Diffusion stands at the center of the research group’s interest of the normative impact of Europe on other world regions. Diffusion is a process through which successful innovations in structure or activities are being copied throughout a population. The argument is that given changing norms and uncertainty about the question of which policies are most effective, policy makers copy the policies that they see experts promoting and leading countries to embrace. Empirical research has focused on the diffusion of environmental standards and regulations, the adoption of economic liberalization policies, technological innovations, human rights norms, the spread of courts, or specific models of democratic accountability, such as electoral monitoring or truth commissions. The focus in the Research College on “The Transformative Power of Europe” is on the spread of the European Model of integration, or parts of it, over regions.
Our workshop aims to bring together researchers focusing on the empirical investigation and theoretical penetration of processes of transnational diffusion. Through which causal mechanisms does the EU spread? Is it through serving as an example of regional integration, or active promotion? Does the EU have normative power or does it also exert hard coercive power? Can we neatly separate these mechanisms in empirical research? Most research on diffusion has hitherto analyzed diffusion using quantitative cross-sectional or cross-country studies. Our workshop intends to extend existing research on diffusion by reflecting most importantly – but not exclusively – on methodological questions related to one key issue: The observation and measurement of diffusion in small-N comparative studies.
In methodological terms, the organizers wish to stimulate conceptual work that explores the contribution of various methodologies to EU-related diffusion processes. We are interested in reflecting on theories and mechanisms of diffusion with an emphasis on the challenges provided by two factors: First, the diffusion of the European Union as a regional model of integration. This challenge to conventional diffusion perspectives arises because the EU is a multidimensional and compound model bringing together various issue areas and models (supranationalism in economics, intergovernmentalism in foreign policy and judicial cooperation). Moreover, it is a moving target which has developed from a narrow economic community to an economic, political and security community. The EU exports individual institutions, such as its court, as well as individual policies, such as environmental policies, competition policies, tariff harmonization etc. Thus, the diffusion of the EU as model of regional integration raises the question how to conceptualize the independent variable.
Second, and perhaps even more important, research on the mechanisms of diffusion faces a methodological divide: The majority of diffusion studies analyzes diffusion in large-N studies. In these studies, whether or not a unit has mimicked or learned from another individual’s behavior is usually determined empirically: Investigators usually analyze adoption rates and infer from the distribution the respective causal mechanisms. Here, our focus on small-N (comparative) studies provides an excellent opportunity to bring in the strengths of case studies, provided that we find a solution to conceptualize mechanisms in a way that is suited for small-N single or comparative studies. We explicitly invite researchers to join our discussion and to theoretically speculate about the different ways of conceptualizing the diffusion of the EU as model of regional integration, its mechanisms and its impact.
The workshop arranges a 1.5-day dialogue between advanced researchers on the one hand, and up to 13 post-graduates and post-docs on the other dealing with diffusion and research design questions. We have invited senior researchers who are experts in their fields to comment on papers or share their ideas with us. The workshop provides for intense discussion on single papers with focused round table discussions on specific issues.
The workshop will take place 08 Wednesday 2010 through Thursday, 09 December 2010, ahead of the Conference of the Kollegforschergruppe.