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By Bruce Cronin

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7 Applying a game theory approach, Jervis argues that changes in the payoff structure to favor cooperation and differences in the potential gains from cooperation help to explain the concert. 8 Simply put, there was an increase in gains from cooperation and a decrease in gains from exploitation. In cooperation theory terms, the explanatory variables are tit-for-tat strategies of reciprocity and an increase in the shadow of the future. 9 Tit-for-tat strategies might be able to account for the ability of the great powers to overcome mistrust and collective action problems, however, cooperation theories do not explain why the great powers would wish to pool their resources to facilitate collective management in the first place.

Thus the Concert of Europe and the Holy Alliance are “hard cases” for theories of transnational identity since there were so many factors working against group cohesion and great power unity. 6 While balance of power theory can explain why Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia would temporarily cast aside their rivalries to join the Quadruple Alliance against Napoleon, it cannot explain why this close collaboration persisted long after France was defeated. Political scientists have traditionally attributed this phenomenon to three primary causes: war weariness, strategies of reciprocity, and ideological similarity.

There is no evidence that these standards of behavior were imposed on the group by either Britain or Russia, the two dominant powers. It is not even clear why such norms would reflect their interests apart from a belief in group solidarity. Nor is there any indication that the five powers explicitly negotiated them for some functional purpose. Moreover, they were not codified as legal rules but rather developed over time through ongoing practice, in particular through the interactions of the great powers at Vienna and Aix-la-Chapelle.

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Community Under Anarchy Transnational Identity and the Evolution of Cooperation by Bruce Cronin


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