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).