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The Effects of Structures and Power on State Bargaining Strategies


Heather Elko McKibben is Assistant Professor of Political Science; University of California, Davis; One Shields Avenue; Davis, CA 95616 ( This project was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University, and the field work was supported by grants from the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh and the Institute for Governmental Affairs at the University of California, Davis. I would like to thank Phil Arena, Kyle Joyce, Bob Keohane, John Odell, Ethan Scheiner, Kenneth Schultz, John Scott, Walt Stone, and five anonymous AJPS reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. The data and code necessary for replication are available at the AJPS Dataverse (


When and why will states adopt more (or less) cooperative bargaining strategies? Standard answers to this question focus on the role of state power. Other scholars highlight socialization effects. I argue that in most international negotiations, the institutional bargaining structure will mitigate the effects of power and socialization, and drive state bargaining behavior. Factors highlighted by formal models of international bargaining should therefore best explain the variation in the strategies states adopt. I introduce empirical measures of these abstract concepts, and test their effects against those of power and socialization using an original dataset of state bargaining strategies in the European Union (EU). The results show that structural factors best explain variation in the EU states’ bargaining strategies. I conclude by highlighting the conditions under which these effects should explain state bargaining behavior in other international negotiations, and discuss the implications of this argument for the study of international bargaining.