In this article in International Studies Quarterly, Alex Burilkov, Lora Viola and I interpret the establishment of regional parliaments as a legitimation strategy of governments that is driven primarily by cognitive factors. Open access.
How and under what conditions does legitimacy affect processes of international institutional change? This article specifies and evaluates three causal mechanisms by which variation in legitimacy induces institutional change in international organizations (IOs), and argues that an important, yet hitherto neglected, source of legitimacy-based change is cognitive in nature. Using survival analysis, we evaluate these mechanisms with a novel dataset on the establishment of parliamentary institutions in 36 regional organizations between 1950 and 2010. We find that the empowerment of supranational secretariats, engagement with the European Union and parliamentarization in an organization’s neighborhood increase the likelihood of regional parliamentarization. This suggests that legitimacy judgments that draw on cognitive referents provide an important source of international institutional change. We illustrate the underlying cognitive emulation mechanism with a case study of parliamentarization in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
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