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Overlapping Regionalism in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe Compared

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Diana PankeDr. Sören Stapel

Student Assistants: Nikolai Aleksiev, Fenna Kreuz, Klara Leithäuser, Olesia Andersen, Lukas Weißenberger

dfg projekt regionalismus


In the aftermaths of WWII and the Cold War, states have intensified multilateral collaboration and increasingly cooperated with states in their neighborhood. Today there are more than 70 ROs in all parts of world. When ROs share member states and policy competences, we speak of overlapping regionalism. While a comparative regionalism research agenda has been emerging recently, overlapping regionalism has not yet received much scholarly attention. The phenomenon of overlapping regionalism is widespread and important, not in the least since ROs’ policies and rules can be incompatible reducing their effectiveness. This project contributes towards filling gaps in our knowledge of overlapping regionalism in respect to three research questions: How has overlapping regionalism evolved over time and space? Why and when does overlapping regionalism occur and increase? How do states react to overlapping regionalism and does this affect the effectiveness of ROs? We answer these questions by compiling a novel and unique database (1945-2015), developing a set of hypotheses on the basis of a comprehensive theoretical framework, and analyzing drivers and consequences of overlapping regionalism with advanced methods.


The project has three major objectives along the main research questions. First, we will examine how the overlapping regionalism over time, across regions and policy fields has developed, in order to extract the patterns, similarities and differences. Second, the project assesses the factors that led to the emergence and increase of overlapping regionalism. Third, the project examined the reactions to overlapping regionalism and takes into account how national and regional actors deal with the phenomenon and how these reactions impact the effectiveness of ROs.

Hence, the project has the following objectives:

  • To create new empirical evidence about the development and form of overlapping regionalism as well as reactions to the phenomenon

  • To find explanations for the variation in the degree of overlapping regionalism over time, across regions and policy fields as well as explanations for the reactions of national and regional actors to the phenomenon

  • To work on alternative approaches to the effectiveness of regional governance that do not treat ROs as isolated but take into consideration how states and ROs react to context factors especially to overlapping regionalism


(research design of the project)


Conference presentations:

§  “Between Complementarity and Conflict: Overlapping Regionalism under Scrutiny”, DVPW Standing Group on European Studies and Comparative Regionalism, University of Gießen, 12-13 November 2020.

§  “Between Complementarity and Conflict: Overlaps in regional security governance”, IB Sektionstagung 2020, Universität Freiburg, 7-9 October 2020

§  “The Architects of Complexity. Why European States Duplicate Policy Competencies in Regional Organizations”, ISA Annual Convention, Honolulu, 25-28 March 2020.

§  “Drivers of Overlapping Regionalism: How the Power over Rules and the Rule of Power Shape Regional Organizations”, ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, 4-7 April 2018.



§  Diana Panke, Sören Stapel, Anna Starkmann (2020): Comparing Regional Organizations. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

bup monographie

Journal articles (peer reviewed)

§  Henneberg, Ingo, Stapel, Sören (2020): “Cooperation and Conflict at the Horn of Africa: A New Regional Bloc between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia and its Consequences for Eastern Africa”. In: Africa Spectrum. Vol. 55, Nr. 2.

§  Diana Panke, Sören Stapel (2018): „Exploring Overlapping Regionalism”. In: Journal of International Relations & Development. Vol. 21, No. 3, 635662.

§  Diana Panke, Sören Stapel (2018): „Overlapping Regionalism in Europe – Patterns and Effects“. In: British Journal of Politics and International Relations. Vol. 20, No. 1, 239-258. 

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