New Institutionalism, The Single Market and EU Governance

Going against the grain of evermore fragmented theories of EU development, this paper makes the case for new institutionalism as an overarching theory, drawing on empirical studies of EU governance of the single market.

ARENA Working Paper 25/1997 (html)

Simon J. Bulmer

Analysis of the governance of the European Union has become a growth area in recent times. This focus has marked a shift away from the grander-scale theorising of earlier eras. With the exception of Wolfgang Wessels' fusion thesis there has been a move away from examining the telos of integration to looking at more closely defined research problems, the substance of policy-making rather than the dynamics of integration as a whole. However, the move towards more narrowly defined research problems runs the risk that the field of study becomes very fragmented. We may end up with a bewildering set of policy cases explained by a further array of analytical frameworks so that the “big picture” of integration is lost from view. This could also be one implication of analysis that suggests, for example, that we have different types of theories for different kinds of research problems. Taken to an extreme, this situation could atomise empirical research on the EU, while failing to identify a common methodological strand for analysis of the different levels of research problem. This paper seeks to suggest a way in which the different levels of research analysis can be linked up through application of a middle-range theory, namely new institutionalism. The paper draws on the methods used in, and findings of, a study of the governance of the Single European Market (1985-96).

Tags: neo-institutionalism, integration theory, economic integration, Single Market
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM