Extensions And Applicability

This study is neither a panacea for all of the problems that plague the study of global governance, nor (more positively) are the insights and approach restricted to the cases of ozone depletion and climate change. Let me briefly discuss some caveats before turning to questions of general applicability.

First, this study uses the insights of complex adaptation extensively and although approaching global governance through the lenses of complex adaptive systems was fruitful, the analysis was truncated in multiple ways. The NLC/CAS framework is a simple structure, but it requires thick, detailed, empirical analysis for testing. Because connections between interacting agents, who are themselves composed of interacting agents, drive the emergence of structures and outcomes, studying these relationships empirically is no trivial task. In this book, I bracketed much of the complex system I was studying in order to keep the task to a manageable size. A full investigation of the emergence of the universal participation norm would require that I explore multiple states as agents, and further explore each of those states as complex systems as well.

Similarly, I bracketed many additional factors that influenced the governance of ozone depletion and climate change. The global response to these problems is in some ways massively overdetermined. Scientific knowledge, domestic politics, NGO actions, individual actions, economic pressures, and more all played a role in defining the global governance of ozone depletion and climate change. The claim here is that social norms of participation fundamentally influenced much of how these other factors played out. The claim is not that participation norms are enough to explain the entirety of the governance process.

Second, moving from a verbal framework to a simple computational model was merely the first step in the recursive process described above. Further steps (not taken in this study) entail using the results of the empirical analysis to inform theory building (on norm contestation and slippage) and further modeling efforts. Especially important are efforts at adding nuance to the Pick a Number model in order to make it even more representative of the norm life cycle process. Chapter 4 listed a number of social characteristics missing from the Pick a Number model. The next step is to begin incorporating those characteristics and improve both the modeling and empirical analysis of norms and global environmental governance activities.

These caveats notwithstanding, this analysis is applicable to multiple issues—environmental or otherwise. The process of constructing a "global" response is important in the study of global governance precisely because global can have a variety of meanings.10 There are many "global" issues that do not require universal participation in the efforts toward solving or managing them. Monetary issues are certainly global in scope, but they are not universal issues—a small group of states deals with them. Similarly, poverty finds its causes and effects throughout the world, but this global problem has never "required" concerted universal action. The scope of a problem does not determine the political response. Instead, political responses are always steeped in historical context. Understanding how actors come to hold a common understanding of a problem or issue through interaction and mutual constitution is a crucial first step in understanding/explaining the process of rule construction at the heart of global governance.

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