Chad Rector

Associate professor of political science at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. I write and teach about international relations, international organizations, nuclear proliferation, and Asia. 

2807 N. Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22207
Rowley Hall, Room 1015


New –

China's Strategic Multilateralism, Cambridge University Press. A study of how China decides whether and how to invest in sustaining global governance, with case studies on climate, nuclear proliferation, Central Asia, and international finance.

cambridge listing | amazon listing

In progress -

Contrived Symmetry through the IAEA. In the 1940s-50s the U.S. used multilateralism in regulating nuclear technology to overcome a credibility deficit after it had reneged on previous agreements. In a book project, in progress, I examine the development of the nonproliferation regime through the following 70 years.


Research on international organization


Most of my research is about how states negotiate agreements with each other. In particular I'm interested in situations where those agreements are riskier for some participants than others, and in how states manage agreements despite those unequal risks. 

For a less chatty version of this, see my CV or my Google Scholar profile. If you are flush with cash see my Amazon author page.

Negotiating International Organizations

Outside options matter, because they give parties to an agreement the ability to renegotiate the terms of the agreements after they've been implemented. When risks are unequal, institutional mechanisms that promote flexibility and easy exit can reduce the appeal of cooperation, since unequal dependence raises the risk that, once cooperation has begun, the less-dependent side will renegotiate terms to its advantage. See Contrived Symmetry through the IAEA. In a book project, in progress, I begin with the negotiations in the 1940s-50s over international cooperation to regulate atomic energy and examine the development of the nonproliferation regime through the following 70 years. 

China's Strategic Multilateralism

Coauthored with Scott Kastner and Margaret Pearson. We argue that the strategic setting of each major issue of global concern will influence whether and how China engages constructively in supporting multilateral regimes. Depending on China's exit options and the perception that Chinese contribution to governance might be indispensable, China will be more likely to invest in multilateral institutions, hold up cooperation as a way to secure more favorable terms for itself, or passively accept existing regimes while free-riding on their benefits. 

A 2016 paper in Security StudiesChina in Multilateral Governance, introduces the argument. A 2018 book from Cambridge University Press, China's Strategic Multilateralism, goes into more detail and includes case studies of China's approach to Central Asian security, nuclear proliferation, international financial governance, and climate change.

Federations and National Reunification

States form federations when cooperation would lead them to make unequal investments, making some vulnerable to later renegotiation. Federal unions create contrived symmetry, which solves the contracting problem. States form international organizations when they fundamentally trust each other to refrain from future renegotiation (or when the potential downside of renegotiation is low) and form federations when they mistrust each other. Federations therefore occur when the only realistic alternative is a complete failure of cooperation; federations do not emerge in a linear way from international organizations.    

Book: Federations: The Political Dynamics of Cooperation. The struggles surrounding regional integration projects in Australia, Argentina, Germany, East Africa, and the Caribbean provide evidence for the argument. (AmazonEbookData used in chapters 3 and 4.) 

Some other applications:

Capital Controls in Developed Democracies

The pattern of capital controls policy changes in all continuous OECD democracies since 1950 shows a large effect of partisanship. Coauthored with Scott KastnerAll data and replication files.