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Turbulent fields and the theory of regional integration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2009

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Theories of regional integration are becoming obsolescent because three core assumptions on which these theories have been based are becoming less and less relevant to the behavior patterns actually displayed by governments active in regional organizations. These three assumptions are (1) that a definable institutional pattern must mark the outcome of the process of integration, (2) that conflicts of interests involving trade-offs between ties with regional partners and ties with nonmembers should be resolved in favor of regional partners, and (3) that decisions be made on the basis of disjointed incrementalism. The history of the European Communities since 1968 shows that most governments no longer behave in accordance with these assumptions, although they did earlier. The explanation for the new trend is to be found in awareness of the various novel kinds and dimensions of interdependence between countries, issues, and objectives, particularly with reference to policies involving those aspects of highly industrial societies which do not respond readily to the incentives of a customs union. A new decision-making rationality–labelled “fragmented issue linkage”–seems to be competing with incremental habits, suggesting that efforts are being made to cope with “turbulence” in the industrial environment so as to avoid piecemeal solutions. The effort to cope with turbulence, in turn, is unlikely to lead to any “final” set of regional institutions.

Copyright © The IO Foundation 1976

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1 Kaiser, Ronn D., “Toward the Copernican Phase of Regional Integration Theory,” Journal of Common Market Studies (03 1972)Google Scholar; De Vree, J. K., Political Integration: The Formation of Theory and its Problems (The Hague: Mouton, 1972)Google Scholar; Pentland, Charles, International Theory and European Integration (New York: The Free Press, 1973)Google Scholar. Pentland argues that the themes argued by pluralist, functionalist, neo-functionalist and federalist writers, respectively, are neither altogether wrong nor incapable of being combined. Their recombination, however, would result in a discrete theory of regional integration recognizing the indeterminate nature of institutional outcomes and a more sophisticated notion of socialchange, without dealing with the issue of exogenous variables and their salience in throwing doubt on whether the regional focus is worth while. The most complete treatment of measurement and the definition of variables is Lindberg, Leon N. and Scheingold, Stuart A. (eds.), Regional Integration: Theory and Research, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971)Google Scholar.

2 Puchala, Donald J., “Of Blind Men, Elephants and International Integration,” Journal of Common Market Studies (03 1972)Google Scholar; Taylor, Paul, “The Politics of the European Community: The Confedeial Phase,” World Politics (04 1975)Google Scholar. Lindberg and Puchala, on slightly different grounds, opt for a view of regional integration which takes the present as given, if not final, because of the difficulties of conceptualizing change and institutional outcomes along any dimensions simple and straightforward enough to permit prognosis. Hence, they feel that the “system” (or the “concordance system”) (i.e., the neo-functional and pluralist descriptions of the processes which make up the status quo in Western Europe) is the reality on which theory and research should focus. Puchala, op. cit. and Leon Lindberg, “Political Integration as a Multidimensional Phenomenon Requiring Multivaiiate Measurement,” in Lindberg and Scheingold (eds.). The question of institutional outcomes is examined in terms of constant or shifting actor objectives by Lindberg, Leon N. and Scheingold, Stuart A., Europe's Would-be Polity, (Englewood Cliffs; Prentice-Hall, 1970), especially Chapters 4 and 9Google Scholar. Ralf Dahrendorf questions whether the desirable expansion of scope in the activities of the European Community ought to be accompanied by the growth in centralized power demanded by the Commission. Plädoyer für die Europäische Union (Munich: Piper Verlag, 1973)Google Scholar.

3 The externalization phenomenon was first introduced into regional integration theories by scholars concerned with investigating how and why common markets in Latin America evolve differently from the European pattern. Hence, it is linked with the literature on distributional crises in such common markets and with dependencia arguments. The phenomenon is exhaustively analyzed by Schmitter, Philippe C. in Autonomy or Dependence as Regional Integration Outcomes: Central America (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, 1972)Google Scholar; On distributional crises see Fagan, Stuart I., Central American Economic Integration (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, 1970)Google Scholar; Mytelka, Lynn K., “The Salience of Gains in Third-World Integrative Systems,” World Politics, 25:2 (01 1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Morawetz, David, “Harmonization of Economic Policies in Customs Unions: The Andean Group,” Journal of Common Market Studies, 11:4 (06 1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lynn K. Mytelka, “Foreign Aid and Regional Integration: The UDEAC Case,” ibid., 12:2 (December 1973); Yash P. Ghai, “The East African Industrial Licensing System,” ibid., 12:3 (1974). For a summary of the voluminous “dependency” literature see Ayres, Robert L., “Economic Stagnation and the Emergence of the Political Ideology of Chilean Underdevelopment,” World Politics 25:1 (10 1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Development Policy and the Possibility of a ‘Livable’ Future for Latin America,” American Political Science Review 69:2 (06 1975)Google Scholar.

