Tobias Lenz

Tobias Lenz

Professor of International Relations
Leuphana University of Lüneburg

Professor of International Relations, with a focus on international organizations

Tobias Lenz is a Professor of International Relations at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg and on sabbatical at the European University Institute in Florence during the academic year 2023/24. Previously, I worked as an Assistant Professor (Juniorprofessor) at the University of Göttingen and the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence and a postdoctoral fellow at the Free University of Amsterdam. Tobias holds an M.Phil in Politics and a D.Phil in International Relations, both from Oxford University.

Research interests: international organizations and comparative regionalism

My research interests encompass international organizations (IOs) and the comparative study of regional integration processes.

I study how IOs are structured institutionally, how institutional structures vary across IOs and over time, and what the dynamics of institutional evolution in IOs are. At the moment, I am particularly interested in the impact of institutional overlap on IO design and the trade-offs that exist between different design objectives.

I am also leading a five-year Leibniz Junior Research Group, which examines the dynamics of self-legitimation in regional IOs. One finding emerging from this research is that IO self-legitimation is not merely a reaction to relevant audiences’ normative demands, but also reflects the norms held by IO representatives and those embedded in the wider organizational environment.

In ongoing research in the field of comparative regionalism, I examine diffusion processes among regional IOs as well as the role of the European Union in such processes, from both an analytical and a normative perspective.

Sabbatical at the EUI

Sabbatical at the EUI

During the academic year 2023/24, I am spending a sabbatical at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence.

New JEPP article on IO diffusion

New JEPP article on IO diffusion

In this piece in the Journal of European Public Policy, Mariel Reiss and I show how IO policy-makers innovate institutionally by selecting between, combining and modifying institutions from different external sources. Our empirical case is the East African Community.

Research Projects

Legitimation Strategies of Regional Organizations (LegRO)

Confronted with contestation and critique, IOs seek to enhance audiences’ beliefs in their legitimacy by justifying their governance competence through public communication and the change of institutions and behaviour. This Leibniz Junior Research Group seeks to map and explain the sources and consequences of legitimation strategies in regional organizations over time.

Current Courses

Introduction to International Relations

International politics is a key subject of daily news: from the Russian invasion of Ukraine via the strategic rivalry between the United States and China or the international spread of the coronavirus to the diplomatic haggling in large international negotiations,...

Constructivism as a Social Theory

Constructivism is a perspective in the social sciences that highlights the constructed nature of social reality. This seminar introduces students to the core ontological, epistemological and theoretical assumptions of Constructivism and acquaints them with the variety...

Democracy and International Relations

From a normative and empirical perspective, this seminar addresses the question to what extent international relations, and in particular ​​international cooperation, are based and should be based on the principles of democratic legitimacy. We review the classic and...