Date of Award

Summer 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Robert Pauly

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Dr. Edward Sayre

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Dr. Robert Press

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 4

Dr. Claire M. Metelits


Regional integration in Africa is at a nascent stage, despite long-standing interest in continental unification since the Pan-African independence movements. The current surge in continental-wide economic integration builds on previous efforts, yet is markedly different in terms of the ideas, interests, and institutions today. A primary reason for the failure of the first East Africa attempt to integrate was the lack of a strong private sector. Research on African regionalism has focused mostly on limited success, lack of economic growth, and persistent wide-spread poverty. Recent developments present an opportunity to objectively study the gradual evolution in African perspectives and state capacities.

This dissertation employs a neo-institutional theoretical construct within a temporal frame to examine factors motivating states to attempt the complicated and potentially risky process of economic competition. Using a fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) followed by process-tracing case studies, this research analyzes variables impacting elite bargaining and decision-making. Results demonstrate that conjunctions of certain conditions are at work in creating cooperative institutions, specifically economic pressures, regional insecurity, plus state capacity. These conditions have influenced the evolution of states’ perceptions regarding the potential for integration to maximize states’ welfare as well as national ability to navigate the process.

The temporal dimension reveals a change in the relationship between government and business elites is a significant departure from the failed East African attempt in the 1960s. Gradual convergence in national preferences, combined with exogenous support for integration are subtle but measurable. The argument made here is not that regional integration will be successful or that conditions will not change in the future. Rather, this study focuses on the gradual evolution in underlying dynamics influencing changing relations, namely the strengthening interaction between government policymakers and economic powerbrokers. Today, business pressure groups have a vested interest in regional trade and, consequently, an influential role in international politics as theorized by neo-institutionalism. Empirical evidence demonstrates interest in interdependence can drive support for creation of mechanisms conducive to economic integration. Mutually reinforcing forces resulted in observable state direction of resources to enhance economic competitiveness, human capital, and regional security via cooperative regional programs and institutions.