4 I have attempted a fuller exploration of this idea in “ls There a Hole in the Whole?” in Ruggie, John G. and Haas, Ernst B. (eds.), International Responses to Technology, special issue of International Organization (Summer 1975), especially pp. 868–71Google Scholar. The term turbulence is borrowed from the literature on social planning and management. It was first used by Emery, F. E. and Trist, E. L., “The Causal Texture of Organisational Environments,” Human Relations, Vol. 18 (1965): 2132CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Since my purpose here is the description of a novel situation facing decision makers and not the specification of solutions, I have avoided attempts at a formal statement of the properties of turbulence. For such an attempt see Metcalfe, J. L.Systems Models, Economic Models and the Causal Texture of Organizational Environments: An Approach to Macro-Organization Theory,” Human Relations, Vol. 27 (1974): 839–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 I hesitate to employ the over-used term “world order.” Its appearance as a title of lectures articles, speeches, and books has done much to further confuse the discussion of international politics. Usually it means no more than the author's or speaker's preferred values for the future. Sometimes it means a given institutional-legal set of rules, actual or demanded, as in a “world order for the ocean” or for outer space. Labels such as “spaceship earth,” “the global village,” and a “steady-state world” evoke another meaning still. Their authors imply that there is some condition or problem which so pervades life on this planet as to compel a cognitive reorganization which must then lead to a dramatic political reform of our ways. Only rarely does it mean a persistent pattern of behavior or belief, which can be projected and analyzed in terms of its consequences, and can therefore serve as a basis for stipulating an empirically validated desirable pattern of behavior for the future. This is the sense I have in mind here. An illustration would be a pervasive cognitive commitment to science as a source of knowledge of causal relations and a source of policies for coping with science-related problems. I have explored what a “scientific world order” might imply for international politics in “Is There an International Scientific Society?” in Goodwin, G. and Linklater, Andrew (eds.), New Dimensions of World Politics (London: Croom Helm, 1975)Google Scholar.

6 In Lindbeig and Scheingold (eds.), p. 69. Lindberg provided the ratings for all years other than 1975.1 added the 1975 ratings.

7 Amitai Etzioni first pointed out that the more successful regional integration efforts managed to postpone redistribution issues and were launched on a set of shared objectives which excluded potentially divisive problems. Political Unification (Huntington, N.Y.: Krieger, 1974), pp. 324–27Google Scholar.

8 For the details on these choices see Nau, Henry R., National Politics and International Technology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974)Google Scholar. Nau especially documents the build-up and decay of the European nuclear energy program and the progressive dismantling of Euratom and its research projects. Similar conclusions follow from an analysis of the vicissitudes of the European Space organizations and the various aircraft-construction consortia. For a comprehensive description of the pre-1968 economic program of the European Community see Walsh, A. E. and Paxton, John, The Structure and Development of the Common Market (London: Hutchinson, 1968)Google Scholar; for a description of the early effort at medium-term economic planning in the Community see Denton, Geoffrey, Planning in the EEC (London: Chatham House, 1967)Google Scholar.

9 This is clearly demonstrated in the neo-functional process models which show how integration and disintegration may occur, devised by Nye, Joseph S. and Schmitter, Philippe C. in Lindberg, and Scheingold, (eds.), Regional Integration, pp. 192231, 232–64Google Scholar.

