World Politics

Research Article

Global Communications and National Power: Life on the Pareto Frontier

Stephen D. Krasner*

Regime analysis has focused on issues of market failure, the resolution of which depends upon knowledge and institution building. Global communications regimes, however, have been concerned either with issues of pure coordination or with coordination problems with distributional consequences. Outcomes have been decided by the underlying distribution of national power. In those areas where power was asymmetrically distributed and there was no agreement on basic principles and norms—radio broadcasting and remote sensing—no regime was formed. In those areas where distributional issues could not be unilaterally resolved—allocation of the radio spectrum and telecommunications—regimes were created, although both principles and rules changed with alterations in national power capabilities.

Stephen D. Krasner is Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and the editor of International Organization. His most recent monograph is Asymmetries in Japanese-American Trade (1987).

* I would like to thank Peter Cowhey, John Ferejohn, Robert Jervis, Robert Keohane, Terry Moe, and especially William Drake, who is also especially absolved of any responsibility for the conclusions of this paper.