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Collective Goods and Future International Collaboration*

  • John Gerard Ruggie (a1)


Certain institutional changes in the advanced industrial societies are said to be leading toward postindustrial, if not postmodern, forms of sociopolitical organization. Scientific and technological developments are usually seen as the generating forces of such change, a major dimension of which is thought to be a growing pre-occupation with goods and services which are produced and/or purchased communally.

There exists a parallel phenomenon in the modern interstate system, namely, a growing incidence of joint production and joint regulation by states, much of it in scientific and technological fields. Factors both leading to and limiting such joint activities, and some consequences of different kinds of collective decision making and administrative arrangements for the interstate system, are here explored.

It is an explicit aim of this inquiry, in addition, to avoid the evolutionary or functionalist assumptions informing much of the contemporary study of international organization. Instead, I argue that the processes of international organization are generated by how and why states choose from among alternate modes of performing tasks, both national and international, under varying conditions of possibilities and constraints. The bulk of the article develops and illustrates permutations of this basic posture.

The analysis suggests a number of future modifications of the modern interstate system, and of the modern state as an actor in that system. But these modifications share little with the kinds of international arrangements and structures past theories have led us to expect.



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This article is based upon, and is a revised treatment of, parts of a longer paper presented at the 66th Annual Meeting, American Political Science Association, Los Angeles, September 8–12, 1970. I am delighted to acknowledge the contribution of a number of friends, colleagues, and teachers to the thoughts contained herein. In particular, Ernst B. Haas first stimulated and encouraged the work, and, together with Todd R. LaPorte, and Robert Butterworth, gave generously of time and advice during preparation of the original paper; the APSA panel, consisting of Robert W. Cox, Lawrence Scheinman, James Patrick Sewell, and Oran R. Young, provided an exceedingly stimulating and helpful forum within which to discuss the possibilities and limitations of these thoughts; a number of incisive comments by an anonymous referee for this REVIEW are gratefully acknowledged; and the facilities provided by the Institute of International Studies, University of California at Berkeley, are much appreciated as well.



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1 Bell, Daniel popularized this term in his “Notes on the postindustrial society,” The Public Interest, No. 6 (Winter 1967), pp. 2435; No. 7 (Spring 1967), pp. 102–118.

2 Bell, p. 103.

3 For an extended, informed and informative analysis of these developments, consult Shonfield, Andrew, Modern Capitalism: The Changing Balance of Public and Private Power (London: Oxford University Press, 1965).

4 John Kenneth Galbraith argues that the mature corporation is being fundamentally transformed, especially in its relations with the social system around it, as a result of the rise of the “technostructure” in turn brought about by the impact of science and technology. The New Industrial State (New York: Signet Books, 1968).

5 Robert L. Heilbroner contends that the market economy is being fundamentally transformed, as a result of ever greater reliance upon planning, in turn generated by the impact of science and technology. The Limits of American Capitalism (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), Part II.

6 As a result of the general uncertainties and complexities generated by modern sciences and technologies, which traditional organizational structures have difficulty coping with, we are said to be heading “beyond bureaucracy,” by, among others, Bennis, Warren and Slater, Philip (in The Temporary Society [New York: Harper & Row, 1968]).

7 The classic work of this genre is Don Price's study of the impact of public science funding, and of advisory structures of various kinds, upon American government. The Scientific Estate (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965).

8 Cited in Gilpin, Robert, France in the Age of the Scientific State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 416.

9 Skolnikoff, Eugene B., The International Imperatives of Technology (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, Research Series, No. 16, 1972), p. 153.

10 The most extensive compendium of such “imperatives” is Skolnikoff's The International Imperatives of Technology; see also his The International Functional Implications of Future Technology,” prepared for delivery at the 66th Annual Meeting, American Political Science Association, Los Angeles, 09 8–12, 1970.

11 See, for example, Falk, Richard A., This Endangered Planet (New York: Random House, 1971).

12 Among the general environmental conditions which have received attention of late is that of interdependence. Much of the political science work with the concept was stimulated by Cooper's, Richard N.The Economics of Interdependence (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968). In Cooper's usage, the term is only loosely defined; and the political science work based on Cooper's formulation has, thus far, simply drawn our attention to the phenomenon. Among the better discussions are Young, Oran R., “Interdependencies in World Politics,” International Journal, 24 (Autumn 1969), 726750; and Morse, Edward R., “The Transformation of Foreign Policies: Modernization, Interdependence, and Externalization,” World Politics, 22 (04 1970), 371393. The extent to which particular situations might increase the level of interdependence between states, or effect interdependencies of a new kind, is only loosely explored at best.

13 An excellent discussion of functionalist thinking in the context of international organization may be found in Sewell's, James PatrickFunctionalism and World Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966).

