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Case Studies — Stephen Buzdugan

Regionalism from without – external influences on the process of regional integration in sub-Saharan Africa


This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) through a Management and Business Development Fellowship. The aim of the research was to shed light on the role of external actors in the process of regional integration among ‘developing’ countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Since the early post-War period, regional integration has been understood as a ‘bottom-up’ phenomenon in the field of international relations (IR), international political economy (IPE) and international business (IB), whereby (typically) geographically proximate states engage in the formation and evolution of a regional institution and organisation of which they are members.

This research challenged this model, which was based on early studies of European integration, and showed that external actors (particularly international donors) have been embedded within processes of regionalism in the case of ‘developing’ country regions in SSA, through post-colonial economic and political relations.

The research focused on the case of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), whereby external actors such as the European Union have been intrinsic to the process of regional integration from its inception to recent initiatives to introduce a greater degree of economic liberalisation in the region.

Key themes addressed by the research


  • How can regionalism among ‘developing’ countries in sub-Saharan Africa be understood with respect to historical economic and political relations with external ‘industrialised’ countries and regions such as the European Union?
  • What role have these external countries and regions played in the formation and evolution of regional integration in sub-Saharan Africa?
  • How can the intrinsic nature of external actors such as the European Union in regionalism in be conceptualised theoretically?
  • What influence have external actors had on the policies and priorities of regions such as the SADC? How has this influence been exerted and what have been the outcomes?
  • What implications does an understanding of a model of ‘regionalism from without’ have for the study of regional integration in the fields of international relations, international political economy and international business?

Major findings from the study


  • External actors, particularly large international donors such as the European Union, have been embedded within the process of regional integration in southern Africa, through historical, post-colonial economic and political relations.
  • Policies and priorities of regional organisations such as the SADC in sub- Saharan Africa have a strong external influence and thus may not reflect the underlying priorities of member states in the organisation.
  • In this light, the policy agenda and actions of the SADC towards greater integration with the world economy, through liberalisation, reflects not only the structural influence of global institutions such as the World Trade Organisation and ideas of neo-liberalism, but also the direct agential influence of external actors such as the European Union.
  • Regional integration in the sub-Saharan African context requires theoretical re-evaluation to reflect and account for the strong external influences of external donors in regionalist processes, policies and initiatives. This has significant implications for the manner in which economic integration is promoted through international development policy and investment by multinational enterprises.

News and Events

Heinz Tuselmann's research on labour relations and MNC performance included in Academy of Social Science document launched by Vince Cable.

The Academy of Social Science (ASS) has produced a document with a few selected cases on how research in managment in business is contributing to economic and social development in the UK. The document is entitled: "Making the case for social sciences - management".
The research of Heinz Tuselmann on labour relations and firm perfomance in foreign MNCs in the UK has been selected for this. This work has also previously been used as written evidence by the Parliament Select Committee on the Future of UK Manufacturing. The ASS document has been launched by the Rt Hon Vince Cable PM, Secretary of State for Business and Skills.

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CIBI Affiliations

CIBI staff are members of the Academy of International Business and serve on the Executive Committee of the Academy of International Business UK & Ireland Chapter.

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CIBI staff are member of the Arab Thought Forum, Amman, Jordan. The Arab Thought Forum (ATF) is an independent, intellectual, pan-Arab nongovernmental organization, which was established in 1981 in the wake of the 11th Arab Summit Conference, at the initiative of HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, along with twenty-five leading figures in academia and the field of development in the Arab world. It seeks to investigate and diagnose Arab World's current state of affairs, prepare forecasts and formulate practical solutions and viable options on issues such as unity, development, national security, liberalization and progress. The Forum chose Amman as its General-Secretariat headquarters.

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CIBI is member of DIME – Dynamics of Institutions and Markets in Europe –, a European Network of Excellence sponsored by the 6th Framework Programme of the European Union. For more information visit:

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CIIBI is member of RESER, a European research network on services innovation. RESER contains 20 research groups active in services research and policy formulation located in 13 European countries.

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