NCGG IR Faculty Colloquium: Thomas Hale, Catalytic Cooperation

Apr 18, 2022, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
Simpson Building, Bowl A71
  • Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance
  • Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment
Princeton University students, researchers, and faculty. RSVP required
Event Description

The Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance is hosting Dr. Thomas Hale in their International Relations Faculty Colloquium. C-PREE is co-sponsoring the talk. Please note that the seminar is open to Princeton University community members only.


Scholars typically model the politics of global public goods or common pool resources as difficult collective action problems. Theories of international organization aim to explain how institutions can promote cooperation by solving the free rider problem. Based on an analysis of a quintessential global collective action problem—international climate mitigation—this article challenges both this diagnosis of the problem and the concomitant institutional remedies. Important elements of climate mitigation exhibit three key features that depart from the canonical model: joint goods, preference heterogeneity, and increasing returns. The presence of these features creates the possibility for “catalytic cooperation.” Under such conditions, the chief barrier to cooperation is not the threat of free riding but the lack of incentive to act in the first place. States and other actors seek to solve this problem by creating “catalytic institutions” that work to shift actors’ preferences and strategies toward cooperative outcomes over time. While catalytic institutions can be seen in many areas of world politics, the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change has put this logic of cooperation at its core, raising the possibility that similar catalytic institutions may facilitate cooperation in other areas of world politics characterized by analogous problem structures.

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Thomas Hale’s research explores how we can manage transnational problems effectively and fairly. He seeks to explain how political institutions evolve – or not – to face the challenges raised by globalisation and interdependence, with a particular emphasis on environmental, economic and health issues. He holds a PhD in Politics from Princeton University, a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics, and an AB in public policy from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. Dr. Hale has studied and worked in Argentina, China and Europe. His books include Beyond Gridlock (Polity 2017), Between Interests and Law: The Politics of Transnational Commercial Disputes (Cambridge 2015), Transnational Climate Change Governance (Cambridge 2014), and Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing when We Need It Most (Polity 2013). Dr. Hale leads the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker and co-leads the Net Zero Tracker.