Monday, 20 November 2000

From "International Regimes, Transactions, and Change [...]"

By John Gerard Ruggie.

The prevailing model postulates one source of regime change, the ascendancy or decline of economic hegemons, and two directions of regime change, greater openness or closure. If, however, we allow for the possibility that power and purpose do not necessarily covary, then we have two potential sources of change and no longer any simple one-to-one correspondence
between source and direction of change.


There remains the situation of no hegemon but a congruence of social purpose among the leading economic powers (albeit imperfectly, the post-1971 international economic order illustrates this possibility).

It is the last possibility that interests me most. [...] If and as the concentration of economic power erodes, and the "strength" of international regimes is sapped thereby, we may be sure that the instruments of regimes also will have to change [...] However, as long as purpose is held
constant, there is no reason to suppose that the normative framework of regimes must change as well. [...] rules and procedures (instruments) would change but principles and norms (normative frameworks) would not. Presumably, the new instruments that would emerge would be better adapted to the new power situation in the international economic order. But insofar as they continued to reflect the same sense of purpose, they would represent a case of norm-governed as opposed to norm-transforming change.

Applying this argument to the post-1971 period leads me to suggest that many of the changes that have occurred in the regimes for money and trade have been norm-governed changes rather than, as is often maintained, reflecting the collapse of Bretton Woods and a headlong rush into mercantilism.

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