POLS90043 Comparative Regional Governance


This subject examines regionalism in a comparative perspective, focusing in particular on Europe, the Asia Pacific, South America and Africa. It examines regional governance in terms of institutions, practices, values, norms and governance outputs. The role of leadership is scrutinised. The value of comparative approaches is critically examined.


The subject explores theories of regionalism and comparative regionalism studies. It critically assesses the European Union's experience of regional integration and the ideas that it constitutes a template or reference point for other regions and for regionalism studies. The role of sovereignty, consensus, identity and security are examined. The differing emphases accorded to institutions, supranationalism, intergovernmentalism and governance are examined comparatively.

The debates regarding what and who constitute drivers are presented in a thematic and comprehensive manner. The subject examines historical contexts; crisis; external threats; institutions; multilateralism; common problems; ideas and narratives as drivers, or on occasion, as inhibitors of regionalism and integration in the European Union (EU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Union (AU) and Mercosur (the Common Market of the South.

This subject examines alternative views on what drives regionalism, such as multilateral forums. It scrutinises exogenous factors, including crisis and threat perception. Leadership and core states are also critically examined. Material, ideational and normative factors are all examined and assessed comparatively.

Learning Objectives

Students who successfully complete this subject will:
  • Understand the origins, drivers and impediments in regionalism and integration in Europe; Asia; Africa and South America;
  • Comprehend the role of crisis and endogenous and exogenous factors in regional governance architectures;
  • Gain knowledge of major debates in the comparative regionalism literature concerning regional governance;
  • Acquire in-depth understanding of important historical and contemporary issues concerning the role of leadership in regional governance;
  • Deepen analytical skills relevant to careers in international affairs, including in government, business, media, and non-governmental organisations.

Seminar Themes

  • Why study regions?
  • Theories of regionalism and comparative regionalism studies
  • The European Union's experience of regional integration in comparative perspective
  • The ASEAN experience of regional integration in comparative perspective
  • The MERCOSUR experience of regional integration in comparative perspective
  • African Union experience of regional integration in comparative perspective
  • Drivers and Impediments to regionalism
  • Borders, Migration and the Refugee Crisis
  • Peace, security and conflict
  • Interregionalism: How do regional bodies work together?
  • Comparing regional governance


2016 - 2018
The Comparative Regional Governance subject was taught at the University of Melbourne in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Margherita Matera