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Explaining Cooperation under Anarchy: Hypotheses and Strategies

Kenneth A. Oye
World Politics
Vol. 38, No. 1 (Oct., 1985), pp. 1-24
DOI: 10.2307/2010349
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2010349
Page Count: 24
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Explaining Cooperation under Anarchy: Hypotheses and Strategies
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Abstract

What circumstances favor the realization of mutual interests in the absence of centralized authority? And through what strategies can nations foster the emergence of cooperation by altering the circumstances that they confront? Elementary game theory suggests three sets of conditions that serve as proximate explanations of the incidence of cooperation and discord: (1) Payoff Structure: Mutual and Conflicting Preferences; (2) The Shadow of the Future: Single-play and Iterated Games; and (3) Number of Players: Two-Person and N-Person Games. Each of these three attributes of context may be subject to willful modification. Nations may create the preconditions for cooperation through strategies to alter payoffs, lengthen the shadow of the future, and reduce the number of actors required to realize limited mutual interests.

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