14 This kind of argument is quite common. The particular citation is from Etzioni, Amitai, “The Dialectics of Supranational Unification,” International Political Communities (Garden City: Anchor Books, 1966), p. 147.

15 Note, for example, the refutation by Deutsch, Karl W. and his collaborators, in Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957): “In this view, as villages in the past have joined to make provinces, and provinces to make kingdoms, so contemporary states are expected to join in ever-larger states or federations …. Our findings do not support this view” (p. 24).

16 Sewell, , Functionalism, p. 12.

17 Miles, Edward, “Relationships between Technology and Intergovernmental Cooperation in International Organization,” Prepared for the Conference on Functionalism and the Changing Political System, Bellagio, November 20–24, 1969. Miles appears to be summarizing functionalist thought and not necessarily expressing his own theoretical preferences. The citation is from pp. 1–2.

18 Sewell, , Functionalism, p. 9. A related line of reasoning, containing elements of both this and the previous variant of the basic metaphor, argues that because the modern state is outmoded and ill-suited as an organizational form in the face of the interdependencies and the complexities of contemporary political life, particularly those generated by the impact of technologies, therefore new transnational or supranational systems will arise. (See, for example, Armand, Louis and Drancourt, Michel, The European Challenge [New Work: Atheneum, 1970].)

19 This illustration, which obviously does not do justice to the subtlety of the neofunctionalist argument and research, is drawn from Ernst Haas's early work on European integration. (For a summary statement, see Haas, , “The Challenge of Regionalism,” International Organization, 12 [Autumn, 1958], 440459.) The most recent and most extensive presentation of neofunctionalist thinking and re-evaluation is contained in Regional Integration: Theory and Research, ed. Lindberg, Leon N. and Scheingold, Stuart A., International Organization, 24, No. 4 (Autumn, 1970).

20 Haas, Ernst B., “International Integration—The European and the Universal Process,” International Political Communities, pp. 103104; emphases added.

21 The difficulties entailed by this particular limitation of the approach are encountered whenever the original formulations are applied to a geographical region other than Western Europe, or at the global level.

22 A superb discussion of the origins and significance of the Westphalia conception is presented by Gross, Leo, “The Peace of Westphalia, 1648–1948,” in Falk, Richard A. and Hanrieder, Wolfram F., eds., International Law and Organization (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1968); an equally good discussion of the various modifications the Westphalia system has undergone is Falk's, The Interplay of Westphalia and Charter Conceptions of International Legal Order,” in Falk, Richard A. and Black, Cyril, eds., The Future of the International Legal Order, Vol. I (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969).

23 This is the analgous situation I wish to exploit for proposition and insights.

24 The concept of “interdependence costs” is used by Buchanan, James M. and Tullock, Gordon, in The Calculus of Consent (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962), to refer to the sum of “external costs” (those incurred through the actions of others in the collective arrangement) and “decision-making costs” (the costs of participating in a collective arrangement). Here I use the concept to mean a more general loss of independence or loss of control over one's own activities, resulting from the accumulation of collective constraints.

25 Cooper, in The Economics of Interdependence, describes such constraints in international economic affairs.

26 By propensity is meant what a state will try to accomplish, or that which it wishes and technically can accomplish; it does not define the ultimate outcome since that, of course, depends upon others as well. This latter dimension is introduced into the analysis in a later section.

27 The figures accompanying the verbal argument which follows do not constitute a formal deductive model in the strict usage of the term. Instead, they are intended as diagrammatic representations of the various assumptions and modifications which are introduced into the analysis, and are utilized so that the latter can be more effectively demonstrated.

28 Formally, this locus consists of the points of tangency between the “production isoquants” of the two goods. While there is no need to pursue it here, the interested reader might wish to consult Brennan, Michael J., Theory of Economic Statics (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1965), Chap. 31; Mansfield, Edwin, Microeconomics: Theory and Applications (New York; W. W. Norton, 1970), Chap. 14; and, in particular, Bator, Francis M., “The Simple Analytics of Welfare Maximization,” American Economic Review, 47 (03, 1957), 2259.

29 The fact that the indifference curves are represented as being asymptotic to the axes indicates that diminishing marginal rates of substitution too are assumed; that is, extreme cases of complete internationalization and complete isolation are both excluded from the preferences of states in this analysis.

30 The precise formulation would require taking partial derivatives of the transformation and utility functions, the point of equilibrium being where the slope of one minus the slope of the other equals zero. Where lower-case u's and t's refer to these partial derivatives, a to state A, the case for B being identical,

For a geometric and algebraic demonstration, see Buchanan, James M., The Demand and Supply of Public Goods (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1968), chap. 2. I have found Buchanan's volume to be an enormously helpful formulation of public goods phenomena.

