• Can global stability be maintained without a “captain at the helm”? How will dilemmas of global collective action be resolved without a hegemon?
  • Are states built or do they just grow?
  • Are the concepts that all open societies possess – the rule of law; enforced property rights; competent and honest bureaucracies; an open economic system; and an open and competitive political system – formed by incremental changes, or are they the results of a cascade of simultaneous changes?
  • In what direction does causality run – from socioecomonic development to institutions, or from institutions to development? Does sequence matter?
  • Why does the gap between the most complex and the simplest forms of economic organization increase over time?
  • Why do interdependency and fierce competition for control of global resources intensify divergent patterns of institutional change?
  • Does regime survival depend on approaching the global efficiency frontier?
  • Given the human propensity for imitation, why do best practices not replicate rapidly?
  • If good institutions that offer accountability, transparency, and predictability are inherent properties of prosperity, why do efforts to transplant them falter?
  • It is easy to identify corruption everywhere and to write about it. Yet so much more compelling is why some countries grow despite corruption, while others do not. How does China build a global system of economic relations with manufacturers and suppliers – yet without institutions that protect property rights, without independent regulators, and with a government that can confiscate property with virtual impunity?



Questions from Dynamics Among Nations

  • What positive forces of attraction will enable China to become the center of a network of developing nations?
  • Will China’s centralized hub-and-spoke network clash with the West’s denser, more decentralized network structure clash as China becomes more important to global trade networks, making difference in network structures the ultimate source of China’s rivalry with the West?
  • How will the ambitions of the Communist Party for local central control affect China’s integration into a global economy it cannot control? Will the limitations imposed by global interdependence change China’s behavior in the international arena? Or will the Chinese Communist Party be able to buck the tide and change the global environment?



Questions from Dynamics Among Nations

  • Is militarism intrinsic to Pakistan’s culture, or is it a response to a particular set of geopolitical opportunities? To what is the Pakistani state adapted, its culture or its environmental niche?
  • Is Japan destined to eventually converge to the beliefs of its larger neighbor in order to gain greater access to the global investment opportunities through linkage with China’s economy?
  • Why was China unprepared to meet the challenge of Europe’s industrialization and global domination, despite being unified under a single emperor for much of its history? Why, in fact, did the Industrial Revolution take place in Europe, and not China?
  • Why were military innovations like the use of gunpowder or cannon – which put the class basis of social order at risk – diffused in Europe but resisted in other world regions, most notably in China, where they originated, and Japan?
  • Both the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg and the late Qing dynasties suffered similar slow and painful declines during roughly the same era. Yet the failures of Hapsburgs did not keep the rest of Europe from moving forward, while the policy failures of the Manchu leaders, who established the Qing dynasty, were to set back the development of China by at least a century. What happened?
  • How did the European aristocracy remain intact as a governing class, exhibiting both continuity and change over a millennium?
  • What common thread is shared by two mysteries of European history: why Napoleon risked his army to attack Russia, and why the British, rather than the more powerful French, settled North America?
  • What patterns of collective learning and knowledge transmission were critical to Western Europe’s divergence from its tribal past and progression toward democratization? How do habits of group communication reflect the pattern of state formation?
  • What patterns of collective learning and knowledge transmission were critical to Western Europe’s divergence from its tribal past and progression toward democratization? How do habits of group communication reflect the pattern of state formation?hy do nations fail?” is the wrong question. Most man-made organizations are destined to fail, but nations, once created, are rarely eliminated and continue to exist long after their institutions fail. Even those ruled badly survive long after their capacity for effective collective action is exposed.


Questions from Dynamics Among Nations

  • Many stable democracies, such as Turkey, India, or Brazil, share few of the values of the liberal West. These countries and others, such as Iran and South Africa, have made the transition to “democracy” but do not emulate the incumbent democracies on a long list of issues. Are they still in “democratic transition”? Will their norms ever align with those of the West? Are today’s hybrid democracies on a trajectory to become liberal democracies, or will they remain hybrids?
  • Will the rise of new centers of cultural and geographic affinity require new rules for global cooperation?
  • Can system stability be maintained when a core group of liberal democracies no longer dominates but is joined or even supplanted by the rising non-Western powers formerly on the periphery of global trade or production? Will a full-blown crisis or authority unfold as the universality of liberal internationalism becomes a more fractious issue?


Hilton L. Root
Professor of Public Policy