Regionalism and Economic Crisis: The Cases of ASEAN and Mercosur, 2008-2010
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The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 disrupted a decade of strong growth across emerging market economies. Regional institutions composed of such states exhibited variable behaviour in response to the crisis. The ten members of ASEAN cooperated on several important projects, while the four members of Mercosur failed to cooperate, and descended into bitter diplomatic conflict. Using this divergence as a point of departure, this thesis examines why regional institutions and their members behave differently during economic crises. In a qualitative study founded on comparisons and process tracing, three independent variables — each derived from a competing explanation of regional cooperation — are tested in order to gain greater leverage over the research question. Institutional flexibility shows how regional institutions mitigate the costs cooperation imposes on their members. Asymmetric interdependence shows how cooperation is affected by the distribution of economic capacity. Regional coherence tests the influence of socially constructed identities on international cooperation.