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Learning to Dispute: Repeat Participation, Expertise, and Reputation at the World Trade Organization

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This mixed-method analysis examines the effects of repeat participation on disputing at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Differences between disputants in terms of their experience with WTO disputing processes affect the likelihood of a dispute transitioning to a panel review in distinct ways, depending upon the configuration of the parties. More experienced complainants tend to achieve settlements, while more experienced respondents tend to refuse conciliation. Strategies of experienced respondents are derived from the expertise generated from repeated direct participation and the normalcy of disputing for repeat players as well as the benefits accruing from a reputation for being unlikely to settle. Repeat players also seek to avoid disputes expected to produce unfavorable jurisprudence but do not actively try to create new case law through the selection of disputes. This research demonstrates a dynamic learning process in how parties use international legal forums and thus extends sociolegal scholarship beyond the nation-state.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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