10 The incremental and rational-anaytic styles are contrasted in terms of interest to us in Etzioni, Amitai, The Active Society (New York: The Free Press, 1968), pp. 270–71, 282–83Google Scholar. I have also relied on Steinbruner's, John summary of the rational-analytic style in The Cybernetic Theory of Decision, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), pp. 31 ff., 44–46Google Scholar. Since Steinbruner's “cybernetic-cognitive” model contains elements of both incremental and “fragmented issue linkage” rationality, however, I have not used his discussion in the elaboration of my distinctions. For some sweeping critiques of the rational-analytic mode and descriptions of its use in government see Lyden, F. J. and Miller, E. G. (eds.), Planning Programming Budgeting: A Systems Approach to Management (Chicago: Markham, 1967)Google Scholar.

11 This description corresponds in many respects to what Etzioni advocates as “mixed scanning,” a social action and planning strategy which seeks to take the best from both incrementalism and rational analysis. The Active Society, pp. 282–88. A word of clarification is required by the word “crisis.” As used here, a crisis is the compounding of uncertainty in the minds of actors engaged in collective decision making, uncertainty about the adequacy of cause-and-effect links carried over from past experience, about the proper ranking of values in competition, about the future toward which one should be working. Such a crisis is not a sudden event but a gradual growth of doubt. This usage contrasts sharply with the “crisis literature” in international politics, which confronts decision making under conditions of great danger and limits on time, mostly in the context of the outbreak of hostilities. Propositions on rational behavior under such conditions have very little in common with our concern here. Hence the models of rationality developed by Allison, Graham in Essence of Decision (Boston: Little Brown, 1971)Google Scholar are not germane, even though the incremental bargaining style of bureaucratic behavior is prominent there.

12 I have drawn on the evolving literature on complexity in this formulation, as well as on Herbert Simon's work on decomposability and works in the “structural” tradition. For sources used see Haas, , “Is There a Hole in the Whole?” pp. 852–56Google Scholar.

13 Quoted from an unpublished paper presented at the European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1966. My translation.

14 The typology follows the analysis and the coding rules specified by Lindberg, in Lindberg and Scheingold (eds.), pp. 101–02. Only the four intermediate types were found to be empirically applicable to the European Community. The least cooperative type has not been illustrated by the European experience despite the threatening behavior adopted by De Gaulle and Harold Wilson. Each threatened to veto the decisions endorsed by all the others for an indefinite period, unless some important concession were made to France and Britain, respectively. In other words, the threat was contingent, not absolute, and it was withdrawn in each case following protracted negotiations which involved side-payments to the threateners who, however, scaled down their demands in the process of negotiating the side-payments. This is best described as the “competitive zero-sum minimum winning coalition model” because the accomodation was brought about by means of a coalition of governments favorable to meeting some of the demands of the threatening actors. The substance of the accomodations I have in mind refer (1) to the solution of the dispute in 1965 over agricultural prices, admission of Britain, voting rules, and the finality of the customs union and (2) to the adjustment of financial contributions and the institution of a regional policy in 1975. The most cooperative type is described by Lindberg as “the emergence of common interests which may transcend individual actor interests,” a “progressive taxation model” in which the richer forego benefits to reward the poorer in an effort to attain some transcendent goal. This, in my judgment, has not occurred in the European Community (with the possible exception of the regional policy and the subsidization of export earnings of overseas associated states). At best, it is beginning to occur now. This type of bargaining, therefore, foregoes the quid-pro-quo rationality implicit in log rolling and package dealing, and the expectation of future “good behavior” related to offering side-payments.

15 The distinction is captured in Article 189 of the Treaty of Rome which offers the definitions of “regulations,” “directives,” “decisions,” and “recommendations.” “Guidelines” issued by the Community are a type of directive, binding as to the substantive goals to be achieved but leaving the member states the freedom to choose the means and form appropriate for implementation, and compelling the national parliaments to legislate or change legislation in order to approximate the harmonized community-wide body of rules which the guideline is supposed to bring about. See Everting, Ulrich, “Die Rechtsangleichung in der Europaischen Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft auf dem Gebiete des Niederlassungsrechts” in Ballerstedt, and Steindorff, (eds.), Abhandlungen aus dem gesamten Bügerlichen Recht, Handelsrecht und Winschaftsrecht (Heft 29) (Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 1965), pp. 7576Google Scholar. There seems to be continuing controversy among lawyers as to the exact meaning and significance of this technique, mentioned in Article 57 of the Treaty as a means of legal harmonization, but not in Article 189.

