Pros and Cons of Institutional Complexity: The Case of Arctic Governance

In Svein Vigeland Rottem and Ida Folkestad Soltvedt (eds), Arctic Governance: Law and Politics. Volume 1. London, I.B. Tauris, 2017, pp. 45-71.

This chapter argues that Arctic institutional complexity follows inevitably from the enmeshment of Arctic change in wider environmental, economic and political processes, and that such complexity neither signals nor promotes inter-state discord. Instead, institutional complexity offers certain advantages over a unified structure, including less vulnerability to setbacks in any single cooperative process and better opportunities for reaping cooperative gains whenever the sets of relevant, or cooperatively inclined, actors vary across issue-areas. Exploiting such advantages, however, and avoiding disruptive institutional interplay, requires that states and others are aware of potential interaction and engage in interplay management: deliberate efforts to improve the quality of institutional interplay.