Comparing (Supra-national) Regional Governance: Methodological Aspects


Philippe De Lombaerde, United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies in Bruges

Although early neo-functionalists already engaged in comparative studies of regionalisms in different world regions back in the 1960s, it is only more recently that comparative regionalism studies saw their interest grow and their number of practitioners multiply significantly. More and more scholars with a track record in area (often, European) studies are moving in the direction of comparative regionalism studies. In addition, the growing availability of quantitative data and econometric work has also stimulated comparative analysis. However, the quality of such analyses is unequal. This paper therefore addresses a number of methodological issues that researchers engaging in comparative research projects are faced with and aims at providing some guidelines for comparative empirical analysis in this field. The issues addressed in this paper include: the issue of comparability, case selection, qualitative versus quantitative approaches, the design of indicators, the role of comparison in monitoring systems, etc. When looking at a (non-random) selection of empirical studies, it becomes clear that comparative research on regionalism is characterized by different definitions for the key concepts, different theoretical frameworks, different research questions, different comparators, different empirical methods, and different results. The problématique of comparative regionalism refers therefore to conceptual issues, to theoretical issues, as well as to empirical methods.

About the speaker
Philippe De Lombaerde is Associate Director at the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies in Bruges (Belgium). He is also a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Bonn-ZEI and the College of Europe. He worked as an Associate Professor of International Economics at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, as a Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Antwerp and as a Researcher at the National Institute of Development Administration (Bangkok). He has been involved in policy research and consultancy projects for the governments of Belgium, Flanders, France, Colombia and Thailand, the UN, ILO, OECD, European Commission and EUROSTAT. He has published several articles in academic journals (including: Journal of Common Market Studies; Journal of Policy Modeling; International Economics; The Journal of World Investment and Trade; Global Economic Review; Journal of European Integration; Review of International Studies; The South African Journal of Economics; Cuadernos de Economía; Integration & Trade). He has also edited several books. Mr. De Lombaerde (PhD) is an economist whose current research interests include: regional economic integration, international trade and migration, monitoring tools and indicators, comparative regionalism, Latin American regionalism, EU, ASEAN, and cross-border micro-regions.

Venue: UNU-MERIT Conference Room

Date: 21 April 2011

Time: 13:00 - 14:00


UNU-MERIT