Big Science communities have been remarkably effective in evolving complex processes and mechanisms to enable international collaborations. Major powers such as the People's Republic of China, Russia and the USA, who are fierce rivals in other domains, form lasting alliances. Three of the most relevant case examples are the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) community, the International Thermonuclear Experiential Reactor (ITER) nuclear fusion project community and the International Space Station (ISS) community. Beyond Gridlock theory identifies eight pathways through and beyond gridlock and their mechanisms. It is through the combination of these pathways that international collaborations can be initiated, maintained and delivered. Extensive field work in each of the three case study communities reveal winning combinations of pathways for Big Science collaborations. Shifts in major powers’ core interests and multiple, diverse organisations and institutions coalescing around common goals emerge as the two core pathways. They are supported in their implementation by two enabling pathways: innovative leadership and innovative funding. The relationship between all four provides clues on mechanisms that can be used to good effect in other international relations domains that are caught up in the debilitating global gridlock phenomenon.
- Inter‐Governmental Organizations (IGOs) should examine the extent that Big Science communities provide models of consensual governance by employing combinations of pathway enabling mechanisms to manage multi‐polarity actively, effectively and consistently with their Member States.
- IGOs should examine how the leadership of Big Science communities utilise a light‐touch approach with their international collaborative partners.
- International relations scholars, diplomats, negotiators and management teams involved in major international collaborations should explore whether the Big Science use of ‘shifts in major power’s core interests’ and ‘multiple, diverse organisations and institutions coalescing around common goals/norms’ aided by supporting pathways of ‘innovative leadership’ and ‘innovative funding’ can help overcome gridlock between Member States in other domains.
- International relations scholars, diplomats, negotiators and management teams involved in major international collaborations should consider this research as a contribution to the global gridlock debate by being part of the examination of pathways and mechanisms in successful international collaborations.