Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Regional powers and their strategies: empire, hegemony, and leadership


Regional powers are often conceived of as ‘regional leading powers’, states which adopt a cooperative and benevolent attitude in their international relations with their neighbours. The article argues that regional powers can follow a much wider range of foreign policy strategies in their region. Three ideal-typical regional strategies are identified: empire, hegemony, and leadership. The article is devoted to a theory-led distinction and clarification of these three terms, which are often used interchangeably in the field of International Relations. According to the goals pursued, to the means employed, and to other discriminating features such as the degree of legitimation and the type of self-representation by the dominant state, the article outlines the essential traits of imperial, hegemonic, and leading strategies and identifies sub-types for better classifying hegemony and leadership.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver , Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Douglas Lemke , Regions of War and Peace (Cambridge/New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Fredrik Söderbaum and Timothy M. Shaw , Theories of New Regionalism (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2003)

Derrick Frazier and Robert Stewart-Ingersoll , ‘Regional Powers and Security: A Framework for Understanding Order within Regional Security Complexes’, European Journal of International Relations, OnlineFirst (21 April2010)

Kenneth N. Waltz put it in his Theory of International Politics (New York, NY: Random House, 1979), p. 198

Margit Bussmann and John R. Oneal , ‘Do Hegemons Distribute Private Goods? A Test of Power-Transition Theory’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 51 (2007), p. 89

Jonathan Joseph , Hegemony: A Realist Analysis (London/New York, NY: Routledge, 2002), p. 129

George R. Goethals , Georgia J. Sorenson and MacGregor James Burns (eds), Encyclopedia of Leadership (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2004)

Jarrod Wiener , ‘Hegemonic Leadership: Naked Emperor or the Worship of False Gods?’ European Journal of International Relations, 1 (1995) pp. 219243

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 25
Total number of PDF views: 338 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 782 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.