Main Argument: Authors look at how international institutions operate and how they relate to the problems states face. Grounded in the broad tradition of rational-choice analysis, is that states use international institutions to further their own goals, and they design institutions accordingly. Their main goal is to offer a systematic account of the wide range of design features that characterize international institutions and the implications of our basic presumption that states construct and shape institutions to advance their goals.
International Institutions: as explicit arrangements, negotiated among international actors, that prescribe, proscribe, and/or authorize behaviour (Keohane 1984; and Young 1994)
Method: investigate the rational design approach by developing a set of theoretically based conjectures, which are then evaluated empirically in the studies in this special issue of International Organization. The authors relax some key assumptions of cooperation theory and then bring in institutions directly by incorporating insights from game theory and institutional analysis.
== Notes ==
Five key dimensions within which institutions may vary:
Membership rules (MEMBERSHIP): Who is a part of it
Scope of issues covered (SCOPE): What issues are covered [continuum of issue coverage]
Centralization of tasks (CENTRALIZATION): Are institutional tasks performed by a single focal entity
Rules for controlling the institution (CONTROL): How will collective decisions be made? [distinguish control from centralization]
Flexibility of arrangements (FLEXIBILITY): How will institutional rules and procedures accommodate new circumstances?
1. Rational design: States and other international actors, acting for self-interested reasons, design institutions purposefully to advance their joint interests
2. Shadow of the future: The value of future gains is strong enough to support a cooperative arrangement
3. Transaction costs: Establishing and participating in international institutions is costly
4. Risk aversion: States are risk-averse and worry about possible adverse effects when creating or modifying international institutions
– Design principles may conflict with one another 
– Analysis looks at individual institutional arrangements in isolation