Edited by Henrik Enderlein, Sonja Wälti and Michael Zürn
Chapter 3: Multi-level Games
Frederick W. Mayer Governance is almost always a multi-level problem, as other chapters in this volume attest. This is perhaps clearest when dealing with the global challenges that require international cooperation. Whether establishing global trade rules that both facilitate economic growth and distribute the gains of globalization fairly, negotiating a climate change regime that balances the interests of developed and developing countries or ending the destructive cycle of violence among nations in the Middle East, the great difficulty is not just to address the international problem, but also and fundamentally to manage complex interaction between domestic politics and international relations. All of these issues would be hard to solve were nations unitary actors. But they are ever so much harder to address because the parties involved are not monolithic, because in every case internal politics makes rational action at the international level immensely more difficult. Since its invention by von Neumann and Morgenstern in the mid-twentieth Century, the theory of games has been enormously successful in modeling all manner of social interactions, including many of the central issues of global governance (von Neumann and Morgenstern 1944). Mainstream game theory, however, whether two-party or multiparty, competitive or cooperative, one-shot or iterative, simultaneous or sequential, has assumed that the parties involved are unitary rational actors. Applied to international relations, therefore, game theory has generally assumed this of nations. Treating nations (or for that matter legislatures, bureaucracies, interest groups and other collectives) as if they were individuals can be a very useful simplifying...
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