31 In the context of more sophisticated and discrete analyses, it may, however, be desirable to operationalize the point E. In that case, some of the technical suppositions of the formulation, resting, as it does, upon differential calculus, might prove to be a constraint. In particular, it might be found that the resources available to a state are not perfectly substitutable, and that the objects of choice are not continuously divisible. While different mathematical systems (such as set theory) are now beginning to be utilized in this area of inquiry, much of the work in the theory of collective goods is based upon the mathematics of a prior vintage. For our exploratory intent, the latter will suffice.

32 Even though the model deals with any form of international organization, the following illustrations are drawn from intergovernmental organizations, simply because data from these are more readily available.

33 Lindberg, Leon N. and Scheingold, Stuart A., Europe's Would-Be Polity (Englewood Cliffs. Prentice-Hall, 1970), p. 95.

34 Cited in Gilpin, , France in the Age of the Scientific State, p. 377.

35 Gilpin, p. 407.

36 I base this judgment on Gilpin's account, in the volume previously cited; upon an excellent analytical study of Euratom by Scheinman, Lawrence (“Euratom: Nuclear Integration in Europe,” in International Regionalism, ed. Nye, J. S. Jr., [oston: Little, Brown, 1968]); and a detailed documentary and historical account by Walsh, Warren B. (Science and International Public Affairs [Syracuse: The Maxwell International Relations Program, 1967]).

37 Data on international R & D expenditures are difficult to obtain. The various sources utilized, and the various procedures by means of which the measures were arrived at, are described in the notes to Table 2.

While expenditures have changed since 1963/64, the pattern of expenditures appears reasonably stable. International R & D funding increased from 1963 to about 1968 (Villecourt, Louis, “Forms of Cooperation,” Problems of Science Policy [Paris: OECD, 1968]). Since then, “as far as the increasing share of national science budgets going to international projects is concerned in different OECD states, it seems that this share has either stabilized or even slightly decreased” (Louis Villecourt, private communication to the author, 4 June 1970).

38 This is true of the relationship between the i/n ratio and GNP as well, the R & D correlations there being lower still.

39 The percentage of GNP devoted to development assistance in 1968 by each of the three was at least twice that of 1960. Comparable R & D information was not available.

40 These standard definitions of private and public (or collective) goods were first developed formally by Samuelson, Paul, in “The Pure Theory of Public Expenditures,” Review of Economics and Statistics, 36 (1945), 387389.

41 The classification and the various definitions are based upon an extraordinarily clear presentation of the concept of collective goods by J. G. Head; see Public Goods and Public Policy,” Public Finance, 17 (1962), 197219; this particular definition appears on pp. 201–202.

42 Head, p. 207.

43 Head, p. 203.

44 Although the two properties appear to be similar, joint supply and problems of exclusion “are conceptually quite distinct properties … and are in no way related. A clear differentiation between them is therefore extremely important to preserve.” (Head, p. 210)

45 I emphasize would, because the idealized conditions of the model are assumed to hold. According to the model, equilibrium for the entire system (here taken to mean the establishing of an organization) would be reached when this relation is satisfied:

In other words, the summed marginal rates of substitution (summed over all relevant states) must be equal to the marginal rate of transformation.

46 In the terms of Figure 2, the transformation curve for each state would shift outward, away from the origin, or at least no state would be left worse off as a result of some being better off.

47 The example of Euratom, as described above, and in particular the rather fundamental changes in the organization of joint research activities effected between 1968 and the present, appear to attest to this conclusion.

48 Cited by Servan-Schreiber, J.-J., in The American Challenge (New York: Avon Books, 1969), p. 112.

49 The technology gap, and various European responses to it, are discussed in Gilpin, France in the Age of the Scientific State, passim. OECD has conducted a major study of the gap, and its findings have been published in a number of volumes. See, most importantly, Gaps in Technology: Analytical Report (Paris: OECD, 1970).

The Americans, in turn, have recently begun to complain that the technology gap is shifting in their disfavor, citing an alleged increasingly unfavorable technological balance of payments. These allegations are examined in Boffey, Philip M., “Technology and World Trade: Is There Cause for Alarm?Science, 172 (2 04, 1971), 3741.

50 The most famous exhortation was that of Servan-Schreiber, in The American Challenge. A more sophisticated analysis and set of proposals, in much the same tradition, may be found in Layton, Christopher, European Advanced Technology: A Programme for Integration (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1969).

51 OECD, Reviews of National Science Policy: United States (Paris: 1968), p. 307.

52 King, Alexander, “International Scientific Relations: Introduction,” Problems of Science Policy (Paris: 1968), p. 141. King is Director, Directorate for Scientific Affairs, OECD.

