Skip to main content Accessibility help

Is There a Broader-Deeper Trade-off in International Multilateral Agreements?

  • Michael J. Gilligan (a1)


It is commonly thought that there is a trade-off between the breadth and depth of multilateral institutions—that is, multilaterals that are more inclusive in their memberships will necessarily be shallower in their level of cooperation. Using a multilateral bargaining model with self-seeking rational actors, I show that such a trade-off does not exist for a broad class of multilateral cooperation problems. The conclusion that there is a broader-deeper trade-off follows from the assumption that the members of the multilateral must set their policies at an identical level. The multilateral agreement modeled in this article allows states to set their policies at different levels. Once this change is made, there is no broader-deeper trade-off, a finding that has obvious empirical and policy implications. It explains why some regimes are created with fairly large memberships at the outset, and it calls into question the policy prescription of limiting membership of multilateral institutions to a small group of committed cooperators for the class of cooperation problems modeled in this article.I am indebted to the editor, an anonymous reviewer, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, William Clark, Eric Dickson, Catherine Hafer, Charles Holt, Marek Kaminski, Dimitri Landa, Antonio Merlo, Robert Powell, Adam Przeworski, Ann Sartori, Shanker Satyanath, Randall Stone, and the participants at seminars at Rutgers and University of California-Berkeley in May and October 2000, respectively, for comments on earlier drafts of this work. I thank Jon Preimesberger for editorial assistance. All errors remain my responsibility.



Hide All


Alesina, Alberto, and Vittorio Grilli. 1994. On the Feasibility of One-Speed or Multispeed European Monetary Union. In The Political Economy of European Monetary Unification, edited by Barry Eichengreen and Jeffry Frieden, 10727. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Austen-Smith, David, and Jeffrey Banks. 1988. Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes. American Political Science Review 82 (2):40522.
Austen-Smith, David, and Jeffrey Banks. 1990. Stable Governments and the Allocation of Policy Portfolios. American Political Science Review 84 (3):891906.
Banks, Jeffrey S., and John Duggan. 2000. A Bargaining Model of Collective Choice. American Political Science Review 94 (1):7388.
Baron, David. 1991. A Spatial Bargaining Theory of Government Formation in Parliamentary Systems. American Political Science Review 85 (1):13764.
Baron, David, and John Ferejohn. 1989. Bargaining in Legislatures. American Political Science Review 83 (4):11811206.
Benedick, Richard Eliot. 1991. Ozone Diplomacy: New Directions in Safeguarding the Planet. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Conybeare, John. 1987. Trade Wars: The Theory and Practice of International Commercial Rivalry. New York: Columbia University Press.
Diermeier, Daniel, and Antonio Merlo. 2000. Government Turnover in Parliamentary Democracies. Journal of Economic Theory 94 (1):4679.
Diermeier, Daniel, Antonio Merlo, and Hulya Eraslan. 2003. A Structural Model of Government Formation. Econometrica 71 (1):27104.
Downs, George W., David M. Rocke, and Peter N. Barsoom. 1998. Managing the Evolution of Multilateralism. International Organization 52 (2):397419.
Eichengreen, Barry, and Jeffry Frieden. 1994. The Political Economy of European Monetary Unification: An Analytical Introduction. In The Political Economy of European Monetary Unification, edited by Barry Eichengreen and Jeffry Frieden, 123. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Fearon, James D. 1998. Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation. International Organization 52 (2):269306.
Ferejohn, John A., and Morris P. Fiorina. 1974. The Paradox of Not Voting: A Decision Theoretic Analysis. American Political Science Review 68 (2):52536.
Gardner, Richard N. 1980. Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy: Anglo-American Collaboration in the Reconstruction of Multilateral Trade. New York: Columbia University Press.
Goeree, Jacob K., and Charles A. Holt. 2003. An Explanation of Anomalous Behavior in Binary-Choice Games: Entry, Voting, Public Goods, and the Volunteers' Dilemma. Unpublished manuscript, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Available at 〈〉. Accessed 24 March 2004.
Jackson, John H. 1997. The World Trading System: Law and Policy of International Economic Relations, 2d ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Kahler, Miles. 1992. Multilateralism with Small and Large Numbers. International Organization 46 (3):681708.
London, Tamar R., Branislav L. Slantchev, and Randall W. Stone. 2003. A Theory of International Cooperation. Unpublished manuscript, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York. Cited with permission.
Merlo, Antonio. 1997. Bargaining Over Governments in a Stochastic Environment. Journal of Political Economy 105 (1):10131.
Osborne, Martin, and Ariel Rubinstein. 1990. Bargaining and Markets. New York: Academic Press.
Pahre, Robert. 1994. Multilateral Cooperation in an Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. Journal of Conflict Resolution 38 (2):32652.
Pahre, Robert. 1995. Wider and Deeper: The Links Between Expansion and Integration in the European Union. In Towards a New Europe: Stops and Starts in Regional Integration, edited by Gerald Schneider, Patricia A. Weitsman, and Thomas Bernauer, 11136. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
Palfrey, Thomas, and Howard Rosenthal. 1984. Participation and Provision of Discrete Public Goods: A Strategic Analysis. Journal of Public Economics 24 (2):17193.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed