The Politics of Oil-Producer Cooperation

By Dag Harald Claes | Go to book overview
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4
OPEC as an
International Organization

While the previous chapters discussed the structural conditions for oil‐ producer cooperation, the aim of this chapter is to examine to what extent institutional factors have contributed to changing the behavior of key OPEC members in a more cooperative direction that would otherwise have been the case (see section 1.4).

The institutional factors are applicable only to OPEC members, contrary to the structural aspects discussed in Chapter 2, which were assumed to influence oil producers in general. Thus, the question to be answered is: What aspects of OPEC as an international organization make the members behave more cooperatively than they would in the absence of the institution? 1

In the empirical analysis in section 4.3, six aspects of OPEC as an international organization will be discussed. These aspects are based on a combination of different approaches to the study of institutions. These approaches are dealt with in section 4.1. Section 4.2 briefly describes the organizational characteristics of OPEC.


4.1 Institutional Approaches

Rational Choice and Institutional Constraints

In economics the debate between institutional and neoclassical economists is rooted in a fundamental ontological question of what actually motivates individual behavior, and in a methodological question of how to study the behavior of man. 2 The basic problem for the new institutionalists is the assumption made in neoclassical economics about rational behavior:

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