16 This summary of events is based on Agence Europe, the Bulletin of the European Communities and internal documentary sources, as well as interviews. These are cited in full in the context of a comprehensive description of decision-making patterns since 1968 in Haas, , The Obsolescence of Regional Integration Theory (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, 1975), Part IIIGoogle Scholar.

17 Following the adoption by the Council of Ministers on January 14, 1974, of the Dahrendorf Plan for the coordination of R & D, a new institution was set up which took the place of earlier coordinating bodies. This institution–Committee for European Research on Science and Technology (CREST)–is a standing committee of the Council composed of representatives of the Commission and of the national civil servants charged with making national R & D policy. It took the place of an earlier committee made up of lower-ranking civil servants who were unable to commit their governments, unlike the new committee. CREST has the mandate of deciding on the Community-financed R & D program and to coordinate this with the separate national programs, which are to be evaluated collectively and adjusted as needed. CREST has operated since the Spring of 1974.

18 Wallace, William, “The Administrative Implications of Economic and Monetary Union Within the European Community,” Journal of Common Market Studies, 12:4 (1974): 410Google Scholar.

19 Ibid., pp. 424 ff. The Economic Policy Committee was established by the Council on 18 February 1974, replacing the Short-Term and Medium-Term Economic Policy Committees, but still apparently competing with a “High Level Steering Committee on Short-Term Economic Policy.” The first of these committees is chaired by the Commission, while the second is a Council committee. The same institutional trend is also observable in the Central American Common Market. See the institutional suggestions contained in UN doc. E/CEPAL/CCE/367/Rev. 3, “Sugerencias para reactivar a corto plazo la Integración Económica Centroamericana,” June 1975.

20 Address by François-Xavier Ortoli to the European Parliament, 18 February 1975. Eighth General Report on the Activities of the European Communities (Brussels, 1975), pp. ixxxviiGoogle Scholar.

21 Ibid., p. xxi.

22 This case is made by Commissioner Dahiendorf, Ralf in “External Relations of the European Community,” in Corbet, Hugh and Jackson, Robert (eds.), In Search of a New World Economic Order (London: Croon Helm, 1974), pp. 6069Google Scholar. The breakdown of the old Article 113 negotiating process is illustrated by the complex commercial agreements concluded with East European countries, Brazil, and some Middle Eastern states. Some of these agreements are purely bilateral, but others contain a collective component with respect to the consultative machinery created.

23 Eighth Report, pp. xvii–xviii. There is no expression of rational-analytic stance or even a “pure” version of fragmented issue linkage in this material. For an example of such approaches see the “Cocoyoc Declaration” of an UNCTAD-UNEP expert panel in Ruggie and Haas, International Responses to Technology. This Declaration can be taken as a self-conscious questioning of earlier incremental styles of United Nations action in the development and environmental issue areas. The rationality introduced by the panel is a deliberate search for a better strategy of action and implies a “new vision” in an ideological-programmatic sense. Fragmented issue linkage, as we seek to identify it in recent European regional politics, lacks this characteristic. It is not yet a self-conscious strategy, a program deliberately designed to achieve something different from past objectives. It is rather a cognitively inchoate effort to cope with the unexpected on the part of elites who have not yet fundamentally reassessed their earlier objectives but who have lost faith in the established regional modes of decision and action.

24 To achieve these goals Ortoli proposed the creation of a medium-term research institute, a European export bank, loans and grants to enterprises experimenting with new energy technologies, harmonization of European company laws, and unspecified techniques for facilitating public participation in decision making. He said nothing about the traditional techniques of counter-cyclical economic policy (monetary and fiscal) at the Community level, except for the intention to increase disbursements from the European Social Fund.

25 These categories were devised by Ruggie, John G. in “International Responses to Technology: Concepts and Trends,” International Organization (Summer 1975)Google Scholar. They were adapted by me to the European Community setting.

