A state's accession to membership in a regional integration scheme implies some level of commitment to cooperate within the institutional framework to affect policy coordination and/or collaboration. Its leaders agree to inform, consult, and consider the preferences of fellow members in the formulation of policy, and/or to promulgate common policy with harmoniously combined or interacting functions or parts. When members' interests are congruent, formal institutions are not required to ensure cooperation. 1 However, occasions are rare when several members' interests completely coincide over multiple issue areas. Thus, as each policy decision arises, member-state leaders must decide whether to comply with the regional policy. What influences and determines these decisions?
Realist and liberal interpretations of international phenomena posit that countries make these decisions within the context of an anarchical world order on the basis of some "rational" designation of objectives and utilitarian assessment of the effectiveness of policy alternatives to bring about the preferred outcomes at acceptable cost. However, rational actor models are based on some relatively circumscribed assumptions. They assume that the decision-making unit's ultimate objective is an absolute or relative improvement in final welfare, and that an "objective" value exists which utility maximizers will assign policy alternatives. The most parsimonious rational actor models of international transactions ignore attitudes toward probability, risk, and loss; ideological considerations; and how time affects decision making. In short, rational actor models ignore subjective aspects of decision making and assume an objective payoff structure imposed by the external