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Title: Playing different games : West African and European perspectives on negotiating economic partnership agreements
Author: Weinhardt, Clara
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the reasons for persistent impasses encountered in the negotiations to achieve so-called ' Economic Partnership Agreements' between the EU and West Africa by drawing on the analysis of strategic interaction. I argue that in order to fully understand the failure to reach an agreement during more than eight years of negotiations we need to go beyond conventional rationalist approaches that rely on game-theoretical in sights. Instead of presuming that the so-called ' rules of the game' are common knowledge among the actors, I conceive of bargaining processes as a space to (re)negotiate the 'games' played by states in the first place. To systematise how disagreement at the level of the rules of the game affects strategic interaction and the cooperation issues faced by states, the thesis introduces the conceptual model of a 'Battle over Games'. Such a constructivist-informed approach relates the choice of 'sub-optimal' bargaining strategies to the possibility of divergent interpretations of the rules rather than a lack of in fol1natioll. Moreover, it sees identity-based conflicts around values and beliefs rather than merely functional collective action problems as important obstacles to cooperation. I argue that divergent normative convictions about which 'game' ought to be played can lead to a hardening of negotiating positions that prolongs impasse situations. The main empirical argument presented is that different understandings about the rules of the game operative in trade negotiations with a 'development dimension' underpinned the cooperation partners' inability and unwillingness to reconcile their conflicting interests. Examining two different negotiating periods (2002-2007 and 2008-2010) allows us to assess how the emergence and persistence of the impasse can be understood through the lens of the actors' subjectively different understandings of the 'game' they were playing. I, firstly, argue that the EU and the West African side's ill-conceived strategy choices in the first negotiating period were related to the divergent interpretations of the development framing of the trade negotiations, Secondly, I develop the argument that the persistence of opposing positions was ultimately sustained by a value conflict over whether to pursue procedural or substantive equality in these trade negotiations, and divergent beliefs about how best to foster economic development. The thesis concludes with a summary of the research findings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available