The Forces of Attraction: How Security Interests Shape Membership in Economic Institutions


Multilateral institutions manage interdependence among states as they seek mutual gains from cooperation. But access to institutions is closely guarded by states, which exploit membership discrimination to exclude rivals and confer benefits to favored partners. We argue that bargaining over accession facilitates linkages between security interests and other issue areas regulated by institutions. Our argument departs from the functional expectation that states choose partners who offer the greatest gains from policy adjustment, and instead highlights the role of geopolitical alignment. Analyzing membership patterns for 89 multilateral economic organizations, we find that security ties
shape which states join and remain in organizations. We use a finite mixture model to examine the relative importance of economic and security considerations, finding that geopolitical alignment accounts for about half of the membership decisions in economic institutions. The geopolitical origins of IGO membership represent a new mechanism connecting the security and economic behavior of states.
Last updated on 07/01/2019