International Organization


Political leadership and regime formation: on the development of institutions in international society

Oran R. Younga1

a1 Research Professor of Government, Senior Fellow of the Dickey Endowment for International Understanding, and Director of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and Senior Fellow of the Center for Northern Studies, Wolcott, Vermont.


Leadership plays a critical but poorly understood role in determining the success or failure of the processes of institutional bargaining that dominate efforts to form international regimes or, more generally, institutional arrangements in international society. An examination of the nature of institutional bargaining serves as a springboard both for pinpointing the role of leadership in regime formation and for differentiating three forms of leadership that regularly come into play in efforts to establish international institutions: structural leadership, entrepreneurial leadership, and intellectual leadership. Because much of the real work of regime formation occurs in the interplay of different types of leadership, the study of interactions among individual leaders is a high priority for those seeking to illuminate the processes involved in the creation of international institutions. Not only does such a study help to explain the conditions under which regimes form or fail to form, but it also provides an opportunity to bring the individual back in to an important area of international affairs.