rangements set up under the provisions of international agreements and the social practices prevailing within individual member states. Whereas competence is a matter of authority, compatibility concerns standard practices or procedures for handling matters of governance that grow up in political systems over time. Given the decentralized character of international society, there is general agreement on the proposition that member states should be free to implement international commitments within their own jurisdictions in whatever way they choose to do so. But this does not eliminate the problem of institutional compatibility. Consider, by way of illustration, a case in which an international regime calls for the establishment of a system of tradable permits (e.g., permits for exclusive use of bands in the electromagnetic spectrum, permits for extracting minerals from specific sites on the deep seabed, permits for emitting specific quantities of greenhouse gases), while the social practices prevailing within some of the member states are based on the use of command-and-control regulations offering little or no scope for the sorts of incentive mechanisms associated with the creation of tradable permits. To make this concern more concrete, think of the issues now coming into focus with regard to the allocation of slots in the geostationary orbit or bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. For those committed to the proposition that tradable permits are essential to ensure efficiency and, therefore, to secure widespread acceptance of arrangements governing the use of these resources, the advantage of allowing and even promoting the emergence of markets in slots and bands seems beyond doubt. Yet such mechanisms are alien to the political cultures of many countries, and government agencies in these countries are lacking in experience with mechanisms of this sort that would allow them to assimilate such a governance system into familiar and well-understood ways of doing business (Chertow and Esty, 1997; Rose, this volume:Chapter 7; Tietenberg, this volume:Chapter 6).
For its part, capacity is a measure of the availability of the social capital as well as the material resources needed to make good on commitments entered into at the international level (Chayes and Chayes, 1995; Keohane and Levy, 1996). Of course, we are used to paying attention to the problem of capacity in cases where the economic and political systems of developing countries lack the resources needed to shift to alternative technologies (e.g., substitutes for ozone-depleting substances) or to enforce international rules within their jurisdictions (e.g., rules pertaining to trade in endangered species) (Gibson, 1999). But issues of capacity also arise in connection with the actions of advanced industrial countries. In the United States, for instance, international commitments may be treated with benign neglect in cases when no individual agency is willing to take responsibility for their implementation (that is, to become what is known as the lead agency) or when responsible agencies are unable or unwilling to obtain the material resources required to play this role. Consider, in this connection, the contrast between American participation in the regime for Antarctica, where there is no doubt about the role that the National Science Foundation plays as lead agency