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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Global Context and Regional Content: Comparative Area Studies and Multi-Dimensional Interregionalism

Comparative Politics
European Union
International Relations
Comparative Perspective
Lukas Maximilian Müller
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Lukas Maximilian Müller
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Jürgen Rüland
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

The recent proliferation of regional organizations has facilitated a progressive vertical differentiation of global governance. One of the new layers in the increasingly complex international institutional architecture is inter-regionalism, that is, the intensified interaction between regional organizations. So far, we know that inter-regionalism appears in diverse formats including bi-regionalism, trans-regionalism and hybrid inter-regionalism and that these fora perform a range of functions consisting of balancing, institution-building, rationalizing the operation of global institutions, agenda setting, and identity building. Yet, little research has been conducted on the relationship between the institutional design and performance of these inter-regional arrangements. It has recently become apparent that inter-regional institutions often exist in nested arrangements. While this occurs in multiple cases, the institutional context and the policy issues deliberated in these fora are highly specific to the relationship in question. By comparing inter-regional arrangements of the EU with regional partners in Asia and Africa, we expect Comparative Area Studies (CAS) to tangibly contribute to the development of a middle-range theory of inter-regional institutionalization. CAS provides us with the conceptual and methodological tools for the context-sensitive identification of the structural similarities and differences facilitating (inter)regional dialogue and cooperation. We propose an incremental three-layered model of inter-regional analysis including (1) the constellation of intra-regional actors and their choices regarding inter-regional institutions; (2) the design of these institutions according to the five functions of inter-regionalism; and (3) the involvement of extra-regional actors and their impact on the nesting of institutions.
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