Going Beyond Paradiplomacy? Adding Historical Institutionalism to Account for Regional Foreign Policy Competences

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
Peter Bursens Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp Sint Jacobstraat 2, B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium, Email:

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Jana Deforche
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This article argues that the literature on paradiplomacy has been very successful in conceptualizing the external activities of regions and in making descriptive inventories of paradiplomatic activities and instruments. However, we also claim that it has not yet delivered satisfactory explanations for the development of regional foreign activities. The article offers a theoretical contribution to the paradiplomacy literature, suggesting that complementing paradiplomacy concepts with institutionalist theory can account for variation in the development of foreign policy powers of sub-national entities. The argument is empirically elaborated by a historical institutionalist narrative of the development of regional foreign policy powers of the Belgian sub-national entities. The article argues that the combination of the paradiplomacy agenda with historical institutional theory delivers explanatory insights into the evolution of regional foreign relations competences.

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