In publica commoda

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has awarded Prof. Dr. Anja Jetschke with a three year research grant for the project "Are regional organizations contagious? Diffusion and the institutional design of regional organizations."

Why are there clones of the European Union (EU) in Africa and the Caribbean, i.e. regional organizations that are very similar to the institutional design of the EU? Why has the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) followed the path of integration modeled by the EU? What are the reasons that we find clones of the OSZE in Asia and copies of ASEAN in South Asia? In a nutshell: Are regional organizations infectious? These are questions the research project aims to answer.

Questioning the standard explanations for the design of international institutions, the research project investigates the extent to which institutional designs are determined by processes of diffusion between regional organizations. The project thus systematically surveys the characteristics and content of the founding and/or amending documents of 73 regional organizations. Using quantitative methods, it should be determined whether regional institutions and policies diffuse between regional organizations, and, if so, through which specific mechanisms this spread takes place - Do regional organizations learn from other organizations' experiences or do they simply copy from them to increase their legitimacy? Incentives given by other regional organizations or economic competition: what leads to this "compulsory uniformity"?

The project has immediate relevance: It might explain a central puzzle of comparative regionalism research: Why do some regional organizations establish goals that appear overambitious ('EU clones in Africa') and consequently lead to implementation challenges? The project evaluates the argument that some regional organizations develop a model character for other regional organizations. Moreover, by looking at a factor that has been neglected so far - the interdependence among regional organizations - the project will contribute to the better explanation of the design of international institutions.