Putting behavior into international cooperation

Messner, Dirk / Alejandro Guarin / Daniel Haun
External Publications (2016)

published on The Chinese Journal of Global Governance 2 (2), 129-141


Cooperation among countries to deal with climate change and other global challenges seems almost impossible. However, recent research in the behavioral and evolutionary sciences suggests that people cooperate willingly and perhaps even naturally. Why the contradiction? In this paper we call for the need to think about international relations beyond the assumptions of rational choice and narrow self-interest. We suggest that seemingly intractable international challenges are not only the result of power struggles, but may also reflect the under-provisioning of the key enablers of cooperation – what we call the “cooperation hexagon”: reciprocity, trust, we-identity, enforcement,
communication, reputation and fairness.

About the author

Messner, Dirk

Political Scientist


Further experts

Baumann, Max-Otto

Political Science 

Breuer, Anita

Political Scientist 

Dick, Eva

Sociologist and Spatial Planner 

El-Haddad, Amirah


Haldenwang, Christian von

Political Science 

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Leininger, Julia

Political Scientist 

Morare, Ditebogo Modiegi

Political Science 

Nowack, Daniel

Political Science 

Roll, Michael