QUESTION: How well do IR’s main theories explain the structure and functioning of IOs?
In terms of functioning, you can consider any of the following: compliance, policies and output,
and/or effectiveness. In terms of structure, you can consider any of the following: the obligations
associated with an IO, its mandate or core objectives, and the rules governing the IO. You do not
need to incorporate all of these
General Essay Writing Advice
• Plan your essay thoroughly before you begin to write. Break the question down into its
different elements where possible. Conduct serious research, starting with the assigned
and recommended readings before going (much) further, and think critically about your
findings. The essay should explain your academic view on the topic in such a way that is
supported by appropriate evidence and a reasoned argument. It should not be a
summary of other peoples’ work. Ensure that you do not throw marks away needlessly
on structure and style, take care with spellings and grammar and references (consider
using referencing software, such as Zotero). Again, I will enthusiastically provide
assistance if approached so please do make use of my office hours – particularly in the
run-up to this essay!
Two pieces of additional advice:
• Never think a question is too basic or stupid: the worst you can do is NOT ask a
question you’re stuck with;
• And, never hesitate to strike out in innovative or intellectually adventurous directions if
that is where your reading and thinking takes you – just make sure to consult with me
where possible so that I can help guide your research in an appropriate direction for the
course assessment criteria.
First Class 70-79
Written work will be of a very high standard throughout. It will demonstrate thorough research
and contain analysis of a wide range of academic sources. It will critically engage with
competing academic perspectives within a coherent and well argued framework. There will be
very few grammatical or factual errors. Referencing should be flawless.
• Actor: States are the key actors, rational
– Foremost concern is their survival
• Structure: Anarchy—no authority above the state
• Advantage: protect yourself and scare off potential aggressors
• Disadvantage: makes others afraid
• they expand their power
• Security dilemma: by becoming more powerful, you potentially become less secure.
• IOs: • Instruments of the powerful!
• Designed to lock-in distribution of power
• Effective locking in power, but not necessarily on other policy objectives – It’s self-help world!
Struggle for power
Logic of consequences: maximize benefits while minimizing costs
Think of the UNSC
Explaining the creation of International organisations
• Rare occurrence
• Cooperation is typically inefficient because it provides benefits to others
• At times, however, it can be worth it and rational
1. Coordination can prevent a mutually undesirable outcome
• E.g., telecommunications, air navigation)
2. Hegemon (either regional or global) use to impose preferences on others and lock in
distribution of power
• IMF, World Bank
3. To bandwagon or balance against other powers: better than the alternative
• NATO, AIIB
(See Krasner 1991, Grieco 1990, Gruber 2000)
Textbooks and Useful Companion Texts
• Hurd, Ian (2018). International Organizations. 3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Hurd 2018). PAGE (19-21)
• Rittberger, Volker, Zangl, Bernhard, and Kruck, Andreas (2012) International Organization.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (Rittberger, Zangl, and Kruck 2012).
o PAGE (15-18)
• Alan Collins (ed.) (2016), Contemporary Security Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press) – Chapter
• For a comprehensive overview of IR theories see: Dunne, Timothy, Kurki, Milja, and Smith, Steve (eds.)
(2016) International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. 4th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press,
Chapter 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9.
• For a short overview of core IR theories see: Snyder, Jack (2004) ‘One World, Rival Theories’, Foreign
Policy, 145 (November/ December), pp. 52-62.
• Mearsheimer, John (1994) ‘The False promise of international institutions’, International Security, 19(3),
• Barnett, Michael and Finnemore, Martha (2004) Rules for the World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
Chapter 1 and 2.
• Brooks, S. and Wohlforth, W. (2008). World out of balance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.21.
• Gruber, L. (2000). Ruling the world. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
• Gilpin, R. (1981) War and change in world politics. [electronic book]. Cambridge : Cambridge University
• barry, b., Gheciu, A. and Wohlforth, W. (n.d.). The Oxford Handbook of International Security. oxford
• Guzman, A. T. (2008) How international law works. [electronic book] : a rational choice theory. New
York : Oxford University Press, 2008
• Peter Spiro,”what happen to the ‘new sovereigntism’?” foreign affairs, July 27, 2004
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