What is it about?
This piece is interested in understanding change in governance systems. It investigates when new clauses are introduced into an international legal system. It examines the appearance of novel environmental clauses in the trade regime, and finds, contrary to expectations, no significant effect of the role of power asymmetry. Instead, it finds that particular conditions--parties with diverse portfolios of prior experience contracting for the first time--are associated with the introduction of novel changes to the system.
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Why is it important?
These findings moderate policy concerns that regimes like trade are too ossified to see further novelty, and orient policy-makers to identifying opportunities for introducing novelty in the 'structural holes' of complex regime networks.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Structural conditions for novelty: the introduction of new environmental clauses to the trade regime complex, International Environmental Agreements Politics Law and Economics, January 2020, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s10784-019-09464-5.
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When do parties introduce novel clauses to a system of contracts or treaties?
While important research has investigated how clauses diffuse once introduced, few empirical studies address their initial introduction. Drawing on network theory, this paper argues that novel clauses are introduced when agreements are concluded in certain structures of earlier agreements and the clauses they include. This paper demonstrates this argument using the example of 282 different environmental clauses introduced into the trade regime complex through 630 trade agreements concluded between 1945 and 2016. We find that trade agreements are more likely to introduce novelties when they involve parties with a diversity of experience with prior environmental clauses and introduce more novelties when more parties are less constrained by prior trade agreements between them. Contrary to prevailing wisdom, power asymmetry between the negotiating parties is not statistically significant.
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