actions of governments to establish them

o These beliefs are justified under the categories of: (88)

§ Legal liability (property rights)

§ Transactions costs

§ Problems of uncertainty

- Principles and rules of regimes reduce the range of expected behavior, uncertainty declines, and as information becomes more widely available, the asymmetry of its distribution is likely to lessen (97)

- The high cost of regime building help existing regimes to persist; sometimes it’s cheaper to change an existing regime than it is to start a new one (103)

- Egoistic governments may comply with rules because if they fail to do so, other governments will observe their behavior, evaluate it negatively, and perhaps take retaliatory action (103)

o Disturbing one regime may cause effects in other established regimes

o Individual governments find it costly to retaliate; breaking rules may create an individual benefit, but it produces a “collective-bad” (105)

- International regimes perform valuable functions of reducing the costs of legitimate transactions, while increasing the costs of illegitimate ones, and of reducing uncertainty (107)

- Regimes can be affected by: (107)

o Alterations in world power relations, changes in interests, perhaps as a result of new patterns of interdependence, and changes in membership, as new independent countries join the regimes


- After Hegemony treats states as units, without taking into account variations in domestic politics or in the ideas prevailing within them. Domestic politics play no role in Keohane’s theory. (xii)

o Therefore, this work lacks theory of how to connect domestic politics and international institutions

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