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Paperback | $24.00 Text | £16.95 | ISBN: 9780262514408 | 240 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 3 graphs, 8 tables| July 2010

Of Related Interest

Institutional Dynamics

Emergent Patterns in International Environmental Governance


International environmental regimes—institutional arrangements that govern human-environmental interactions—are dynamic, changing continuously over time. Some regimes go from strength to strength, becoming more effective over the years, while others seem stymied from the beginning. Some regimes start strong, then decline; others are ineffective at first but become successful with the passage of time. In Institutional Dynamics, Oran Young offers the first detailed analysis of these developmental trajectories. Understanding the emergent patterns in environmental governance and how they affect regime effectiveness, he argues, is an important part of solving environmental problems.

Young proposes a framework for analyzing patterns of institutional change based on the alignment of internal, endogenous factors—which include flexibility, monitoring procedures, and funding mechanisms—with such external, exogenous factors as the attributes of environmental problems, the political and economic contexts, and technological innovations. He offers five case studies of environmental regimes, governing environmental problems ranging from climate change to the protection of the Northern Fur Seal, each of which exemplifies one of the emergent patterns he has identified: progressive development, punctuated equilibrium, arrested development, diversion, and collapse.

About the Author

Oran R. Young is Professor and Codirector of the Program on Governance for Sustainable Development at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, sponsored by the International Council Of Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and the United Nations University (UNU). He is the author of The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change: Fit, Interplay, and Scale (2002) and coeditor (with Leslie A. King and Heike Schroeder) of Institutions and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers (2008), both published by the MIT Press.

Table of Contents

  • Institutional Dynamics
  • Earth System Governance: A Core Research Project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change
  • Frank Biermann and Oran R. Young, series editors
  • Institutional Dynamics: Emergent Patterns in International Environmental Governance
  • Oran R. Young
  • Related books from Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change: A Core Research Project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change
  • Institutions and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers
  • Oran R. Young, Leslie A. King, and Heike Schroeder, editors
  • Managers of Global Change: The Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies
  • Frank Biermann and Bernd Siebenhüner, editors
  • Institutional Dynamics
  • Emergent Patterns in International Environmental Governance
  • Oran R. Young
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • For information about special quantity discounts, please e-mail
  • This book was set in Sabon by
  • Graphic Composition, Inc
  • .
  • [COMP: Fill in above.]
  • Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Young, Oran R.
  • Institutional dynamics : emergent patterns in international environmental governance / Oran R. Young.
  •  p. cm. — (Earth system governance, a core research project of the international human dimensions programme on global environmental change)
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01438-0 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-262-51440-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Environmental policy—International cooperation. 2. Environmental protection—International cooperation. I. Title.
  • JZ1324.Y68 2010
  • 333.7—dc22
  • 2009046142
  • {Comp: Set the above line flush right}
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • To Linda and Jamie
  • The next generation in the quest for a better world
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • xi
  • 1 Emergent Patterns:
  • Concepts and Hypotheses
  • 1
  • 2 Progressive Development:
  • The Regime for Stratospheric Ozone
  • 23
  • 3 Punctuated Equilibrium:
  • The Antarctic Treaty System
  • 53
  • 4 Arrested Development:
  • The Climate Regime
  • 83
  • 5 Diversion:
  • The Regime for Whales and Whaling
  • 117
  • 6 Collapse:
  • The Regime for Northern Fur Seals
  • 147
  • 7 Toward a Theory of Institutional Change:
  • Accomplishments and Challenges
  • 171
  • Notes
  • 193
  • References
  • 195
  • Index
  • 207



"This book breaks new ground in analyzing the dynamics of change in environmental institutions while offering the same impressive theoretical creativity, conceptual precision, and broad learning that we expect from the work of Oran Young. It is a valuable piece of work, and I expect to make use of it in both my research and teaching."
Edward A. Parson, Joseph L. Sax Collegiate Professor of Law, Professor of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

"Institutional Dynamics makes a very convincing, and truly novel, argument that we need to take two steps back (both analytically and temporally) to look at the 'broad sweep' of institutions to be able to see how international environmental regimes change over time. Young is surely the best-placed scholar in the field to build the 'big-think' type of argument this book puts forth."
Ronald Mitchell, Professor of Political Science, University of Oregon

"Young's book is a creative theory-building effort as well as a fresh reinterpretation of five well-known case studies in the history of international environmental law. With Young's guiding hand and prolific scholarship, the study of international environmental regimes has evolved from early questions such as whether these institutions matter at all and how they form to today's research frontier, which is the search for theories that explain dynamic patterns and evolution."
David G. Victor, Professor, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego