The NLC framework further hypothesizes that after the transition from North-only to universal participation in the ozone depletion negotiations, the observed lock in that influenced the early climate change negotiations arose through internalization—the fourth stage of the NLC.
In the internalization stage, the new idea becomes an intersubjective reality—it becomes natural and locked in. This is hypothesized to have occurred between the ozone depletion negotiations and the climate change negotiations. Universal participation becomes an ingrained part of agent rule models—constituting identities, interests, and behaviors. The new norm will become ingrained and natural as its dictates are followed and positive feedback reinforces the actions taken. Once multiple agents have been persuaded or socialized to include a new rule in their internal models, that rule must produce behavior that is positively evaluated or the rule will not continue to be used and the norm will erode. Through positive evaluation or increasing returns, action based on the rule model (or norm) becomes habit and the view of the world embedded in the norm becomes taken for granted. As this happens the rule becomes more and more immune to negative evaluation.
Evaluation is again crucial. John Holland and other complexity theorists who utilize internal rule models when modeling rely significantly on agent evaluations of their own behavior.89 However, as noted above, complex adaptation does not specify how evaluation occurs in all issues or systems and instead allows for flexibility. Holland discusses the method of picking internal rule models as credit assignment—essentially, a rule that produces a "good" outcome for an agent is assigned credit, and the more credit a rule has, the more likely an agent is to utilize the rule in similar situations.90 In computer simulation applications of complex adaptation, evaluation of outcomes is a fairly straightforward matter, as most deal with quantifiable criteria for "goodness" and thus the agents in computer models need only be able to add and compare numbers to evaluate outcomes.
In contrast, in international relations evaluation is an oft-complicated political process whereby a multitude of actors within the agent in question attempt to induce both their own judgment about the outcome and their own picture of the social/political reality (rules to be included in the internal model of the agent). Domestic political process is the key determinant of evaluation for states. Actors such as NGOs, the EPA, Dupont, and Congress all evaluate outcomes for the United States.91
After an event, for instance the signing of an international environmental agreement, these actors decide whether or not the outcome was positive or negative and they attempt to convince the state that their judgment is valid—via persuasion or coercion or some other mechanism.92
These attempts are filtered through domestic political institutions and rules. For instance, when environmental NGOs try to persuade the United States that an agreement was good or bad for the environment their arguments go through established channels (i.e., hearings, formal consultations, letter-writing campaigns, etc.) and their arguments interact with the interests/judgments of the agencies charged with formulating U.S. policy positions (rule models).93
In judging the outcomes, these internal actors and external actors (UNEP other states, international NGOs) also advocate for the appropriateness of their perception of the world—a set of rules. They are attempting to alter or reify the agent's internal rule model. Once a judgment on the value of the environmental agreement is reached, the agent revises or reifies her internal rule model based on the evaluations of the subagents. The subagents present different views on rules to incorporate in the agent's model or which rules currently in the agent's rule model should be active or if the agent should take the suggestion of the norm entrepreneur.94 Evaluations weaken or strengthen rule models and persuade (or socialize, or coerce, or suggest) the state to reinforce or alter its rule model.
In the climate change case, the NLC hypothesizes that positive evaluation during the ozone depletion process strengthened the universal participation rule, leading to internalization and lock in. The United States and the international community thus approached climate change with universal global response because the internalized universal participation norm determined states' understandings of the problem.
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