Abstract: We examine how conflict framing and multilateral leadership influence coalition formation among World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations. We hypothesize that complainants’ framing of alleged violations and leadership in global governance affects WTO members’ propensity to form coalitions by joining disputes as third parties. After introducing new measures for quantifying framing and leadership, we analyze 308 product-related trade disputes (1995-2011). We find economically significant effects for framing and leadership on the likelihood that trading partners join disputes and on the chances of reaching negotiated or litigated settlements. We discuss scholarly, managerial, and policy implications for forming coalitions and resolving disputes.
Keywords: dispute resolution, trade flows, governance, framing, coalitions