26 For arguments that the current institutional situation cannot last and that summit conferences are harmful innovations with respect to continuing political integration see Henig, Stanely, “The Institutional Structure of the European Communities,” Journal of Common Market Studies, 12:4 (1974)Google Scholar; Hallstein, Walter, Europe in the Making (New York: W. W. Norton, 1972)Google Scholar, and the Commission's most recent institutional proposals, “Toward European Union,” Bulletin of the European Communities.

27 The analyses of Puchala, Taylor, Lindberg, and Scheingold and Wallace, (see footnotes 2, 18) all suggest that the current institutional situation of the European Community is appropriate to its position in the overall European political setting and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. For an argument that summit conferences represent a functional systemic adaptation in a non-federal setting see Lodge, Juliet, “The Role of EEC Summit Conferences,” Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Philip Allott, ibid., Vol. 13, No. 3 (March 1975), argues that the British political process is not fundamentally different from the regional process. See especially Puchala, Donald, “Domestic Politics and Regional Harmonization in the European Communities,” World Politics, 27:4 (07 1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

28 Percentage of those rating as “very important” the following issue-areas suggested for Community action (May 1975 poll of European Communities):

Source: Commission of the European Communities, Euro-Barometre (No. 3, June–July 1975)

29 Even the more “confederal” of the institutional analyses and reform proposals we have examined wish to retain the quasi-federal aspects of the present system. In fact, they wish to perfect them and confine to the intergovernmental dimension only the activities which seem not to call for further centralization. Suggestions designed to improve participation also lean in the federal direction.

30 The recent Franco–German understanding on coordinated counter-cyclical and counterinflation measures illustrates this ambivalence. Objectives and tactics were jointly defined and sequencing of action determined. But the package was to be coordinated withchanges in United States domestic and foreign economic policies and with negotiations to be held with the underdeveloped countries.

31 This construct is called a “semi-lattice” in organization theory. For a fuller explanation of its appropriateness in terms of notions of interdependence, see my “Is There a Hole in the Whole?” International Organization (Summer 1975): 856–59.

32 My analysis in many ways is similar to and complements that of Keohane, Robert O. and Nye, Joseph S., “Interdependence and Integration,” in Greenstein, Fred and Polsby, Nelson (eds.), Handbook of Political Science Volume 8, (Andover, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1975)Google Scholar. Keohane and Nye present a most thoughtful and rigorous synthesis of the two strands of theory subsumed under the labels “interdependence” and “integration.” Nevertheless, their purpose differs from mine. “The usefulness of integration theory,” they say, “does not arise from the spread of regional integration processes, nor from the view that there is a discernible analogous process of global political integration.” They go on to say “rather the usefulness of integration theory, shorn of its teleological and regional orientation, lies in the set of insights into the politics of complex sets of interdependent entities.” My argument is that the teleological/regional emphasis is necessary and desirable for understanding a new set of phenomena, but that this emphasis becomes obsolete when events prove the assumptions underlying integration theory to have become less relevant. Obsolescence, in turn, is caused by what we succeed in mapping when we apply the concepts associated with “interdependence.” Keohane and Nye are right in arguing that the study of integration can and should be subsumed under the study of interdependence; but the processes associated with interdependence can and do go on without necessary reference to what we look for when we study integration. For more restricted purposes, then, integration theory retains its relevance.

33 Attention should be called to the fact that the nation of “issue linkage” as a feature of global policy interdependence, as used by Keohane and Nye, is not synonymous with the rationality of fragmented issue linkage. Keohane and Nye also make the distinction between functional and deliberate issue linkage, but do not associate the same consequences to these as I do.

34 The notions of autarky, interconnectedness, dependence, interdependence, integration, and convergence are defined and analyzed as global patterns by Inkeles, Alex, “The Emerging Social Structure of the World,” World Politics (07 1975)Google Scholar. Inkeles shows that interconnectedness does not necessarily predict interdependence, that interdependence and integration need not covary, and that convergence may come about without increases in either interdependence or integration. His argument strongly suggests that there are in the contemporary world powerful trends making for the convergence of patterns and institutions of social organization–i.e., nations are becoming more alike–without necessarily implying a direct link to the emergence of new global political organizations.

35 Krause, Lawrence B. and Nye, Joseph S., “Reflections on the Economics and Politics of International Economic Organizations,” International Organization, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Winter 1975): 331Google Scholar.