Cooperation theory and the Northern Ireland peace process
in Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland
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The eleventh chapter assesses the utility of cooperation theory to explain the peace process in Northern Ireland. This theory stresses the interconnectedness of leaders’ decision-making and the complexity associated with the emergence of cooperation. This theoretical approach stresses the possibility of actors learning to cooperate with others who have differing or competing interests, thus, emphasizing adaptive rather than rational policy-making. Negotiators representing different states and groups in Northern Ireland came to their decisions and policy choices based on the expected reaction of others. The complexity of this interaction came to be appreciated by the actors themselves. While historically cooperation theory explained state behaviour, the cooperation that led to the signing and implementation of the Agreement required a pattern of coordinated cooperation among numerous actors, including historic rivals.

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