International organizations (IOs) are a modern reflection of the human desire to mitigate the constraints of anarchy in a sovereign state-based international system and to address problems that cross national borders. In my research I try to understand the institutional and normative structure of international organizations (IOs), with a particular focus on those that are regional in scope. Why are IOs designed in specific ways, and when and why do they change? What norms and values do IOs embody and espouse? And how are IOs legitimised in public discourse? In seeking to answer questions such as these, I engage with broader puzzles about the emergence and change of institutions, norms and discourses in the international realm. I also take an interest in the foreign policy of the European Union.

Theoretically, I approach IOs not merely as rational-functional responses to collective action dilemmas or as crude expressions of power politics, but take an interest in sociological approaches that conceive of strategic action as historically and socially embedded. I try to understand how the embeddedness of IOs in specific normative and institutional environments shapes outcomes. This has led me to explore notions such as community, legitimacy, diffusion, and overlap, and their influence on IOs. My work is mainly comparative in nature and I employ both qualitative (case studies, process-tracing, discourse analysis) and quantitative methods (regression analyses of different sorts). 

In my current research, I analyze

  • trade-offs in the institutional design of IOs;
  • the consequences of institutional overlap for IO design;
  • the self-legitimation of regional organizations;
  • diffusion dynamics in global regionalism.

Some working papers include the following

  • “How organisational overlap shapes delegation: The Case of African Regional Economic Organizations.” With Dan Eran, Mona Saleh and Yoram Haftel. Last presented at ISA 2023.
  • “The trilemma of international organization.” With Liesbet Hooghe, Gary Marks and Yoram Haftel. Last presented at Leuphana workshop on IOs, February 2023.
  • “The democratic self-legitimation of international organizations.” With Henning Schmidtke. Last presented at ISA 2023.
  • “Institutional overlap and the legitimation of international organizations.” With Swantje Schirmer and Henning Schmidtke.

Email me if you are interested in any of the papers.

Research Projects

Legitimation Strategies of Regional Organizations (LegRO)

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.