Part of neoliberalism, this theory of international relations, which emerged in the 1980’s, focuses on the degree to which institutions play a role in international relations. Unlike realists, members of this group see politics and economics as deeply interconnected. They acknowledge the competitive nature of the international system, but also the tendency of states to co-operate. That co-operation depends on sets of rules that ensure compliance and prevent cheating (a means of addressing the free rider problem). Neoliberals see all states as having an interest in maintaining the international system, particularly because of the benefits they receive from trade. Institutions also pool transactions costs by allowing information to be shared, further increasing their usefulness to states. Institutions can therefore facilitate co-operation.

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