Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Selectorate Theory and Global Governance

One random thought just occurred to me when I was reading Duncan Snidal's “The Limits of Hegemonic Stability Theory:”

Is Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's "selectorate theory" applicable to global governance? When the selectorate (in this case members of the international system) expands, for example decolonization after WW2, in order for the "hegemon" to sustain legitimacy, it is more likely to provide public goods instead of paying the "winning coalition" off--simply because it would be far too costly to provide private goods to every single member of the coalition. This might explain the effort of the US to promote public goods such as free trade.

I'm not sure whether BDM's theory can be applied like this, but it sure sounds interesting if it can. What do you think? Comments appreciated!


Matt Moran said...

Didn't the U.S. offer private goods to the winning coalition though? So maybe selectorate theory does apply here.

For example, membership in NATO could be considered a private good for the winning coalition in WWII. The only members excluded were the USSR and Japan, though one could argue that Japan is indirectly a member of NATO vis-a-vis bilateral agreements with the U.S.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read that post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. in fact was not selected by the selectorate of postwar international community. Nor did all members of international community receive the public good that the U.S.indiscriminately offered. Therefore, your analogy has no empirical reference of the selectorate you claimed. The application of the selectorate theory to global governance fails.

Steven Liao said...

There's an argument by scholars such as Ikenberry that US hegemony in Europe was an "empire by invitation." Would this indicate that European countries as "selectorates" supported a US hegemon?

Also, do you have specific public goods or "members" in mind in your comment?

Anonymous said...

It is unnecessary to identify what you called "specific public good or members" unless I agreed with the application of selectorate theory to global governance. I, however, disagreed with it.

You would notice that the selectorate is a formal institutional arrangement, not just anysort of informal political supports. If you insist that the theory is applicable, then you should tell us: By what formal institutional design was the US chosen as the "legitimate hegemon"?