Globalising the Study of Diffusion: Multiple Sources and the East African Community

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A growing literature on diffusion shows that ideas, policies and institutions originating in the European Union shape decision-making in other regional organisations (ROs). However, a research programme which claims to examine processes of interdependent decision-making between ROs in general cannot treat a single RO as the ‘default’ source of this diffusion. This paper thus (1) discusses what we term the ‘multiple sources’ problem in diffusion research and (2) presents a model of institutional diffusion, which highlights the important role of local actors in the multiple sources scenario. Based on original data collected via extensive fieldwork in East Africa, we present a case study on the interdependent sources behind the East African Community (EAC)’s establishment in drawing on this model. We find that EAC policymakers selected between, combined and modified several external institutions. These findings highlight loc
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Number of pages29
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 04.08.2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the three reviewers for their excellent comments and recommendations. We also thank the participants of the annual conference of the working group Research on Europe and Regionalism of the German Political Science Association, as well as the participants of the conference ‘East African Regionalism in Uncertain Times’ at the British Institute in Eastern Africa for their valuable feedback. Mariel Reiss would like to thank the United Nations University – Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies for hosting her as a visiting researcher while she worked on this article. Tobias Lenz gratefully acknowledges funding from the Leibniz Association (grant number J31/2017).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • East African Community, Regionalism, diffusion, global international relations, institutional design