53 More precisely, were the conditions of our model to hold, A would seek to impose the average cost upon each user. However, as long as some states, who would be willing to pay the marginal cost, are excluded by the average cost, Pareto-efficient pricing does not exist. And, in a world of optimum conditions, such as that described by our model, “the position could be substantially improved by lowering the uniform price toward the true marginal social (opportunity) cost of supplying the service to the last user” (Head, , “Public Goods and Public Policy,” p. 212). If this were negligible, A's compensation would amount to virtually nothing.

54 For a review of these various projects, see Gruchow, Nancy, “Weather Services: Working toward Worldwide Forecasts,” Science, 168 (17 04, 1970), 352353. The administrative and decisionmaking arrangements of the GARP observational experiments are described in, WMO-ICSU, “Report of Interim Planning Group on GARP Tropical Experiment in the Atlantic, London, July 1970,” GARP Special Report No. 2 (Geneva: 08 1970).

55 In the context of the UN these issues are reviewed in Issues Before the 25th Assembly,” International Conciliation, 579 (09 1970), 5964; see also the recommendations prepared for the 1972 Stockholm conference on the human environment (UN, A/CONF. 48/PC.9; 26 February 1971). The recent US initiative to establish a UN environment fund, which would include financing for monitoring, should be noted as well (Nixon Offers Environment Plan,” International Herald Tribune, 02 9, 1972).

56 The texts are reproduced in Padelford, Norman J., Public Policy for the Seas (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1970).

57 National sovereignty over the continental shelf and its subsoil was agreed to, but the area itself was barely defined:

For the purposes of these articles the term “continental shelf” is used as referring (a) to the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 meters or, beyond that limit, to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said area; (b) to the seabed and subsoil of similar areas adjacent to the coasts of islands.

Cited in Padelford, , Public Policy for the Seas, p. 69; emphases added.

58 For a review, a suggestion of what the consequences could be, and an expression of fear of what the consequences will be, see Friedman, Wolfgang, The Future of the Oceans (New York: Braziller, 1971).

59 These principles are briefly summarized in the UN Monthly Chronicle, 8 (04 1971), 2126.

60 The state of technology of weather control is assessed in Hammond, Allen L., “Weather Modification: A Technology Coming of Age,” Science, 172 (7 05, 1971), 548549.

61 For example, every activity could be analyzed from the perspective of the second-order consequences it generates. The vast literature on externalities could then be employed. (Among the finest works on externalities is Baumol, William J., Welfare Economics and the Theory of the State [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965]). Or, each activity may be classified according to whether it is perceived as being distributive, redistributive, regulative, or self-regulative, as defined by Lowi, Theodore J.. (See, for example, “American Business, Public Policy, Case Studies, and Political Theory,” World Politics, 16 [July 1964], 677715; Salisbury, Robert H. has extended Lowi's, work in “The Analysis of Public Policy: A Search for Theories and Roles,” Political Science and Pubtic Policy, Ranney, Austin, ed. [Chicago: Markham, 1968], pp. 151175.) Other possibilities, of course, exist.

62 This process of differentiation and disaggregation without a synthesis at a “higher” level has been noted even amongst the members of the European Community, which was recently found to be “a collection of structures rapidly growing in many directions and each very imperfectly responsive to the behavior of the others.” (Caporaso, James A. and Pelowski, Alan L., “Economic and Political Integration in Europe: A Time-Series Quasi-Experimental Analysis,” this Review, 54 [06 1971], 418433; the passage cited is on p. 433.)

63 I have elsewhere suggested that the devolution of organizational forms described above is resulting in a complex and fundamental reordering of political space and restructuring of public authority across states. Further, I have sought to demonstrate that just as extant theories do not adequately capture contemporary processes of international organization, so extant images do not adequately express their emergent structures. (Ruggie, John Gerard, “The Structure of International Organization: Contingency, Complexity, and Post-Modern Form,” Papers, Peace Research Society International, 18 [1972], 7391.)

* This article is based upon, and is a revised treatment of, parts of a longer paper presented at the 66th Annual Meeting, American Political Science Association, Los Angeles, September 8–12, 1970. I am delighted to acknowledge the contribution of a number of friends, colleagues, and teachers to the thoughts contained herein. In particular, Ernst B. Haas first stimulated and encouraged the work, and, together with Todd R. LaPorte, and Robert Butterworth, gave generously of time and advice during preparation of the original paper; the APSA panel, consisting of Robert W. Cox, Lawrence Scheinman, James Patrick Sewell, and Oran R. Young, provided an exceedingly stimulating and helpful forum within which to discuss the possibilities and limitations of these thoughts; a number of incisive comments by an anonymous referee for this REVIEW are gratefully acknowledged; and the facilities provided by the Institute of International Studies, University of California at Berkeley, are much appreciated as well.

Collective Goods and Future International Collaboration*

  • John Gerard Ruggie (a1)


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