Towards an organization theory of international integration

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Series Details No. 13, October 2006
Publication Date 18/10/2006
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This paper outlines an organization theory of political integration among nation-states. If we assume there are existing shared institutions, political integration is here seen to take place to the extent that lines of conflict coinciding with national borders are complemented with cleavages cutting across such borders so that a multi-dimensional political space can be observed. I ask what difference organizational characteristics of international or supranational organizations (IOs) make in this respect, other things being equal. The scarce attention devoted to IOs over the last decades has to a certain extent focused on how their organizational resources might have been conducive to increased problem-solving capacity at the international level. A key argument advanced in this paper, however, is that only when international institutions are structured basically according to non-territorial criteria will they start to seriously challenge the intergovernmental logic of political behaviour. In addition, it is argued that only fragmented states and loosely coupled political systems can become profoundly integrated into a larger polity according to the criteria stated above. In order to illustrate the assumptions I look at some key reforms and changes of IOs over the last 200 years.

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