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.