My research engages with questions about the emergence and consequences of institutions, a term understood broadly, in the international realm. I am interested in understanding how, why and when actors create new or change existing institutions in order to address problems that cross international borders, and whether, how and when these institutions shape cooperative outcomes. Theoretically, I take a particular interest in sociological approaches that conceive of strategic action as historically and socially embedded, and in diffusion approaches that comprehend decisionmaking as interdependent across units of analysis. My substantive interest concerns international governmental organizations, especially of the regional type. I also take an interest in the foreign policy of the European Union. My work is mainly comparative in scope, and I employ both qualitative and quantitative methods.
In my current research, I analyze
I am also working on a book length study.
EU Influence on Regional Institutional Design
This book project, which builds upon and extends my doctoral dissertation, concerns the influence of the European Union on the design of regional institutions. For several decades, the EU has been the most active and powerful promoter of regional integration around the world. It negotiates cooperation and trade agreements with regional organizations, engages in interregional political dialogues and lends financial and technical assistance to strengthen regional institutions. At the same time, the EU is widely considered the pioneer and most successful example of regional economic integration in the world today, notwithstanding the current Euro crisis. Yet, there is little research that systematically assesses the influence of the ‘EU model’ on other regional organizations.
This project therefore has three aims. First, it identifies the pathways through which the EU’s institutional model affects regional institutional design elsewhere by drawing on the burgeoning literature on diffusion. Second, it develops a series of testable propositions on the conditions under which EU diffusion is likely to matter. Third, it tests these propositions based on a mixed methods design that combines large-N quantitative analysis and several in-depth case studies on specific episodes of institutional change in Mercosur, the Southern African Development Community and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The project promises to advance our theoretical understanding of processes of institutional design and evolution, on the impact of the EU in world politics, and on the drivers of regional cooperation. It also has major policy relevance.
This project was supported by a research grant from the Daimler and Benz Foundation (2015-2018).
I have recently started a new research project entitled "The Authority of International Organizations and Institutional Overlap".
The project examines the relationship between the institutional authority of international organizations (IOs) and the dynamics of institutional overlap by asking two questions: What are the implications of differences in IO authority for institutional overlap? And given conditions of institutional overlap, which IO characteristics lead to more or less authority?
In cooperation with Yoram Haftel (Hebrew University Jerusalem), these questions are approached through quantitative analyses and case studies of overlap among international/regional organizations in Africa.
More information on the project can be found here.
PhD student: Mona Saleh (University of Goettingen)
I have recently started a Leibniz Junior Research Group on "Sources and Consequences of Legitimation Strategies of Regional Organizations" (LegRO).
The Research Group will study (1) how state representatives and regional organization bureaucrats justify an organization’s right to rule to relevant internal and external audiences; (2) why such discursive legitimation strategies may change over time and vary across organizations; and (3) whether and how they are related to institutional legitimation strategies.
Find more information on the project under "LegRO."
The European Union (EU) is widely considered the most successful example of regional cooperation, and it is an active promoter of such processes around the world. This project studies the pathways through which, and the conditions under which, the EU influences the institutional design of regional organizations around the world.
Measurement of International Authority (MIA) dataset available under "Data".
International organizations (IOs) display significant variation in their institutional design: some have a diversified institutional architecture, others are fairly simple in their institutional organization; some make decisions by consensus, others use majoritarian decision-making rules; some appear to be relatively fixed in their institutional structure, while others change considerably over time. This cooperative project, together with Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks (UNC Chapel Hill, US) proposes a new measure to gauge variation in IO institutional design and offers a theory of international organization that is centered on the tension between scale and community.
The results of this project are published in two volumes by Oxford University Press. The first one of those, outlining the measurement of international authority, was published in 2017; the second volume, explaining and testing our theory, is forthcoming in 2019.