Would existing norms be vulnerable to degeneration due to the noncompliance behavior of some members, especially that of norm entrepreneurs? Standard accounts of norm studies focus on the negative influences of norm noncompliance on norm diffusion. This article starts with a critical thinking about norm noncompliance and argues that norm noncompliance, as well as norm compliance, constitutes a normal and necessary part of our social system. It develops hypotheses on why and how norm noncompliance leads to norm diffusion. To illustrate this argument, it takes free trade norms as a case to explore the different attitudes held by the United States, European Union (EU), and China. China has been motivated by US noncompliance behaviors to take the lead in diffusing free trade norms, while the EU tries to prevent China from taking the championship, which combined have promoted the diffusion of free trade norms.


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pp. 839-860
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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