Social rewards and socialization effects in international institutions
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Traditional economic approaches in the cooperation theory find it difficult to account for countries’ decisions to join international institution when there are no sufficient or strong material motivations. Sociological approaches, on the other hand, introduce a previously neglected process—the effect of social rewards and social influence—by which interest-maximizing, rational actors come to cooperate. This paper adapts the socialization theories in international relations as an alternative explanation to further look at country’s motivation behind cooperation. Using China as the main case, it is hypothesized that the likelihood a country would join an international institution will increase if (1) it attaches greater importance to its international image and social status; (2) there are more countries the institution has as its members; (3) the higher the quality (security or environmental) of the institution, and; (4) the more “key members” there are in the international organization. Estimated from over 1600 observations of China in 172 international institutions over the period of 1978-2004, the results of the Event History model statistically proves the first three hypotheses. Directions for further research in this area are suggested at the end of the paper.
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